Senate probes $18.5 bn Abuja Centenary City free trade zone

The Senate has raised a seven-member ad-hoc committee to investigate the status of the $ 18.5 billion Abuja Centenary Economic City project begun 10 years ago.

This follows a motion sponsored by Yisa, Ashiru Oyelola, the Senator representing Kwara South during plenary on Tuesday.

the Abuja Centenary Economic City project commenced in 2014 through a public-private partnership to develop a modern city in the mould of Dubai to commemorate 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation celebration.

The original vision for the Abuja Centenary Economic City project was for it to serve as a potential economic hub, with plans to create over 150,000 construction jobs and 250,000 permanent well-paying. jobs, residential accommodation for over 200,000 residents, and facilities to attract over 500,000 daily visitors among others.

The Abuja Centenary City was designated as a free trade zone under the regulatory oversight of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority without prejudice to other statutory agencies like the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Abuja Investment Company and Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre.

Oyelola, in his lead debate on the motion, noted that investment for the Abuja Centenary Economic City project was $ 18.5 billion as st 2014, equivalent to the size of Nigeria’s national budget at today’s exchange billion United States Dollars as of 2014.

He noted that investment for the Abuja Centenary Economic City project was 18.5 billion dollars as st 2014, equivalent to the size of Nigeria’s national budget at today’s exchange.

The lawmaker decried that the project has stalled for almost ten years since its commencement, with developmental estimates of less than 7% of road construction and other critical infrastructure compared to the significant progress made on the similarly ambitious $ 6 billion Eko Atlantic City development project in Lagos.

“This falls drastically short of expectations and the original vision of the project’s conception,” he said.

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The lawmaker further disclosed that there is ambiguity in regulatory and implementation issues between the concerned stakeholders leading to neglect of the Abuja Centenary Economic City designs blueprint.

He emphasized that reviving and completing the Abuja Centenary City project will have immense benefits for Nigeria including job creation, elevating Nigeria’s profile as an attractive destination for foreign investment, tourism and events, and overall national development,

The red chamber therefore tasked the committee to in addition to investigating progress, review the original public-private partnership agreement and recommend amendments, if necessary, to facilitate smooth and expeditious completion of the project within a defined timeframe.

The Senate also urged the federal government to prioritise the revival of the Centenary City project by providing appropriate support, resolving regulatory issues and addressing any other impediments, given its beneficial potential to the economy and people of Nigeria after 10 years of stalled progress.

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