Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has left not a few people in doubt about his seriousness to make the capital city “working again.”
To this end, he is sparing no effort to make the point including implementing harsh decisions and acting like an emperor.
In his first few days in office, he sounded the warning to staff of the administration who were uncomfortable with his style to seek redeployment. The question is, what is his style?
Does it mean inflicting pains, taking unilateral decisions and carrying them out with the speed of light, or conferring with other management of the FCTA before implementing his vision for Abuja?
Over the years, each minister has touted the Abuja Masterplan as their guiding light, a sort of beacon that shows the way.
However, for each administration, the singsong remains the same. The problems remain unchanged. The tactics similar but only to the degree of execution. Then something suggests that those who have superintended and are on the seat currently should change their modus-operendi or wake up from their alternate reality.
Right from the days of demolitions instituted by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, successive ministers have used demolition as a yardstick of performance.
Even the alleged dour immediate past minister, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello carried out the demolition of over 5, 000 structures mostly in rural communities and outskirts of the city.
Mr. Wike has started with a similar venture, but this time with little or no notice for the affected settlements.
For a country with acute housing deficit, it is germane that there is need for the authorities in Abuja to find creative ways to accommodate the millions of Nigerians who daily throng the FCT for better life and living.
The very notion that the developed areas are out of reach of over 90 percent of residents of the territory is not good enough.
Almost four decades of Abuja, less than 25 percent of the conceived districts are developed. What this means is that the current administration should focus on providing infrastructure in opening up the other districts and grant concessions to estate firms that will provide affordable housing unlike the shady ones that the minister has come to know of.
Furthermore, it is a good thing that there massive surge in the liquidating of ground rents by homeowners in Abuja so much so that almost N2 billion have been paid in about 10 days from available records.
An exultant Acting Director of the Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS, Isiaku Ndatsu Alfa, who disclosed the rush to pay up the ground rents went overboard when he said, “This is the first time since the inception of the FCT that we have somebody at the helm of affairs, the FCT minister, who cares about the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).”
Mr. Minister, this is churlish, untrue and reason you should be wary of early applause. In May this year, your predecessor, Musa Bello, announced the implementation of a digital platform to ease the establishment and growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in the Federal Capital Territory as part of measures to shore up the IGR of the FCT.
“These reforms will help to create a more transparent, predictable, and efficient regulatory environment for businesses.
“In addition, we are working to streamline and simplify regulations and procedures for business registration, property registration, and land use planning,” Bello said at that time.
Before now in September 2021 at a stakeholders retreat on Internally Generated Revenue in the FCT which held in Lagos, Bello charged them to collaborate with the administration to improve revenue in the nation’s capital and surpass Lagos State.
Bello said: “In a nutshell, the FCT is not faring badly, but it is not yet Uhuru because we are performing far below our set expectations in terms of revenue generation and I am confident this retreat will enable us to consolidate and reposition on the right pedestal to even overtake Lagos in the area of IGR.
“Our IGR in terms of per capita last year actually placed us next to Lagos, ahead of Rivers State with N24,600 per person. Judging from FCT’s population estimates of the 2006 census, inclusive of the five percent growth rate between 2016 and 2020, Rivers State places third with IGR per capita of N15,281.
“However, in terms of total amount of IGR for 2020, FCT generated little over N102 billion and was ranked third behind Rivers State, which realised N117.19 billion.”
Beyond the issue of IGR, Minister Wike should realise that governance is about people and any government that loses this fact and fails to wear human face in its quest for development and financial growth tethers on a precipice.