Do We Have A Minister Of FCT? By Abuh Andrew
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja is very significant for various reasons, besides being the capital of Nigeria and the sit of power, it’s the best planned city in the entire country and serves as a model for planning modern Nigerian cities, the pride if you will of Nigeria. Right from its creation there has been a running battle to adhere to its master plan and maintain the standards and quality for which the city was designed. This task has always been a tough one with the city witnessing a distortion of its master plan by various administrations and administrators.
It was a great relief when in 2003 Mallam Nasir el Rufai undertook (and successfully too against all odds) the task to bring back the city to its original master plan. Unfortunately this great stride like every Nigerian dream story was quickly eroded and gradually degraded by subsequent ministers and administrations. While the degeneration of Abuja and distortion of its master plan persisted after the great strides by Mallam Nasir Elrufai, the level of such distortions however varied.
The current decay and decadence in the FCT clearly places the current FCT minister Alhaji Mohammad Musa Bello as unarguably the most ineffective minister in the history of the city. The city’s comatose state begs the question, do we really have a minister of FCT?
Before proceeding, I’ll like to make it clear that I am not just a card carrying member of the APC but also an active member of the All Progressive Youth Forum, possibly the most influential youth body within the APC. Hence, I speak as a resident of Abuja and not as a party member, as such the views expressed herein are entirely mine. Secondly I have been a resident of Abuja for over 20 years and have been through nine ministers from Lt. General Jeremiah Oseni to the current minister and have witnessed the city evolve over the years.
A tour of the city during the day and night time clearly shows that after almost two years in office, the current minister of the FCT seem not to have any bit of control or comprehension of the structure that runs the city, a clear indication that he also has no plan, strategy or vision of where he wants to take the city. If any, it would seem to be one of excuses for failure rather than development and innovation.
The deplorable environmental and sanitary condition, the horrifying surge in criminal activities such as armed robbery and kidnaping, the aggravating traffic jam situation due to non-functional traffic lights in major traffic points across the city, the pitch dark and precarious atmosphere at night due to lack of street lighting around the city, the invasion of the city by all manners of miscreants, beggars, prostitutes, street hawkers etc., tells the tale of a city that is fast becoming another urban jungle.
For the purpose of this article I will be concentrating on Abuja town and municipal, which is supposed to be the reference point and bench mark for the administration of the FCT. A cursory look at various parts of the city will give an insight into the very sad decaying state of the best planned city in Nigeria. Beginning with the highbrow sprawling district of wuse 2 which is known for its centrality, beautiful neighborhoods and relatively high rents, the decay is most obvious. The district has witnessed the most incursion of beggars, street hawkers, drug peddlers, prostitutes and miscreants, within the city.
During the day at major traffic junctions around the district, you’re are accosted by a myriad of beggars and hawkers soliciting help and patronage even to the point of aggression. You have beggars on standby at ATM points waiting to approach you and beg for money. At night, Ademola Adetokunbo road the major road in the district, is a beehive of all manners of illicit activities, from parading prostitutes, to drug dealers and peddlers advertising and breaking the law openly.
The inner residential streets is gradually been taken over by sprouting brothels and prostitute hostels attracting a huge number of patronage and all manners of characters and illicit activities. The property value in this district is fast depreciating as some areas within the district have every indices of a slum.
The city stays precariously pitch dark at night, safe for car headlights and glimmering lights from residential and commercial buildings. Driving from the Games village through Gudu around Apo legislative quarters through the secretariat road down to Banex junction onward to Next Cash and Carry down to Gwarimpa, a long stretch that takes you from one end of the city to the other, not a single working street light can be spotted. You take another stretch from life camp through old airport road down to kabusa junction through Sun City road, not one street light working. Back into the city and through inner city streets, non-functional street light poles line up across the sidewalks like decorations with some damaged by car accidents and others vandalized.
As you exit Wuse district towards Banex and first forty junction to the major express way leading to kubwa and Mabuchi, you are greeted once more by the decaying situation of the city, an improvised illegal motor park actively been run by miscreants (popularly called agbero) is brazenly operated by the road side calling out to passengers to catch the next vehicle to kubwa, suleja and other areas along the Abuja Kaduna road. Just by the same spot, a road side market has also emerged with food vendors cooking right by road side and selling all types of food, snacks and drinks. Cars are parked wrongly and indiscriminately causing serious traffic obstruction on that stretch of the road, with the whole spot littered with plastic bottles, paper and pure water sachet. It is a very ugly sight.
The Area 1 of town axis is a red spot notorious for robbery and car snatching and the ever increasing taxi and bus passenger robbery popularly known as “one chance”. Just right under the overhead bridge at Area 1by the roundabout, taxi drivers and miscreants popularly called agberos blatantly block the road taking their time to solicit for passengers without any consideration for other road users and pedestrians. It’s a lawless situation with no traffic official in sight. The roads are practically blocked and chaotic and as usual littered with all manner of filth.
Trees, flowers and grasses planted for beautification and vegetation across the city, bears evidence of the poor maintenance and incompetence that’s now the hall mark of the city. As you drive through the whole of wuse, Maitama, Garki and Jabi districts you see over grown Trees almost covering the roads, Street signs and in some cases traffic lights (that’s if they work).
The Abuja environmental protection board seem to be in comatose, not even its first charge of ensuring a clean city has been achieved. The streets are filthy and filled with illegal garbage dump sites and indiscriminate dumping of waste by residents, offices and even pedestrians. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the minister of FCT drives around the city to see the activities and conditions of the city he governs? If he does, is he happy with what he sees?
There is a rising wave of criminal activities in this once relatively secured city, top of which is robbery and kidnapping. Kidnappers have been on the prowl literally unchallenged. Kidnap stories in the city has made national headline, as Abuja is fast becoming a kidnap capital.
From the continuous decaying situation of the FCT, one thing is clear the minister must admit that he lacks the capacity to effectively run the city, 2. It’s obvious he was not prepared for the office and the responsibility and such does not have a vision or plan for the city. 3. It is apparent the minister is clearly surrounded by an equally incompetent team.
Given his obvious lack of experience and capacity, one would think the minister would assemble a competent team to help him run and optimize the potentials of the city. Why is the minister not approaching fellow party members like Mallam Nasir El Rufai who excellently administered the FCT, for advice and an effective template or Governors Raji Fashola and Akinwumi Ambode, who have successfully managed and governed a more complex mega city like Lagos, with all its attendant challenges?
The minister can for instance ask Governor Ambode to share how he was able to light up every major street in Lagos in less than 2 months which has seen a drastic reduction in crime! Or how he has been able to manage the humongous refuse situation in Lagos and kept the city clean. The FCT if well managed can self-fund itself, as such the minister’s continuous excuse of lack of funds does not hold water. The minister needs to be ingenious and look beyond federal allocation.
I am very passionate about the FCT. It should be the pride of every Nigerian. We cannot stand by and watch a beautiful city become a shadow of itself due to ineffectiveness. We will speak up and get this FCT administration to work especially when it’s part of the focused APC government ably led by President Muhammadu Buhari. This minister is clearly dropping the ball on delivering the change promised.
This is no time for excuses, it’s a time for innovation and pragmatism. If the minister cannot deliver then he may choose to leave the stage honorably.
Resides in Abuja and is a member of the All Progressives Congress.