“You could’ve done better”
By Our Correspondents
As the ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, and Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, bow out from office after four years overseeing the FCT Administration, residents of the territory say that the duo could have done better.
This was their assessment of the performance of Bello and Aliyu in the areas of security, infrastructure development, city sanitation, among other sectors.
While some respondents believe that the territory has recorded remarkable improvements in critical areas in the eight years tenure of the Bello-led administration, others believe that the city had deteriorated given the myriad of security challenges bedevilling the territory, poor sanitation, pace of development in the satellite towns, government interphase with communities, among others perimeters.
Uncompleted projects completion
Some of the residents, who spoke to our correspondents, commended the FCT minister for completing most of the uncompleted projects he met on ground as against the tradition of initiating new ones and leave the city with several uncompleted projects.
Recall that immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari, had in his first tenure mandated the FCT Administration to concentrate on completing major infrastructure projects that will have direct impact on the people.
Therefore, projects like the Goodluck Jonathan Expressway, the 10-lane freeway Southern Parkway stretching from the National Ecumenical Centre to Ring Road 1/Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway, were all completed under the Muhammad Bello’s administration.
Similarly, new projects like the Bill Clinton Bridge by the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Junction, the B 12 and B 6 roads along the Church Gate area were all initiated and completed by the past administration.
Before the exit, the Bello administration was also handling the extension of the Inner Southern Expressway, ISEX, from the Outer Southern Expressway, OSEX, at the AYA Bridge in Asokoro to the Southern Parkway.
The administration was also working on the construction of the 15km left-hand service carriageway of the OSEX Stage II from the Ring Road I to Wasa Junction.
Bello also continued with the provision of engineering infrastructure to Wuye, Jahi and Guzape II districts, as well as undertaking the dualization of the Lower Usuma Dam-Gurara Water Transfer project in Kaduna State.
Poor city sanitation, waste management, security
Inspite of these developments, some residents still scored the FCT Minister low in the areas of security, city sanitation and waste management, among several other perimeters.
A resident of Abuja, Comrade Joseph Itodo, said on a scale of 1 to 10 percent, the minister scored only 3 percent based on his performance.
According to him, FCT, which is the capital of Nigeria, needs to set the pace for other parts of the country but it is lagging behind in many ways.
“I came to Abuja in 2015 as a corper, at least, at that time most of the street lights were working, but as I am talking to you if you walk down the streets of Abuja at night, you would imagine if this is the capital of Nigeria.
“Aside that, I remember vividly as at 2013, 2014, there was this company that maintained roads; you would see them covering potholes and other road maintenance almost every week.
“But I bet you go round Abuja right now, there are potholes everywhere. Then, right now scavengers are even dragging peoples’ property in Abuja with the owners.
“The new government needs to electrify Abuja. If you move within the city centre at night you would discover that in most places there is no light. Secondly, on the issue of sanitation, Abuja is no longer a neat place.
“In the area of security, I dare say the minister has not performed well as Abuja is not safe anymore. The criminals do what they like. People are afraid of going out at night. There are some dark spots in FCT like the Mabushi area and around Wuse Market. At night you can’t pass there and if your car breaks down there you are done. So, security, sanitation, electricity.
“If you can do a survey, go round the streets of Abuja, look at how the place is looking dirty. If any administration coming in works on these four things, Abuja would be a place of our dreams,” he said.
Another resident, who identifies simply as Mr. Clinton, said the minister hasn’t done badly, looking at what other ministers have done in the past.
“If I am to rate him, I would give him 5 over 10 percent. The city has witnessed transitions from one administration to the other trying to solidify security, infrastructural development and accountability.
“He hasn’t done badly because security at the FCT at some point was deteriorating but at this juncture, it has been curbed to the barest minimum. So, in terms of security, he has done very well. The methodology he used include daytime raiding of criminal hideouts, demolition of shanties and criminal hideouts to ensure that the environment is secured,” he said.
On infrastructural development, Clinton said he could not give the minister a pass mark because most of the ongoing projects in the FCT are projects of previous administrations.
He however commended Bello for not abandoning them but continued where other ministers stopped to make sure that those projects are completed.
For Mr Azuka Uhebor, issues of security and sanitation have dented the minister’s performance as they remain issues of concern to residents of the territory.
“There is no change in Abuja eight years after. The minister tried his best, but he left much to be done. I think the incoming government needs to provide more security and ensure that the environment and everything is in place in Abuja,” Uhebor said.
They accused the minister of interfacing with communities only during crises situation.
A resident, who gave his name as Elisha Shekwolo, said the minister only interfaced with stakeholders in his during the End SARS protest which threatened the peace of the territory.
“The only time the minister met with stakeholders here was in 2020 when she met with wives of traditional rulers at the Sa Kpeyi’s Palace in Garki and we believe that meeting was triggered by the End SARS protest because since then we haven’t had a one-on-one with the FCT ministers to give us that sense of belonging.”
He alleged that the minister of state was only active when it came to grassroots mobilizing for political rallies, stating that, “most of us don’t even know who the FCT ministers were because they were not visible, you don’t see them on television commissioning projects and the likes. I only got to know the minister of state during the campaigns where she was organising the grassroots for the APC but before then, we hardly see or hear from them.”
In the provision of infrastructure for satellite towns which is under the purview of the minister of state, the administration is seen to have done relatively well in opening up the satellite towns through road construction.
Samuel Adeh, a resident of Yaba, Kubwa, said several roads have been constructed in his community.
“The road construction in the satellite towns have opened up the communities especially here in Bwari Area Council. Areas we thought have long been abandoned by government are now receiving attention and people moving in to decongest the developed areas. Even if you go as far as Abaji, you find that roads like that of Yaba have been constructed. This was an area that was hardly assessable before now so I will say this administration has succeeded in opening up the rural areas.
Some of the projects undertaken by the Satellite Towns Development Department and completed between 2019 to 2023 include the rehabilitation of Daurama street at Kuchiyako in Kuje, rehabilitation of the Fruits Market Road, Zuba, construction of secondary regional road from Dangara to Yaba town, completion of the Nyanya/Gbagalape road which was awarded in 2014, upgrading of 1.2km Blessed road in Kubwa Satellite Town, among other projects
In the area of provision of health care, staff of the FCTA say the FCT has no had it this good in recent times.
The Executive Secretary of the FCTA Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Yahaya Vasta, told The Abuja Inquirer that the health sector has enjoined a number of counterparts funding from development partners due to the level of commitment shown by the administration.
“For instance, before a state can be said to qualified for the Basic Healthcare Intervention Fund, there are certain conditions that the state must meet. The FCT has met all of these criteria and also provided its counterparts funds every year.”
He added that most primary healthcare facilities in the territory are now accessible to a lot of people because the facilities have been revamped with more human resources, availability of drugs, and their environment renovated to meet the required standards.