Home Feature Our N90bn tied down in Abuja land swap – Investors lament

Our N90bn tied down in Abuja land swap – Investors lament

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Investors in the Abuja land swap project have appealed to government to allow them execute the contracts they signed with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) lamenting that their $250 million (N90 billion) worth of investment is tied down.

The investors who met in Abuja on Friday dwelt on the challenges they face as a result of the suspension of the land swap project.

The Secretary General of Land Swap Investors Association, Mr John Iyobhe who spoke with Viewpoint Housing News shortly after the meeting said investors have put down huge stakes.

He explained, “Investors made an initial commitment fee of N350 million in 2014. At that time, it was N150 to a dollar. So it was $2 million initial investment in the project.

“And that money was used to do surveying, engineering designs, logistics works, etc.

“Beyond that $2 million — N350 million as at that time, investors spent additional sums of money in financial obligations to third parties in engaging consultants. Apart from the consultants that FCDA [Federal Capital Development Authority] appointed, we also appointed our own consultants and we paid them money.

“So each investor would have invested additional N300 million to N400 million to that. So each investor would have spent close to a billion at that time. And the naira was still strong at 150 to the dollar.

“In totality, we’ve collectively spent over $250 million in developing Abuja Phase 4 today. And that money is still tied down in the project and it is unfair that the project has not been implemented by government.

“We’ve communicated with the minister [Muhammad Musa Bello]. We’ve communicated with the Villa with regards to this project.

“We’ve been given assurances that the project would be implemented as soon as investigations were over by the national assembly.

“Investigations were concluded over two years ago. And they gave the project a clean bill of health.

“The House of Reps’ report was positive, in our favour. The senate report from Senator Dino Melaye committee was also positive. None of them indicted the project or any investor of any wrong doing.

“So we’re shocked that two, three years down the line, no implementation deadline or date has been given the investors after we’ve put in our money.”

Iyobhe therefore, reiterated the position of the investors.

“Our main cry is either you implement or you give us our money back. We’re looking for $1 billion compensation from FCDA if they don’t implement the project.

“You can’t take our money and tell us to go to hell. Contracts have been signed, sealed, delivered and gazetted. They’re gazetted contracts. They’re part of the federal laws of this country.

“Whether it’s a PDP government or an APC government or a Green Party government, the contracts would be implemented.

“There’s what we call the sanctity of contract – irrespective of which political party is heading the government.

“That’s why we’re calling for full implementation of the project – or the refund of a billion dollar-compensation to all the investors who’re involved in land swap,” the Secretary General stated.

Viewpoint Housing News gathered that already, one of the investors has petitioned the presidency accusing the FCT minister of truncating the land swap project. Sources say this has greatly riled the minister.

Upon coming into office, the current administration put a stop to land swap. Though the policy has not been officially proscribed, investors cannot go to site.

The minister is said to have branded the investors as portfolio investors who lack capacity to execute the signed contracts.

It is also the general feeling of the original inhabitants of Abuja that land swap is another way of grabbing Abuja land.

But the investors who are peeved by the minister’s position lament that they have been defamed and their business threatened as many professionals are rendered jobless and there is general downtime for the companies.

According to the investors, government collected their engineering designs and incorporated them in the Abuja master plan without due consideration for them.

When contacted on this matter, the Chief Press Secretary to FCTA, Mr Cosmas Uzodinma referred our reporter to the Director of Geographic Information System (AGIS), Mr Adamu Hussaini Jibrin. The director said he would not speak on the matter adding that government will speak about land swap at the appropriate time.

The investors’ meeting resolved to delegate five among them to reach out to government to state their plight.

They stressed the need to convince the FCT minister to have positive disposition toward the investors maintaining that not everything the previous administration did is bad.

The meeting also resolved to hold a workshop where stakeholders will look into the challenges that have befallen land swap.

They noted that land swap as done in places like UAE, Singapore is the best thing, pointing out that many neighborhoods in Abuja are without infrastructure.

The multi-billion naira pilot Land Swap project was launched in Abuja in Feb. 2015 by the then Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo.

It was said that by this time, the Federal Capital City (FCC) would have witnessed massive housing and infrastructure transformations.

Sambo said with land swap, the yoke of commercially viable public infrastructure provision would shift from government’s shoulders to the private sectors’.

Land swap became desirous considering that FCTA has a resettlement and compensation bill of between N55 billion and N60 billion within the area covered in the land swap project which investors are ready to fund.

Investors were to pay the resettlement and compensation bills for existing indigenous villages, economic trees and crops. After doing all this, the investors would to provide engineering infrastructure.

 

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