N69.3 billion Millennium Tower - Daily Independent

By The Citizen

The construction of the Millennium Tower is unnecessary and should be discontinued. This building which was said to have gulped N35 billion will require additional N31 billion to meet the N69.3 billion earmarked for completion. The Millennium Tower with a height of 110 metres will become the tallest building in the country when completed. The  Tower is proposed to house the Nigeria Cultural Centre, Municipal Building, rolling restaurant, museum, five star hotel, auditorium, virtual library, boutiques, botanical garden, underground parking system and a swimming pool. What is the essence of this building? We say categorically that this project is ill-advised especially as it is coming in the current privatisation process of the Federal Government. The power sector has just been privatised and the various companies under the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) have all been handed over to private investors last month. Plans are also in the offing to privatise the nation's four refineries next year. With this plan in place, is it wise for the Federal Government to continue with this project? We do not think so.

We recall that in 1992, the Federal Palace Hotel and Suites which comprised 229 rooms was privatised and taken over by the Ikeja Hotels PLC.  In a similar development, the Nicon Hilton Hotel was sold at $103 million (N14.7 billion) to Capital Leisure and Hospitality Limited, a subsidiary of Transnational Corporation Limited (Transcorp). The question now is, what is the rationale behind the construction of the five star hotel in the Millennium Tower? At a time when the Federal Government is divesting its investments in public institutions, is there any need for the same government to invest in a five star hotel? We see the construction of the five star hotel as a policy somersault and should stop forthwith.

Again, why should a new museum be built when the ones already on ground are not adequately funded and maintained? Does the country need additional museum when those on ground are not maintained? In addition, is the botanical garden necessary? What purpose will it serve? We see the proposed botanical garden in the Millennium Tower as a misplaced priority because there are botanical gardens spread across the universities in the country where interested Nigerians can visit for sightseeing. The virtual library is not also needed as there are many libraries across the country that are not at the moment properly stocked with modern books. The existing libraries should be revamped rather than build new ones.  Is the rolling restaurant the greatest need of Nigerians presently? We do not think so as there are more pressing needs such as housing, jobs, erratic power supply and insecurity.

Can we say with all sense of patriotism and honesty that this project is necessary considering other priority needs in the country? We do not think along that direction. What are the economic values of this project to the Nigerian masses? We believe this project will go the way other white elephant projects that were not completed have gone.

Can this project be compared with the second Niger Bridge in terms of its economic values to the people? We are of the view that the N69.3 billion earmarked for the Millennium Tower should be invested in the construction of the second Niger Bridge or additional railway lines that will improve the transportation sector which  will in turn impact positively on the masses.

Certainly, at this time that the Federal Government is vigorously and aggressively pursuing its privatisation programme, we do not, in the least, expect the same government to waste funds on white elephant projects such as the Millennium Tower. We therefore condemn the construction of the Millennium Tower in strong terms and demand that it should be stopped. The funds earmarked for this project should be channelled into other productive sectors of the economy.