When former Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike was appointed minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), it was met with a lot of excitement.
Wike’s appointment is historic. It marks the first instance of a Southerner holding the position of FCT minister in its history.
During his tenure as Rivers governor, Wike was celebrated as “Mr. Projects.” Hardly a month passed without a major project being inaugurated in Rivers.
He commissioned a plethora of infrastructure projects even up to his last day in office.
Wike engineered a transformation of Rivers’ infrastructure landscape and this achievement is precisely why many FCT residents greeted his appointment with enthusiasm, as the city yearns for the sort of development he brought to Rivers.
Nearly four decades after it was made the capital city of Nigeria, the Abuja landscape is still dotted with all manner of unfinished projects, some white elephant in nature.
Some of the mega projects appear to be jinxed as they have outlived several administrations of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) but remain uncompleted, despite the huge amount of money that went into them.
21st CENTURY CHRONICLE investigations have identified these multi-billion beautiful projects that are either abandoned, or with works ongoing at snail pace. Among them are the Millennium Tower and Cultural Centre, Utako General Hospital, World Trade Centre, and Abuja City Centre.
Residents of Abuja are eager to see how Wike’s touch will lead to the completion of some of these projects and turn around the story of Abuja as the graveyard of unfinished projects.
18 years on, Millennium Tower project lingers
Despite being called the Millennium Tower and Cultural Centre, the project located in Abuja’s Central Business District was conceptualised in 2005, five years into the new millennium, under the Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration, and projected to be completed in 2011.
The tower was designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti; and its construction awarded to another Italian construction firm, Salini at $333 million (N53 billion). It was planned to be to Abuja what other major monuments across the world such as the London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Statue of Liberty in the United States, are to those countries.
Standing at 170 metres (560 ft), the tower was expected to be Nigeria’s tallest building when completed along with an eight-storey, low rise, pyramid shaped Cultural Centre. Construction for the tower started in 2008 and was topped out in 2014 whilst the cultural centre is still under construction. An underground arcade links the Millennium Tower and the Cultural Centre which are severed by a main road, while a disc-shaped section housing two floors include a restaurant where visitors will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the city below while they dine.
A lot of people considered the plan outlandish at the time, but that was not enough to stop the government.
As at 2017, construction work on the project was only 38 percent completed, even as there were no budgetary provisions for the project in 2016 and 2017.
In 2019, the contracting firm, during a visit by the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, to the site, revealed that it had submitted extension of time claims to the tune of N4.9 billion for 36 months to the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and that an additional sum of $500 million (N38.2 billion) would be required for the project to be completed.
In the 2021 budget, N1 billion was allocated for design and construction of the project.
In 2022, former Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had said during an inspection of the state of the project that to complete it, the federal government would require $400 million and that it was looking in the direction of the private sector for the investment.
The new FCT minister, Nyesom Wike has, however promised to complete the project within two years.
The project is currently at 40 per cent completion and is expected to, upon completion, be self-reliant as revenues would be generated from all the commercial activities in the complex.
“It is a very ambitious project, but again if we are talking of Abuja being one of the best cities in the world, then we must have such a facility.“
“I can tell you it is not easy to go into that project, but we decided that whatever it takes, it is going to be one of the legacy projects for President Bola Tinubu.”
220-bed Utako General Hospital
This is one project that seems to have been jinxed and its construction has lingered for over a decade.
It is one very important public institution that would serve residents of |Utako, Jabi, Wuye and other environs yet, it has received the least attention since it started.
Construction of the 220-bed Utako General Hospital started in 2011.
The contract for the construction and equipping of the hospital was awarded to M/S PPC Medical Systems at the cost of over N4.3 billion.
Ten years later, not much has been achieved as the contract site has been abandoned by the contractor and taken over by miscreants, while residents of neighbouring houses have turned it into a refuse dump site.
Though the various buildings at the site are at various stages of completion, not much progress has been made especially since 2014 when a part of the building under construction collapsed, necessitating a stop work order and setting up of a ministerial investigation panel headed by then permanent secretary, John Chukwu.
According to reports, as at 2016, approximately N2.222 billion of the N4.263 cost of the project was said to have been disbursed on the project which is still far from completion.
In 2019, the then secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat, Adamu Bappah, assured that the FCTA was poised to sort out all pending matters on the project.
