I inherited territory developing towards chaos – FCT Minister

  • Reveals why he may never appoint mandate secretaries, aides

MINISTER of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammadu Bello, on Saturday, revealed the kind of territory he inherited after being appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he met a capital that was “developing towards some level of chaos in terms of service delivery and traffic management.”

‎He said he equally inherited a territory with chaotic development in terms of building, infrastructure and social facilities.

Speaking at a special congress organised by the FCT Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the minister said he ‎inherited a city whose infrastructure was grossly overstretched and whose planning was eroded and by-passed.

He gave reasons why his administration may never appoint mandate secretaries and retinue of aides, saying ‎ what was necessary is to strengthen institutions and allow civil servants to run the system as was obtained internationally.

The minister, who was yet to appoint key officers to assist him in delivering his mandate including a Chief of Staff, said by the time he assumed duties, contractors had already stopped work, laid off their staff and abandoned work.

According to him, insecurity also pervaded parts of the city as at the time he took over as minister.

“That is the city I met when I was appointed by President Buhari‎,” the minister said.

‎Musa said the‎ territory was, however, well conceived, well planned, and had first-class infrastructure, although it had grown exponentially more than any other city in Africa.

He said, “We encouraged contractors to come back to site. For 11 months, there were no releases for capital projects and what we did was that we requested for extension of our budget by three months so as to mobilise available contractors to site. That is why you see that semblances of work have returned.”

The minister ‎said the focus of his government was to upgrade the slums in Abuja through urban renewal programme and not to demolish them.

He however said that demolitions have to be made to make for roads and to control diseases‎, but assured that in upgrading the communities, his administration has to adopt best international practices.

‎Musa lamented the level of vandalism of government infrastructure that was ongoing in the territory, including those of the yet-to-be completed Abuja Light Rail project.

‎He said, “We have tried to instil rule of law in all we do in all offices. What we observed is that we jettisoned the laws governing Abuja and weakened the institutions.

“What we have been able to do is to strengthen the institution and give officials confidence to say no to any appointee when things are being done wrongly

“My vision is to see a day when permanent secretary or minister will tell director of land ‘give me a piece of land in that beautiful valley’ and I will like to see the day the director will say ‘no sir, that land you want is a grey area or is on water way and is part of the beauty of this city meant to be left for citizens unborn’.

“That is what we need to do, not only in FCT but in the country so as to strengthen the institutions. That is the legacy that I want to leave.

“You may also not have known that a lot of building plans are now being approved on time and even if it is not going to be approved, the person, within a given period of time, is briefed on why it is not going to be approved.

“My focus is for us to make the city efficient by completing all ongoing projects. All stretch of roads from airport to barracks will all be completed.‎ Also, Abuja light rail project, which is now 70 per cent done will be completed by December 31, 2017.

‎”Governments have always been run by civil servants. So let us not personalise offices to individuals. Instead let us strengthen the institutions.

“Another area that is a challenge to officials is the pockets of slums in FCT. What do you do to them; do you clear them or turn blind eyes to them?”