Senate Moves to Revive $18.5 Billion Centenary City Project

•Akpabio berates Nigeria Correctional Service over jailbreaks

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Senate yesterday commenced a legislative process to revive and complete the $18.5 billion Abuja Centenary City project.

This was sequel to the adoption of a motion titled, “Urgent Need to revive and complete the stalled Centenary Abuja Project.”

This was just as President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, yesterday, berated the Nigeria Correctional Service over what he described as lapses in the service.

The Senate resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to urgently investigate factors impeding the completion of the Abuja Centenary’s City project.

The Senate also charged the committee to review the original public-private partnership agreement and recommend amendments.

If necessary, the Senate plans to facilitate smooth and expeditious completion of the project within a defined timeframe.

The upper chamber urged the federal government to prioritise the revival of the Abuja Centenary City project by providing appropriate support.

It plans to resolve regulatory issues, and address any other impediments, given its beneficial potential to the economy and people of Nigeria after 10 years of stalled progress.

The motion which led to the Senate resolution was sponsored by Senator Yisa Oyelola Ashiru representing Kwara South.

He drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that the original estimated Investment for the Abuja Centenary Economic City project was $18.5 billion as of 2014, and that it was the equivalent to the size of Nigeria’s national budget at today’s exchange rate.

He explained, “The original vision for the Abuja Centenary Economie City project was for it to serve as a potential economic hub, with a plan to create over 190,000 construction jobs, 250 million permanent well-paying jobs, and residential accommodation for over 200,000 residents.”

Ashiru, noted that the Abuja Centenary City was designated as a free trade zone under the regulatory oversight of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NIPZA).

He said it was without prejudice to other statutory agencies like the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Abuja Investment Company (AIC) and Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre (AIIC).

The lawmaker further observed that significant progress had been made on the similarly ambitious $6billion Eko Atlantic City development project in Lagos.

He also observed that the Abuja Centenary City project had been stalled for almost 10 years since its commencement, with developmental estimates of less than seven per cent of road construction and other critical infrastructure as adjudged by the report of the independent investigation assessment.

Meanwhile, Akpabio, yesterday, berated the Nigeria Correctional Service over what he described as lapses in the service.

He stated this while commenting on a bill to amend the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act.

Akpabio, noted that since the Nigeria Prisons Service was changed to Nigeria Correctional Service, the nation has witnessed more jailbreaks.

He added: “Since the adoption of that name, we have had more jail breaks. Laws are meant to punish and to correct.

“If by the time you are convicted and you are sent to prison, you are even meant to learn skill and ethical reorientation and all that, it is not only when we specifically call it correctional centre and yet we are not correcting anything.

“I support the idea of having a thorough examination of the Bill for the amendment of RMAFC Act to avoid making the same mistake we made in coming up with the Correctional Services as a name.”

The RMAFC Act was approved for second reading and referred to the  Senate committee on Finance and Appropriation.

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