No public funds for centenary celebration
The Senate President, Senator David Mark, yesterday ordered that the government should not spend public funds on its planned Centenary celebration slated for January next year. Mark, who after listening to briefing on the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, said the Upper Chamber had no control over the event since it was supposed to be funded exclusively by the private sector.
The Senate President said the National Assembly would not tolerate extra-budgetary spending in the name of Centenary celebration just as he pointed out that such funds were not approved in the 2013 budget. Meanwhile, the SGF told the House of Representatives that the government intended to construct a 100, 000 residential capacity Centenary City capable of generating 15,000 jobs in Abuja.
Briefing lawmakers on government’s plan to celebrate 100 years of the nation’s amalgamation, Anyim said the proposed estate would also accommodate at least 500,000 people who would be transacting businesses daily at the place.
According to the SGF, the estate would be modeled in such a way as to make travelling abroad for goods and products unattractive because goods and services to be provided at the place would be basically foreign.
Anyim who told the lawmakers that the centenary celebration would be private sector driven added that the planning committee would appoint commercial marketers who would involve investors in the celebration especially in the construction of the proposed Centenary Estate to be located along the Airport Road in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the government proposes to build a new City Gate in Abuja, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centres; modern libraries in the six geo-political zones of the country and would equally uplift all the nation’s historical sites.
On the need to celebrate the nation’s 100 years of existence, Anyim told the lawmakers that it is necessary to celebrate Nigeria’s success story just as he disagreed with some people who describe the country as ‘mere geographical expression.’
He stressed that the pluralistic nature of the country should be seen as an advantage since there is no big country in the world that is monolithic in nature.
Anyim also assured that the centenary celebration would not be used to celebrate the achievement of the incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government but to celebrate all achievements recorded by the nation’s leaders since 1914.
The lawmakers, led by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who stood in for the Speaker, told the SGF that the House would study the proposal and forward its input to his office.