Most of the times, human beings have tendencies to react negatively to change, but when the ‘change agent’ sends the right signal that sincerity and fairness are parts of the components of the said ‘change’, then, the process becomes embraceable.
It is about a year now that the residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) started experiencing this kind of ‘change’ – many are now so sure that if sustained, the future will be better assured, especially with the current Minister, Mallam Muhammadu Bello still in charge.
What has he actually achieved in the past one year at the Federal Capital Territory? And within the specific spheres of transport, education, health, security, rural and urban development, what has been the nature of his influence on the citizens?
In seeking to answer these questions and assess Muhammadu Bello’s administration, the first thing to acknowledge is that the FCT is like a state and the powers of the Minister are limited, certainly in comparison to governors of states and chief executive officers of other world cities.
For instance, Mexico City’s mayor can pass far reaching legislations. In Berlin, the mayor can block federal legislation; the mayor of New York, arguably the world’s most powerful mayor, has a gigantic budget of £45bn (N22.5tn) at his disposal, while his London counterpart has a budget of £17bn (N13.5tn) to control and superintend on all services ranging from police to education.
Abuja is not a ministry, its administration, structure, composition is like that of a state, as a ministry, it is faced with many challenges and duplications of functions across departments and it was obvious it can no longer be run as a ministry.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), was created on December 31, 2004, and Mallam Muhammadu Bello, was appointed as Minister of the FCT by President Muhammadu Buhari on the November 11, 2015. The mandate was to: provide critical infrastructure, services to the FCT residents, wealth creation and poverty reduction, an effective and efficient administrative framework and also a safe and secure environment.
The minister inherited a city whose infrastructure was grossly overstretched and whose planning was eroded and by-passed, a capital that was “developing towards some level of chaos in terms of service delivery and traffic management.”
According to him, insecurity pervaded parts of the city, also contractors had already stopped work, laid off their staff and abandoned work. He 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.
At inception, the administration had funding issues, for 11 months, there were no releases for capital projects. To be able to develop critical infrastructure as part of the mandate, the minister requested for extension of the budget by three months so as to mobilise available contractors to site.
To provide effective services to the residents, he axed the entrenched land cabal in the Federal Capital Territory, and replaced land and other key directors with competent hands.
A lot of building plans are now being approved on time and failed applications receive feedback as soon as possible. To safeguard the environment and maintain peace, the minister met with members of the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders and insisted that herdsmen must move their cattle out of the Federal Capital City as there is no way such animals could co-habit with residents. He allocated over 33,000 hectares for grazing, thus putting an end to the long term problem.
The administration focused on upgrading the slums in Abuja through urban renewal programme and not through demolitions, where demolitions are needed for new roads and diseases control, the administration adopted best international practises.
Muhammadu Bello was quoted recently as saying that: “My focus is for us to make the city efficient by completing all ongoing projects. All stretches of roads from the airport to barracks will all be completed. And, I hope to strengthen the institutions, and complete the Abuja light rail project on time. That is the legacy I want to leave.”
Just like his namesake, President Muhammadu Buhari, FCT’s Muhammadu has his eyes strictly on anti-corruption crusade because he believes that when this ‘malady’ is removed from the polity, the real ‘change’ will be manifested in no time.
- Adeoshun wrote via [email protected]