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FCT :The journey so far

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As Nigeria mark 23 years of unbroken democratic governance since 1999, FAVOUR ISHEMBER in this report examined the journey of the Federal Capital Territory under the leadership of Malam Muhammad Musa Bello,so far, and pointed the way forward even as she x-ray the FCT and Insecurity in the nation’s capital

 

THE MUHAMMAD MUSA BELLO’S STYLE OF LEADERSHIP:

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari recently acknowledged the exemplary leadership qualities of the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, describing the Minister as a reformer and a man of integrity. The commendations were made on the occasion of the Minister’s 63rd birthday anniversary.

 

The President was pleased by the Minister’s efforts at institutional reforms, ensuring compliance and more decency in land allocations, which he noted was spurred and sustained by integrity. He therefore congratulated the Minister for providing visionary leadership for the city that hosts the seat of government, diplomatic missions, multilateral institutions, headquarters of businesses and hospitality homes.

 

These accolades for the FCT Minister, coming from the President himself, are indeed very remarkable. Residents of the FCT and other visitors to the nation’s capital in recent times, who have also been privileged to observe developments in the city would no doubt agree with the President’s kind words about the current FCT Minister.

 

This is so because what has been observed in the FCT since the Minister No. 17 came into office some six years ago are coordinated efforts by the ex- Banker and administrator to sustain the city’s upward trajectory in the areas of infrastructural and socio-economic development, in line with the visions of the city’s founding fathers.

 

Even in the face of dwindling resources, there are glaring facts that the Minister has succeeded in repositioning the FCT as a crucible in which business, political and economic ties have been forged and are still being forged.

 

For comparison, when the Minister was appointed into office in November of 2015, there was urgent need for the provision of infrastructure in order to complement the ever-increasing population of the FCT. There were also so many projects initiated over the years as part of the overall masterplan of the city which had not been completed and required attention.

 

The danger in all of these was that Abuja, being one of the fastest growing cities in Nigeria and indeed Africa, was on the verge of having its human population outstrip infrastructural developments. It was obvious that if the Administration did not complete the ongoing projects like major arterial roads within the city and to a large extent also in the Area Councils and satellite towns, the city would face very critical challenges, especially in the area of transportation and other socio-economic activities.

 

Faced with these challenges, the Minister elected to resist the temptation to embrace the attraction of high-sounding new projects which are soon abandoned. The Minister focused instead on the projects that would have the greatest impact to the largest number of people. Some of these include road projects, the ongoing rail projects and then the expansion of the water supply scheme that are designed to bring very significant benefits to the wider citizenry.

 

From the onset, the FCT Administration under Bello toed its part on abandoned or ongoing infrastructure projects and moved to complete them in order to redeem the huge cost sunk into most of these vital projects. Some of the critical road projects include the multi-lane ultra-modern Kubwa and the Yar’Adua Airport Express which were delivered with dispatch along with the completion of their pedestrian bridges and interchanges.

 

Similarly, the Minister awarded and completed the Aso Villa Roundabout Bridge capping the Outer Northern Express Road (ONEX) also known as the Kubwa – Zuba Express Road. The Bill Clinton Interchange connecting the Airport driveway was also delivered on record time.

 

 

Work on other major road projects like the Constitution and Independent Roads traversing the heart of Abuja’s Central Business District, the Southern Parkway, the Karshi-Wasa and the Nyanya-Karu road designed to create an alternate route to the city through the south eastern flank are also ongoing. Similarly, the dualization of Apo-Wasa road is also ongoing to effectively link up the Karshi-Wasa road to the city proper.

 

Other master strokes which have struck right notes on the Abuja chord are the construction of various loops, tangent and flank roads which hitherto locked up the city at major intersections. Their completions have freed the city from bottlenecks at these major road intersections. Today, the added values from the completion of these projects have improved the outlook of the city, energised the Abuja economy and made the city liveable.

 

Another area worthy of note is how Malam Bello was able to transform governance in the FCT. From the start, Malam Bello committed himself to strengthening institutions and ensuring compliance with due process, which would later earn the FCT the top spot in the anti-corruption and transparency scorecard of the ICPC.

 

The Minister was also able to run an inclusive government as evident in all his appointments. Right from the inner-chambers of governance, the Minister has striven to reflect the colourful ethnic configuration of the country. With recent appointment of Mandate Secretaries and political aides, the FCT Minister broadened the democratic space and has provided the needed corporate leadership for most of agencies and departments of government under the FCTA.

 

Education, in the FCT has also received the much-needed facelift with FCT schools receiving tremendous support from government in terms of provision of infrastructure and remuneration of teachers. It would be recalled that an FCT teacher recently emerged the overall best in the country in the secondary school category, which was attributed to the provision of relevant tools for learning as well as the enabling environment.

 

On health services, the Minister equally displayed exemplary leadership in the approach it adopted in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. At the peak of the pandemic, the Minister rallied the private sector and other individual donors to provide 1000-bed facilities, a feat that has continued to receive accolades. Palliatives were also provided for the most vulnerable groups in the FCT and the Area Councils during the periods of the lockdown and restriction of movement.

 

When the second phase of the pandemic also broke out, the Minister, in similar vein, also ensured that the isolation centres were piped with oxygens for use by patients in critical conditions. All of these helped to ensure that FCT was not overwhelmed by the pandemic, despite being an epicentre.

