Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Vandalism of public utilities in FCT

When a pot of soup is full of sand, the blind man can tell, says a Nigerian adage. This wise saying is applicable to the rate of wanton destruction of public utilities in the Federal Capital Territory. Everywhere one turns, it is likely to see how government infrastructures are being vandalized with impunity. Unarguably, this ignoble and unpatriotic act has huge economic implications on government and residents, alike.

A first time visitor to the nation's capital will see glaringly how government utilities procured by huge resources ranging from underground electrical cables, bridge railings, man-hole covers, generators to power street lights among other utilities are being vandalized or stolen by scrupulous elements.

To curb this ugly trend, the FCT Administration has solicited the partnership of both the media and the judiciary in the fight against vandals of public utilities. 

Few weeks ago, when the Publisher of The Abuja Inquirer newspaper, Mr. Dan Akpovwa, led a delegation of the management team on a courtesy visit to FCT Minister, the issue of vandalization of public infrastructures took the center stage.

During the visit, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, used the occasion to state very clearly that the task of running a mega city like Abuja should not be left in the hands of government alone.

Bello, who expressed regret over the vandalization of public facilities in the Federal Capital Territory called on media owners to assist government in the area of advocacy.

Also, during the commencement of 2017-2018 Legal Year of the FCT High Court of Justice, Bello used the occasion to appeal to the judiciary to assist in the battle against vandalisation of public facilities.

He said: “I would like to humbly solicit your hand of fellowship in the strident efforts we are making to improve the infrastructure and provide utilities for the Federal Capital Territory.

“You may wish to however, note that in our drive to achieve these, we encounter serious cases of sabotage through the efforts of hoodlums who are bent on pillaging public utility facilities like electric poles, manhole covers, railways cables and line among others. We would seek your cooperation in the effort to check this menace as these culprits are arrested and brought to face the long arm of the law.”

However, while we agree with the minister that the task of running a mega city like Abuja should not be left in the hands of government alone, we strongly believe that various security agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting public facilities have not done enough to address this knotty challenge.

It is on record that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NCSDC, by the NSCDC (Amendment) Act, 2007, has the mandate to not only provide protection, crisis resolution but provide security to public infrastructures.

By virtue of the law, the NSCDC is expected to provide 24-hour surveillance over infrastructures, sites and projects for the federal, state and local governments.

Regrettably, what we see among personnel of NSCDC in Abuja and other cities in Nigeria is in sharp contrast to their core mandate. It is about time that the corps lives up to the responsibility rather than act as domestic appendages of senior government officials and their families.

While we agree with the FCT Minister that the media and the judiciary should play their role of advocacy and dispensation of justice in the battle against vandalism, we equally call on him to use his good office to leverage on this special corps to tackle the menace of vandalism. 

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