Tasks for the next FCT minister
On November 11, 2015, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello assumed duties as the 16th minister of Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, following his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari and subsequent clearance by the Senate.
He succeeded Senator Bala Mohammed whose tenure lasted from April 8, 2010 to May 29, 2015.
He came on board to implement the Change mantra of the All Progressives Congress, APC, government. Interestingly, by the end of this month, the tenure of this administration will come to an end and expectations are rife as to whether Bello will be retained in the cabinet and return to his beat in the FCT or they will be a new helmsman.
Retrospectively, in January 25, 2016, Bello unveiled his targets, objectives and goals.
He harped on the imperative to return to the idea conceived by Abuja founding fathers which is for it to be a symbol of Nigeria's aspirations for unity and greatness.
The objective was to facilitate an administration that promotes modern and sustainable city, while the goal was to make the quality of life of residents of the territory more meaningful through a secure, environmentally friendly and responsive service delivery by all agencies of the FCTA.
It was without a doubts that he had focus, understanding of what he wanted for the FCT, irrespective of how history ends up judging his tenure.
Upon assumption of duties, the minister noted myriads of challenges confronting the territory to include but not limited to overstretched infrastructure due to rapid population growth; poor maintenance culture: poorly maintained roads, street and traffic light system; blocked water and sewer lines; poor waste management practices; acute problem of traffic congestion and difficulties with water supply.
Others were litany of uncompleted projects (including critical major infrastructure as well as satellite towns’ projects), beggars and street hawkers, inadequate or poor condition of available education and health facilities and dwindling finances.
The minister, who leads the implementation of the change agenda in FCT, upon assumption of duties, outlined some action plans.
The plans are the completion and opening of roads and other ongoing projects, reinvigoration of the Abuja Mass Transit, completion and commissioning of the light rail system, improving on cleanliness of the city, effective waste management and removal of illegal and environmentally hazardous structures.
Others are enforcement of extant sanitation regulations on street hawking and begging, not to embark on huge new projects that do not have any meaningful multiplier effect, development of affordable mass housing schemes and infrastructure at satellite towns in partnership with the private sector, repairs of broken water distribution facilities, provision of adequate teaching aids, vigorous school inspections, training and welfare of teachers and health workers, rehabilitation of schools and hospitals, enforcement of relevant regulations guiding the practices of private schools and hospitals as well as active and constant engagement with all stakeholders.
However, some of the achievements are: completed and initiated projects: City infrastructure Outer Northern Expressway (Kubwa Zuba Expressway), Shehu Musa YarAdua Expressway (Airport Expressway), Bill Clinton Interchange/Bridge, Aso Villa Roundabout Bridge, Constitution and Independent Roads (Roads B6 and B12), East end of Inner Southern Expressway (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Expressway), Extension of Inner Southern Expressway (ISEX) from the Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX) to the Southern Parkway, Left-Hand Service Carriageway of the Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX), Stage II, from Ring Road 1 (RRI) Junction to Wasa Junction.
Ground-breaking ceremony performed on November 20, 2017. 5km Right-Hand Service Carriageway of Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX), Stage III, from Ring Road III junction to Wasa junction to the city, Southern Parkway Jahi District Engineering Infrastructure. Access Road to Kabusa Garden Estate, Wasa Resettlement Engineering Infrastructure project, over 30 pedestrian bridges, Greater Abuja Water Project at $470 Million in partnership with EXIM Bank of China, payment of N6.9b to 627 indigenous contractors in the last quarter of 2016. Payment of another N3.3b billion to 403 other contractors with bills less than 100 million in the first quarter of 2017 Satellite towns infrastructure Karshi-Apo Road 1.9 km Nyanya-Gbagarape Road 16.5 km Kuje-Gwagwalada bypass, Karu Phase 2 Township Infrastructure, Shere-Galuwyi Resettlement Town Engineering Infrastructure. Abaji-Rubouchi Link Road, Abaji Ecological Control Project, Karshi Town Ecological Project and Phase 1 of the FCT Mass Transit Light Rail at revised contract sum of $823, 540,545.87, provided by the EXIM Bank of China and the FCTA at 60 - 40 percent basis.
No doubt, the last four years in FCT witnessed sincere commitment to transform critical sectors of the territory. From provision of infrastructure to the city and satellite towns to security, economic empowerment and safety nets as well as agricultural development.
Its consolidation is what the next minister which comes on board on May 29, 2019 seeks to actualize.
But in order to record successes in the next four years, the FCTA needs to first and foremost decide to run an inclusive government. This demands that it incorporates critical stakeholders into government processes as a way to engender popular participation of citizens in the governance of the territory.
Specifically, the incoming minister in FCT should involve women, youths, lobbyists, opinion moulders, the disabled, technocrats and representatives of pressure groups in the administration of the territory.
But to expand the scope, consideration of more indigenous people of the territory for relevant appointments will be a right step in the right direction.
This is predicated on the fact that it amounts to gross injustice to alienate locals in political process of any democratic society.
It is in that light that the time has come for the creation of a political office in the FCTA headed by a Senior Special Assistant and indigene to coordinate indigene affairs.
Aside consideration for indigenes, it is equally the expectation that people living with disabilities in the territory are given a new lease of life by being fully integrated into the democratic-governance space in the territory.
Consideration should equally be given to investment, research, innovation and enterprise development in all its ramifications.
The question in the next four years should be, how do we help more residents own their homes?
To achieve this, consideration should be given to offering housing subsidies for the lower income earners and giving attention to provision of decent mass housing for the poor in the territory.
Being open in its dealings will better position the FCT Administration to act effectively and efficiently towards the needs of residents.
With these, it is obvious that there is so much expected of the incoming minister in the next four years.