The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja is an elite city where all eyes are on the government of the day to do the needful. The residents, who are more or less living in their own World, want social amenities to be working with the precision of the Swiss clock, sometimes without playing their own part.
Abuja, the nation’s capital city came into being in 1976 and seems to be the only city created by law in Nigeria.
The major headache for almost all the Federal Capital Territory Administrations (FCTA) since inception is the lawlessness of some residents who expect miracle from the government without fulfilling their own part of the bargain by obeying appropriate laws governing the Territory. Even ordinary traffic lights that are expected to address traffic chaos and well being of the motoring public, seem to be very difficult to be obeyed by some of them.
The running of modern municipal city calls for closer collaboration of all stakeholders, who are expected to fully participate in all government policies and programmes. There are a lot of postulations, particularly pessimists on the capacity of the present crop of leadership in the Territory to transform Abuja into a World-class city.
The current leadership under Malam Muhammad Musa Bello and the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye is a good combination that can effectively lubricate the wheel of good governance in Abuja, going by their antecedents and the will power exhibited since coming on board.
Malam Bello is a complete gentleman by all standards, who has been well tested in a more difficult terrain. He was rated as not just an achiever who had in hiss past assignments, brought sanity to bear but achieved all set targets, especially at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
At the NAHCON, he was able to turn around the hitherto chaotic annual Hajj, which at a point became a huge embarrassment to the country, especially in the diplomatic circle. It is on record that Nigerian pilgrims used to sleep sometimes in the Holy land for several extra days or weeks or months, a situation that generated unprecedented embarrassing demonstrations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
His coming as the Chairman of the NAHCON rolled over those embarrassing moments, a development that led to the introduction of a new chapter in the history of Hajj Administration in Nigeria and has remained a reference point in probity and accountability. The knotty issues of provision of accommodation, licensing of airlines, transportation in the holy land and other sundry activities were all ironed out and now are stress-free.
As a technocrat per excellence, no one should be in doubt that Abuja is in for a better deal, but the approach will surely not be what the Abuja residents are used to, this is because he has always emphasized the need to follow due process and extant rules in all the Administration’s dealings.
Some residents are used to see Task Forces chasing beggars, hawkers and miscreants on the streets of Abuja which seemed not achieve much. After chasing them off the streets, these miscreants and hawkers always found their ways back when the activities of the Task Forces die down. But the Bello Administration has a blueprint of sensitizing the people engaged in the menace and why they should be off the streets of Abuja.
On environmental sanitation, the Minister and the Permanent Secretary, before the launch of the Household and Community Sanitation Campaign in all the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, brought in the Federal Ministry of Environment as a critical stakeholder to partner with the FCT Administration on environmental cleanliness.
The campaign was taken to the doorsteps of all the residents of the FCT, including those in the Area Councils and remote Satellitectowns to enable them key into it. The FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, went further to partner with the media, particularly the broadcast media organizations to assist the FCTA in sensitizing the residents with catchy phrases like “Have you cleaned your environment this morning?”
In that meeting with the top broadcast media managers in his office recently, Dr. Ajakaiye said: “our aim today is to kick-start another phase of the campaign which is intensive sensitization and mobilization to reach individual medium to disseminate information to the residents of the FCT on sanitation, engage them in conversation and touch their minds on the need to change from living in a filth-ridden environment into a clean and green one.”
In order to ensure that the message achieves its intended purpose, the Permanent Secretary urged the media to make the campaign part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
A critical appraisal of the Abuja city toady reveals that the present FCT Administration has ensured that several major contractors were mobilized back to sites. A visit to Karshi – Apo road would gladden one’s heart as work has gotten to advanced stage. The street lights, road shoulders as well as the deadly road leading to popular Utako Motor Park have been tarred at no cost to the government.
In the area of garbage collection by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, the Permanent Secretary recently visited the Board headquarters with firm instructions to conduct a security check on all the 27 cleaning contractors in order to strengthen their capacity in refuse collection in and around the capital city. This has prompted the removal of the AEPB Director, all the Departmental and Unit heads of the organization recently.
The FCT Administration runs two line budgets that include the National Priority and the FCT Statutory. The former deals only with few national projects like infrastructure development as the Statutory handles about 90 percent of its expenditure. Today, the national priority has already been signed into law and President Muhammadu Buhari early this week, urged the National Assembly to help pass the statutory budget. Once the later is ready, Nigerians should expect massive and unprecedented development, because it takes care of staff salaries, some major projects and municipal services.
It is therefore instructive for Abuja residents and other stakeholders in the Abuja project to note that the present leadership in the FCT under a diligent and an astute administrator, Muhammad Musa Bello and with the support of a thorough bred bureaucrat, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, the World would soon witness a coordinated, unprecedented infrastructural and social development in the FCT. This is so, because the gentlemen are poised and can surely tackle the ills of Abuja.
Muhammad Hazat Sule, Deputy Director / Chief Press Secretary, FCT wrote from Abuja. [myad]