The national vice-chairman (South-south) of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, has described the centenary city built during the former administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as a blueprint for corruption.
He also dismissed the claim that the centenary city was a public private partnership arrangement.
The centenary city in Abuja was conceived by the Jonathan administration as part of Nigeria’s centenary anniversary. The N2.976tn project, which occupies a landmass of 1,200 hectares, is to be modeled after modern cities like Dubai, Shenzhen, Monaco and Singapore as well as serve as political and economic tool for securing foreign investment. It has a 10-year completion period.
But speaking with reporters in Abuja at the weekend, the PDP chieftain claimed that a huge chunk of land was allotted to one man, who went to incorporate the centenary city as a free zone, describing it as “crime personified”.
Dr. Ojougboh said he had personally wrote a letter to then President Jonathan on several occasions concerning the centenary city telling him it was wrong to create a free zone in the city centre, stressing that the issue of centenary city has made some Nigerians to believe that the PDP is a corrupt party.
“Find out. The centenary city is owned by one man and when he come he will start calling names; Abdulsalam Abubakar, this and that. If you go to the Corporate Affairs Commission, you will see the owner of the centenary city. There are two companies owned by one man who was in charge of the office of the SGF. And of course, personally, I severally wrote a letter to Mr. President telling him that this thing is wrong, that you cannot create a free zone in the centre of the city.
“That if you live in a free zone, you need visa to go in and out, that if you make the centenary city a free zone, you are going to deprive Nigerian industries of income and employment. In Dubai where you have free zones, the land belongs to the government. Today, the certificate of occupancy of the so-called free zone is in bank fold that is what they used to be getting money to be building the free zones. It is such things that people begin to tag PDP as a corrupt party.
“Somebody within that office called the SGF had impunity to tell Nigerians lies that the centenary city is a public private partnership arrangement; I mean it is a lie. In fact, huge chunk of land was given to only one man and it didn’t stop there. He now went to incorporate the entity as a free zone. Where have you ever seen it in this world? It is crime personified.
“But we are going to re-build the party and if we don’t tell ourselves the truth, we won’t be able to rebuild the party. I have told you why the PDP lost the election. But as a PDP member, I am telling you that PDP is not corrupt. But what I know is the issue of the centenary city which I know that, that place is a blueprint for corruption and that entity is corrupt. That is what I am saying”, he said.
The PDP national vice chairman, who also questioned the release of over N700 billion by President Muhammadu Buhari to states to offset backlog of workers’ salaries, said the gesture smacked of illegality since the money was not appropriated by the National Assembly.
“The issue with it is the method of disbursement, did the National Assembly approve it? You see, this is where democracy comes in. Was it appropriated, that bail out? Does it have legal backing? The PDP is a party and is watching”, he said.