Abuja — The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the construction of a new city in Abuja as part of activities to mark Nigeria's centenary celebration slated for 2014.
Nigeria, as a geo-political entity, came into existence following the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 by Britain.
Nigeria, therefore, became a nation when the then Governor-General of the country, Lord Frederick Lugard, merged the Southern and Northern Protectorates.
Briefing State House correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, said the proposed new city would be private sector driven.
Maku, however, stated that the Federal Government through the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) would provide an area where the city would be sited.
"The new city that has been proposed as part of our centenary celebration is entirely private sector driven and no kobo from the government. Let that be very clear. This is absolutely private sector driven with private sector investment.
"All that government will do is to provide an area through the FCT, agree on a proper design and then it will be taken up completely, totally by the private sector.
"The only few government's facility that will be there will be an archive for celebrations."
He said the project was another way by government to encourage private sector to create additional facilities in the FCT, saying that the project might take years before completion.
President Goodluck Jonathan had said that the government would mark the nation's 100 years of existence during an official visit to Jamaica, where he attended the Caribbean country's 178th Anniversary of Emancipation and the 50th anniversary of its independence recently.
Also briefing correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of FCT, Sen. Bala Muhammed, frowned at the negative reactions of some people to FEC's approval of a new Banquet Hall at the Presidential Villa.
Muhammed dismissed claims that N2.2 billion approved for the construction of the project was not captured in the FCT statutory allocation.
"I wish to clear the misconception that we don't have a provision in the budget and to explain that the FCT operates two budgets. It is in the FCT statutory budget.
On the development of the new "Smart City", the FCT Minister stated that it was in line with government's policy of unbundling the FCT to private initiative.
He said about 16 companies would be investing about US$4 billion in the development of 10 districts in the smart city.