President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday gave his nod to the Centenary City project after he was briefed by the project’s management team that all the original inhabitants of the project site had already been fully compensated.
Buhari who spoke after he was briefed by the Chairman of the company’s board of directors, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and members of its management team said asked them to be giving regular updates on the Centenary City’s development.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, the President praised the Centenary City’s main development partners from the United Arab Emirates for showing enough confidence in Nigeria by entrusting such investment of about $18.5 billion in the project.
Shehu said Buhari also welcomed the assertion by Gen. Abubakar and his team that the project will create about 250,000 more direct jobs in the Federal Capital Territory and about half a million indirect jobs.
President, he added, noted that skills, expertise and vast experience that will be brought the into country to build the Centenary City on the Dubai model will also be of immense benefit to Nigeria’s overall development.
The presidential spokesman also quoted Vice President Yemi Osibanjo who was also present at the briefing as saying the issue of the rights of the original inhabitants of the site acquired for the Centenary City had been of concern to the present Administration.
“We are glad that it is being handled”, Osinbajo said, even as welcomed the assurance that compensation had been paid to those who will be displaced by the project and that the issue of their relocation was being addressed.
Earlier, former head of state, Abubakar and the management of the Centenary City also told President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo that the project will be totally private sector driven.
The Permanent Secretary of the FCT Administration, Mr. John Chukwu who spoke to journalists after the meeting with the president advised Nigerians to always rely on what was in the public domain instead of listening to unfounded speculations.
“I think if you have issues with the Centenary City, the best approach is to talk to those who knows to give you the information, not speculations”, Chukwu stated.
He was apparently reacting to allegation by National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for South-South, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh that the immediate SGF, Chief Pius Anyim connived with the sponsors of the project to engage in fraudulent deals.
In a petition to the President, Ojougboh called for a probe of the role played by Anyim in the multi-billion Dollar project spanning over 1,500 hectares of land in the Federal Capital territory, Abuja
The Managing Director of Centenary City PLC, Dr. Odenigwe Micheal who also spoke to journalists said they were at the villa to pay courtesy call on the President following the company’s 10th Board meeting on Thursday.
He said, while Centenary City PLC is owned by 40 Nigerians and international investors, its partner, Eagles Hill is sponsored by the sovereign wealth fund which has over $12 m on the management under agreement with the FCDA and other extant agreements.
“We have paid all the interested holders the compensation for the Centenary City site. We are going ahead with their relocation, also being supervised by the FCDA”, he added