Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has suggested to the Senate, the inclusion of FCT Infrastructure Development Fund (FCT-IDF) in the Nigeria constitution, now being reviewed for amendment.
The minister, in a goodwill message to the National Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution taking place in Abuja, said that such body would ensure adequate funding of infrastructure in the FCT.
Muhammad Musa Bello said: “We propose that a definitive constitutional provision be made to ensure adequate and unhindered funding of the FCT through the creation of an FCT Infrastructure Development Fund, OR through a 1st line charge on the funds of the Federation or some other acceptable arrangement.”
The Minister explained that this is essential considering the fact that Abuja is home to an ever increasing number of Nigerians who have made the Territory their homes.
Of the 196 districts that make up the FCT, Malam Bello revealed that only 10 districts have been fully developed with infrastructure, 12 districts partially developed with 70 districts within the Federal Capital City undeveloped.”
According to him, with the rate of population growth, without a robust and well-structured funding arrangement for the provision of and maintenance of infrastructure, the FCT might ultimately be birthing an urban slum.
Muhammad Musa Bello advised that submissions seeking amendments to the 1999 constitution should be guided by the principles of national unity, patriotism and peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians.
He called on Nigerians to seize the opportunity provided by the exercise to strengthen national bond and cohesion. In the words of the Minister, “the Strength of our country lies in the diversity and dynamism of her people. We should seize the opportunity provided by this exercise to strengthen our common bond as a people and guarantee the growth and development of our country”.
The Minister prayed for amendments to certain sections of the constitution which will seek to bring governance closer to the people an also guarantee funding for the development of the FCT.
While seeking amendment to SECTION 7 of the constitution, the Minister proposed the inclusion of a new sub section immediately after Section 7(5) to read as follows: A: (6) The functions to be conferred by law upon the Area Councils may include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Constitution and, where so conferred, shall be performed outside the Federal Capital City (FCC) and such areas as may be designated from time to time by the Minister in charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
The justification for this, according to the Minister, is that “Section 7 (5) as presently constituted gives room for duplicity of roles, conflicts and mismatches in planning, provision of infrastructure and service delivery in the Federal Capital Territory.
The proposed amendment, the Minister explained is aimed at addressing the aforementioned problems and achieving harmony between the FCTA and the Area Councils. The Area Councils, he continued are entitled to their Constitutional mandates. However, they should do that outside the Federal Capital City (FCC) and, as a matter of expediency, collaborate with the FCT Administration, to ensure harmony in the development of infrastructure and provision of amenities.
The Minister added is necessary because the Federal Capital Territory is a planned modern project with a centralized planning system, cohesive infrastructural coordinates and interconnected engineering designs.
In proposing amendments to section 301 of the Constitution, the Minister submitted that Section 301(c) to read: “References to persons, offices and authorities of a State were references to the persons, offices, and authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration with like status, designations, and powers, respectively”.
“This current provision does not give full effect to Section 299 of the Constitution and as such requires an amendment that will effectively empower the Federal Capital Territory functionaries to discharge their statutory responsibilities including, but not limited to those specified by Presidential Order No. 1 of 2004.
“The proposed amendment will enable the Federal Capital Territory functionaries to assume the statutory roles assigned to certain Government functionaries under the Federal Capital Territory applicable laws as contained in the Schedule of the Federal Capital Territory Act.”