By: BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Against wide condemnation by citizens, Niger State Government has sold it’s multi million Naira Shopping Mall at Mobil roundabout at the cost of N110 million, an amount that is less than half the current market price of the structure and the cost of construction of the complex.
The Shopping complex located at the neck of the roundabout, is an uncompleted building which was started by the immediate past administration of Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu at the old Minna Central Market area.
The structure whose construction had reached about 89% completion, was enherited by the present administration in the state as it was not completed as at May, 2015 when the present administration took over the reigns of power in the state.
The present administration however listed it as a non priority project and therefore abandoned it whereas citizens in the state capital have been expressing optimism to see the shopping centre come on stream.
The erstwhile regime had planned the centre as a hub of varieties of commercial cum business district of the state capital. The giant structure is erected on a land space covering 4,300 squaremeteres where Shoprite, a multi chain international household retail goods seller was to occupy the complex at completion.
The giant structure is planned to have a central car park, a high rise tower, and other beautiful attractions and other adjoining structures to compliment the centre as a modern shopping complex for all day, all night business transactions.
As at the time work stopped on the project, the Niger state government had sank well over N247 million on the project as at 2015 beside the hundreds of millions of naira paid for acquired houses and shops and lands from citizens to make room for the giant structures.
The state government revealed on Monday that it had sold the shopping mall to Jaiz Bank Plc at the cost of N110 million, a price considered a give away even by the most conservative in estimates and cost evaluations.
Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperatives and Investment in the state, Mudi Mohammed said the state government had earlier advertised the uncompleted shopping mall for rentals for which over 106 persons purchased application forms at N5,000 each. But the state government opted to sell the shopping centre outrightly.
Though no reason was given for the state government’s decision to sell the complex and at such rock bottom price, the Commissioner rationalized the state government’s action to low interest expressed by citizens in the state to take up the Shopping complex.
He argued that the lack of interest shown by the public on the complex and the current economic situation in the country, the government decided to sell it to Jaiz Bank Plc even though he didn’t say if there were other bidders for the complex nor did he say if there was any public offer through bids process for the magnificent shopping centre.
The shopping mall was under the Niger State Development Company, (NSDC) management which oversees all such public owned shopping complex in the state.
The Commissioner said the state government has however given the new owner of the shopping centre guidelines which includes immediate take over of the structure, employment of Nigerlites and beautification of the centre.
The news of the sell of the shopping centre to Jaiz Bank was however greeted with mixed reactions as Nigerlites who expressed shock and disbelieve over the state government’s decision.
Observers view the latest development as part of outright wastage of public resources and selfishness on the part of those who were behind the sell and acquisition of the multi million naira commercial complex which stands in the centre of Minna with it’s eye catching structure already put on ground.
Even journalists called for a dispassionate investigation into the brains behind the real owners of the Jaiz Bank probe government’s rationale for selling such a well conceived shopping centre to a bank.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that Jaiz Bank Plc has a skewed ownership structure where the stock shares of the bank are privately owned and held with the Islamic Development Bank being a major shareholder while other critical stakeholders include foreign investors, foreign private investors and some unnamed Nigerian investors.
The space where the shopping centre is located was once the site of the old Minna Central Market and it’s adjourning communities who were relocated by the immediate past administration in the state after paying compensation to those whose properties and houses were affected.
The old Minna market was moved to it’s present location by the Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu’s regime but the new market was built earlier by the erstwhile regime of governor Abdulkadir Abdullahi Kure who could not relocate the market to it’s new site till he ended his tenure.