The foundation is to be laid in the next four weeks as work is set to begin at the site.
It will be recalled that the project, which was conceived in 2014 to serve as a remarkable project to mark Nigeria’s 100 years of existence has witnessed several hiccups arising from administrative and procedural issues.
According to the representative of one of the co-developers, Alhassan Baba Dantata, the ‘Buhari Towers’ would house many residential flats which would be sold to middle-income earners.
Dantata while speaking to journalists at the formal unveiling of the City’s master plan in Abuja on Wednesday said that naming of the towers after the incumbent President has no political undertone whatsoever.
“The name ‘Buhari’ represents the poor people of Nigeria. So as a businessman and an admirer of the president, I’m only doing this as an honour to the pro-masses vision of president Buhari.”
Also speaking, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Exports Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Hon Emmanuel Jime, who was also shown the prototype of the city said the Centenary City was a replication of Dubai Free Trade Zone, which has attracted many investors from across the globe.
He said: “I’ve had the opportunity of visiting quite a number of Free Trade Zones, but it was also strategic that I saved the best for last as this particular Zone is modelled after Dubai.
“If Abuja Centenary City had been in place before now, people wouldn’t have been spending dollars going to Dubai. What’s going on here to my understanding is a concept that’s not different from the Eko Atlantic City and also Dubai.
“If we can spend hard currencies taking our children to Dubai just to take pictures and come back, I see no reason why we shouldn’t encourage this city to succeed so that we can have our own Dubai right here in Nigeria.”
Jime said that all was set for the construction work to take off.
“There’s a report being put together, and I’m sure that once it gets to the President’s table, the City won’t be just a dream but a dream that would be realised in our time.
“A project such as this that has the potential to deliver the kinds of jobs that the government is hoping to provide, I don’t see any reason why the administration would not encourage it so that Nigerians can be gainfully employed as desired by the government.
“We want foreign direct investment, and even though there are local investors, they would need lots of dollars to bring in the necessary things and that would amount to an inflow of foreign exchange,” he added.
On his part, the Managing Director, Abuja Centenary City Plc, Mr Ikechukwu Odenigwe, told journalists that about 250,000 direct employment would be created from the project.
He said unlike other Free Trade Zones, Centenary City will utilise 100 per cent local talents and manpower to implement the project, adding that the only expatriate they have is the foreign investor from Dubai.
Odenigwe disclosed that 40 local and foreign investors were pulling resources together to build the City, with $18.76bn being committed by foreign partners from the United Arab Emirate.
He said that the master plan also took cognisance of the environment and existing infrastructures within the location.
He said: “The Centenary Economic City Free Zone, was a strategy of the government to diversify the economy of the country. It is a legacy of Nigeria’s 100 years anniversary and the economic free zone. And it will be built at no cost on government.
“With tourism, sport, entertainment and businesses, the city is very critical to Nigeria growth and even as its population is expected to grow more and it’s part of an idea to preparing the country towards a greater and better future.
“It will own the first private owned Safari Park in the world. And Over 250.000 Nigerians will be employed in the centenary city, many of which will be office work (Blue collar jobs). The City is simply a step to fighting for the future of our young ones.”
“The City is an economic free zone like Dubai, Qatar, Eko Atlantic City. Its focus is on tourism, leisure, history. And it is regulated by NEPZA.
“So far, it is the most dynamically committed Free Zone, as over $40m has already been spent by the investors in the project.
“We follow due process in everything about the development of the City. And it has been created for transparency from all investigations by the National Assembly.
“We also make sure the green spaces are connected with different bridges linking different areas of the city. The master plan is a living document which would keep changing as development progresses with a view to accommodating emerging development realities.
“It also takes care of the issue of community services where the interest of surrounding communities is taken into cognisance. This would include the provision of schools from Nursery to Secondary, neighbourhood health care and sporting facilities”.
Seated on 1262 hectares of land along the airport road, Abuja of which only 690 hectares were buildable, the City upon completion would have 360 luxury villas, 256 apartment buildings, 13 waterfront retail areas and 139 office buildings.
It will also have 466,297m integrated golf community, 313,697m of hotel suites and serviced apartments, 5 major retail centres, 46 floors of premium office, 30 floors of luxury apartments among others.