The United States on Friday commenced the construction of its embassy annex, which will accommodate three of its agencies in the Diplomatic Drive, Central Area, Abuja.
The Ambassador, Mr. Terence McCulley, said at the ground breaking ceremony that the project, which would cover 7,500 square metres, would cost $119 million.
McCully said that the building would house the US Agency for International Development, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defence, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
He also listed a five-level parking garage, a swimming pool and a marine security guard quarters as part of the project.
McCully said, “Many of these team members work out of other office buildings, and must travel to the Chancery building for regular meetings.
“After the completion of this annex, they won’t have to leave this property for meetings.
“Their trips farther afield will be simplified within a coherent support structure. This effort will also improve the conditions under which we all work.”
The envoy said the initiative was a signal that the US considered Nigeria as an important partner.
“Our presence here is critical to maintaining that partnership. It is also a sign that the US is solidifying its commitment to staying engaged in Nigeria,” he added.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru, said the timing of project was important, given the nation’s current security challenges.
“America believes in Nigeria and its future, and takes a long term view on our relations. We will continue to work together for the success of our bi-national commission,” Ashiru said.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, said the new construction further indicated that Abuja was a safe destination for investment and tourism.
He commended the embassy for its contribution to the city’s development.
The event was witnessed by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu; and members of the diplomatic corps.
The U.S Embassy in Nigeria was moved to Abuja in 2000.
It still maintains a consulate in Lagos and plans to open one in Kano soon.