As preparation for construction work to commence at the Centenary City in Abuja, controversies over compensation may once again hamper the success of the project which is aimed at putting Abuja on the world tourism map.
The project is expected to generate about 250,000 new jobs when it finally takes off.
Original inhabitants of the area designated said they must be paid compensation for their farm land, but the project handlers are insisting that compensation has been paid on the land and therefore the call for further compensation should not arise.
The Emir of Jawa, Alhaji Idris Musa even though in accordance with the laws of the country, All land belong to government, the same law said that those occupying the land need to be compensated, relocated and resettled, pointing out that his subjects are still waiting to be relocated.
He said after the initial compensation given to them, the project was supposed to have taken off and provide employment opportunity for his subject, pointing out that the delay in the take take off of the project gave rise to agitations by the inhabitants whose land was taken and have no land to farm on.
He said “we expect that if the project starts, it will absorb our people and they will be busy doing something to keep the, busy. But the delay led to agitation. The compensation that was paid to them is finished and yet, they have nothing to fall back o“They have returned to farm on their land. So, they should be paid compensation for their crops and the government should ensure that the project starts so that there will be no more agitation”.
It was however learnt that over N1 Billion was paid as compensation for the about 1,262 hectare of land earmarked for the Centenary City, with only N306 Million paid for the Economic trees in the land while the rest went to developers in the area.
Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Emmanuel Jime said all contending issues that hampered the takeoff of the project which was meant to celebrate Nigeria’s Centenary anniversary.
He said that the realization of the project will encourage Direct Foreign Investment into the country, describing it as a flagship project which will provide the kind of infrastructures that have not been seen before in the country.
Managing Director of Centenary City Plc, Ikechukwu Michaels said about 40 local and foreign investors will participate in the development of the city, pointing out that it will be the best free zone project in the country.
He said the project was fully a private sector driven project with no single contribution of the government into its financing, adding that it will cost the private sector about 18 billion dollars to complete, providing about 150,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, one of the investors in the project, Alhaji Baba Dantata has said he will begin the construction of what he called Buhari Tower in the Centenary City within the next two months to cater for the interest of civil servants who will not be able to afford most of the houses that will be built there.
Dantata, a stanch Polo promoter said the houses in tower will be sold to civil servants at the cost of N15million which is the maximum approved for low income houses by the Federal Mortgage Bank.
He dismissed any claim that the Buhari tower was a political campaign strategy for the President, saying he is not a politician, but was only naming the project after the President because of his personal believe in what the President stand for.