Public utility and vandalism in FCT
In what now appears a singsong of sorts, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, lamented the rate of wanton destruction of public utilities in the nation’s capital territory. At every opportunity since he became minister, he has not failed to raise the alarm at the deplorable conduct of criminal elements vandalizing government infrastructures with impunity. Unarguably, this ignoble and unpatriotic act has huge economic implications on government and residents, alike.
The latest of the minister’s wailing came when top management of DAAR Communications paid the minister a working visit.
It is on record that 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.
Only last year, the FCT Administration is reputed to have spent several millions in replacing all broken and vandalised traffic lighting systems, only for the replaced equipment to be revandalised and stolen. How unfortunate!
It will be recalled that at the commencement of the 2017-2018 Legal Year of the FCT High Court, Bello used the occasion to appeal to the judiciary to assist in the battle against vandalisation of public facilities.
He said at that time: “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.”
The continuous wailing by the minister leaves the impression that the administration has no concrete plan in place to effectively and efficiently tackle the menace and beat the vandals to their heinous game. And this should not be the case.
For the avoidance of doubt, the administration has all the might of the State which includes the security architecture to demonstrate its capability in addressing this menace rather this shrill helplessness it seems to give.
While it is agreed that all hands must be on deck in proffering solutions to social ills, administrative lapses cannot be ignored in this matter. What the administration ought to do is to ask why the security agencies, especially the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and police are hapless to curb the issue of vandalism in the territory.
We are not unmindful of the immense support of the administration to the security forces in the FCT, therefore, it beggars belief that at every opportunity, the security agencies cry of public destruction of property.
It should be stated 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. The idea of having dozens of officers in squads to tackle street trading and other ‘minor’ infractions does not gel well.
Hundreds of residents have fallen victims to vandalized manholes, power outages and general decay because of the brazen activities of vandals that ordinarily requires enough security personnel to be tackled.
It is in this regard that we call on the minister to give the NSCDC and other security organs the marching order to address this security threat headlong. The FCT is not just another capital, but the capital city of Nigeria housing the president and other important functionaries of government.
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