Only 35% of FCT developed in 42 years – Minister
Federal Capital Territory minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, has lamented the slow pace of development in the territory, revealing that only 35 percent of the area have been developed in 42 years.
Bello, who stated this during the commemoration of the actual movement of the nation's capital from Lagos to Abuja 27 years ago, last week, attributed the reason for the seeming slow pace of infrastructural development to activities of vandals, among others.
While decrying the effect of vandalism of basic facilities in the nation's capital, he appealed for concerted effort to tame the menace and accelerate the development of the capital city.
The minister, who was represented by the executive secretary, Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, Engr. Umar Jibril, noted that the theme of the anniversary, "27 Years After the Movement: Impact and Challenges," would provide an avenue for constructive assessment of the journey so far.
"We have every cause to pay glowing tributes to the various men and women who contributed to the realization of the first class capital. Abuja, as we are all aware, represents for us, a home grown effort to conceive, build and give to Nigerians, a capital which represents in the words of Gen. Murtala Mohammed, "a symbol of our national unity and oneness and indeed, a home to every Nigeria.
"42 years since its creation and 27 years after the movement from Lagos, Abuja has come of age. It has surpassed Lagos as the destination for foreign direct investments," Bello stated.
While listing the many challenges of the FCT, Bello stated that its "demographic expansion has proceeded beyond the projected growth plan when the city was founded", leading to infrastructure and funding problems.
Other challenges include "vandalism of public assets like manhole covers, bridge railings, transformers and streetlight poles and components, as well as plain acts of sabotage and disobedience to rules that for orderly living."
He therefore urged all Nigerians, particularly FCT residents to assist in actualizing the Abuja dream by adhering to the Abuja master plan and obeying rules and regulations.
Keynote speaker, Martins Oloja, a former editor of The Guardian Newspaper, noted that, like football, Abuja was a powerful weapon of unity.
"No doubt, we need to thank the founding fathers who gave us this beautiful city. We need to thank the kind-hearted Suleja people who swapped and gave us this name, Abuja.
"We need to use this momentous occasion to thank the original inhabitants who have endured unfulﬁlled promises for compensation and resettlements. They have been largely peaceful. They have not been disrupting meetings and assemblies of people here. They have not been pulling down monumental structures. They deserve a Nobel Prize.
"I think the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, the only institution known then deserves to be listed in Abuja's ‘Hall of Fame’ for the pioneering effort. After all, in its 42 years of existence, buildings have been collapsing but not one of FCDA’s organic buildings has collapsed", Oloja observed.
Oloja therefore advised the authorities to revisit resettlement and compensation of original inhabitants and called on them to complete democratization process of Abuja.
Director, FCT Archives and History Bureau, Ms. Cerie Jogai, in her remarks, hailed Abuja's development so far and sought for more government and private support for its development.
Jogai said: "Looking back through the years, there have been a lot of achievements in translation this noble idea into concrete developments; both in human and infrasttuctural developments to what could be termed now Abuja of our dream".
Abuja was created in 1976 by then military government of late Gen. Murtala Muhammed and on December 12, 1991, Lagos ceased to function as Nigeria's capital, as Gen. Ibrahim Babangida effected physical movement to Abuja.