The project has however remained abandoned with no hope in sifght for its completion.
N700 billion Abuja City Centre
In 2015, the federal government gave approval to Messrs. Chikason Group and partners, Eagle Hills, Abu Dhabi, to immediately commence work on the N700 billion Abuja City Centre project, after the architectural design was done and approved by the government.
Sitting on 17 hectares in Abuja’s city centre, the project was designed to include four international hotels, residential houses, offices and shops as well as condominium. The project was expected to be completed within a period of between 60-120 months;
Then FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, revealed that the Centre would be a mixed-use development that has the capacity to generate about 10,000 jobs with its multiplier effect on the economy of the entire country.
“The land premium as well as the development control charges accruable to the FCT Administration would be used as its equity contribution to the project.”
“In addition, the investors would construct a National Mall at the cost of 40million US Dollars at no cost to the FCT Administration,” he said.
The status of the project remains unknown, eight years later.
Unending World Trade Centre
The World Trade Centre (WTC) complex under construction in the Central Business District of Abuja, was conceptualised to be the largest mixed-use development on the West African subcontinent.
Located on a land size of over 6,000 hectares in the Central Business District, the over $1 billion (N152 billion) project was launched in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan with 2013 as target completion date.
It is being developed by The churchgate Group, a Nigerian real estate company, with Woods Bagot as the architect.
The projected completion date could not be met and was attributed to challenges in design and development.
There are seven skyscrapers planned for the site, two of which have already been topped out, with the others either under construction or at various stages of development. At 110 metres (361ft), the 24-floor WTC Tower 1, which topped out in 2015 is said to be the tallest residential building in Nigeria, while WTC Tower 2 is the tallest building in Abuja, standing at 120 metres (394ft).
Endless Apo-Karshi road
The traffic on the Abuja-Keffi road prior to its dualization, prompted the government to come up with another road to reduce traffic on the existing one.
The Apo-Karshi road project was, therefore, conceived and contract for its construction awarded in 2011.
The 13 kilometre Apo -Karshi road project was awarded to M/S Kakatar’ CE. Big. Limited in 2011, at N6, 355, 609, 124. 53 with a completion period of 20 months.
Twelve years later, there seems to be no end in sight even though the contractor, according to the Senate, had admitted receiving full funding of the project.
The project has made too many budget appearances and Smart Adeyemi, chairman of the Senate committee on FCT, had said in 2022 during a visit to the project site that it had become embarrassing.
Poor budgetary provision and inadequate funding have been said to be the major factors militating against the project.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the contractor had jerked up the project cost to N97 billion and that the government was willing to make it N33 billion.
There is also the issue of design as the FCT administration has reportedly been unable to come up with an appropriate design for the Karshi-Apo section, which is about five of the over 13 kilometres of the entire stretch.
It was gathered that the FCT administration has so far paid the sum of N4,542,975,288.14 out of the N6.3 billion contract sum to the contracting firm, leaving a balance of the N1.8 billion of the original contract sum.
In 2013, the FCTA announced that it had awarded contract for the design and construction of a dam treatment, plants, tanks, and other bulk water supply to Karshi satellite town.
The contract was awarded to SCC Nigeria.
About 10 years later, project seems to have been forgotten about as the government has done little or nothing with regards to it.
It was gathered that the contract was awarded at over N19.438 billion and the FCTA released over N3.501 billion to the company, after which work commenced on the project, with the digging of the first layer of both the main water borehole and the reservoir, but not much has been done so far to justify the money collected to execute the project.
This is another important road project designed to make life easier for FCT residents but the project has seen six years with no end in sight.
The road is supposed to start at Apo and run through Wasa district and Kuje town, terminating at Gwagwalada.
The Apo-Wasa road segment was awarded in 2017 by the FCT and was expected to be completed within 12 months at the cost of about N8.62 billion.
Other critical projects residents of the territory will love to see completed include Galadimawa roundabout interchange, Wuye-Wuse overhead bride/interchange, Area 1 roundabout, Gudu roundabout, among others.
Ever since he resumed as minister of the FCT, Wike has met with contractors, toured projects and said there is no room for abandoned projects in the territory.
The FCTA, according to the minister, is seeking alternative funding options o complete the projects.