 

The Minister has also not allowed the experience gained in the fight against the pandemic to go to waste as health facilities have been set up to manage other diseases like cholera, Lassa fever among others. Hospitals and health centres have also been upgraded, including the establishment of a diagnostic laboratory by the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19 in the FCT.

 

Another area Bello has shown strength is in the revitalization of the land for infrastructure scheme, also known as the land swap programme, is also another demonstration that the Minister is indeed moving towards achieving the development priorities already set by his predecessors. Not only has the FCTA under Bello been able to restructure and fine-tune the land swap agreements for the construction of new Districts, it has also reached agreement with a group known as Gwagwa Concession for the development of the Gwagwa District through the land swap model which will save the government huge cost on infrastructure development.

 

Staff empowerment, training and promotion: just recently, the Bello led FCT Administration in a bid to deepen its merit based approach in the appointment of Directors as well as ensure staff enjoy upward career progression , abou 649 Deputy Directors, drawn from all the Secretariats, Department and Agencies of the Federal Capital Territory Administration are currently undergoing a 5-day refresher course at the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN), Kubwa-Abuja.

 

The refresher course which is oganised by the Administration to adequately prepare officers who are due for promotion, is in line with the administration commitment to prevent stagnation of officers.

 

the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mr. Olusade Adesola while addressing

participants during the opening ceremony of the exercise said the programme marks a defining moment in the management of career of very senior officers of the FCT Administration, as it relates to system-wide application of merit based approach for appointment of officers to positions on GL17.

 

Adesola called on officers to see the exercise as a positive change and the commencement of a major paradigm shift in career progression management approach of the FCT Administrative system.

 

“Highly esteemed participants, as you are aware, change is inevitable, because life is fluid and dynamic, ever evolving, and the more dynamic you are, the more positive happenings in your life. To borrow the words of Susan Peabody, one of the most prolific American writers, ‘Change is…. the inevitable cycle of life. Without change, there is no life.’

 

“Today, therefore marks the beginning of a major transition progression management approach. As an Administration, we are poised to develop the structures and enabling environment for all our workforce to attain their dream career heights, he explained”

 

The Permanent Secretary also used the occasion to disclose that the Administration has upgraded the position of Principal in some of the FCT Schools to that of a Director, as well as creating new Departments, all in a bid to prevent stagnation of officers, due to limited vacancies.

 

He said: “In the Education Secretariat, we upgraded the position of a Principal in some of the Schools to that of a Director, in order to create more vacancies. We are also introducing new Departments, all in a bid to support our career management efforts driven by need.”

Justifying the choice of Public Service Institute of Nigeria as the Training Institute to conduct the forthcoming 2022 Deputy Directors promotion examination

 

He explained that the decision is borne out of the need to promote merit, transparency and also allay any fear of favouritism in the course of the exercise.

He said: “At this juncture it is imperative to bring to your attention that in view of the importance the Administration places on this exercise, the need to promote merit, transparency, as well as allay any fear of favouritism, the Honourable Minister of FCT,Malam Muhammad Musa Bello approved that this pioneer programme be conducted by the Public Service Institute of Nigeria(PSIN),a leading Government Training Institute in Nigeria, headed by a seasoned bureaucrat and a man of impeccable character, Dr. Abdul Ganiyu Obatoyinbo.”

 

However, the stewardship of the current FCT Minister, has not been without some strong security challenges which has poised a threat to the development and national peace.

 

The essence of any good government is to work side by side with its citizens to provide a conducive environment for the citizens to realize their dreams and goals, making available at least the basic necessities of life – water, shelter, electricity, health care and food at affordable prices, as well as protect lives and properties and provide a peaceful atmosphere,” Oba noted.

 

The best definition of democracy is government by the people and for the people, going by this fact it shows that people are allowed to score their representatives in all political positions on how well they had performed and if they truly deserve another chance, based on successes recorded to uplifting lives and the society, what impact they had made so far in improving lives and communities

 

There is no doubt that certain happenings in our country and in particular the federal capital city can begin to raise doubts in the minds of younger ones and youths, who did not witness the era of dictatorship, about the suitability of democracy as the most preferred system of government.

 

One of those happenings is the challenge posed by insecurity.

The challenges of Kidnapping, banditry and terrorism in Abuja has a great negative effect on the development of the Federal Capital Territory and Nigeria as a whole.

 

The attacks carried out by armed bandit in some satellites towns and suburbs have been another great major challenge of insecurity facing the Territory.

 

Many lives and properties have been lost and a large number of residents kidnapped, businesses are being crumbled, Families have lost their loved ones, many women are now widows, Children becoming orphans with no hope of what the future holds for them.

 

Right in the in the highbrow Maitama district of Abuja, an ugly and heartbreaking incident occurred early this year, a missing NYSC member, Stephanie Terungwa, was found dead

 

The corpse found wearing the NYSC khaki trouser with the face defaced beyond recognition was confirmed by the police as that of a missing corps member deployed to the nation’s capital, Stephanie Se-Ember Terungwa.

 

The NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, also confirmed the incident in a press statement entitled, ‘Re: Missing Body.’

 

Terungwa, a graduate of Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, went missing April 14 after she left home fully dressed in her NYSC uniform. Unfortunately, she did not return alive.

 

Her death is still being treated as “unexplained.” However, sources at the NYSC headquarters believe that at this stage, there was a third-party involvement.

 

The NYSC statement read: “The attention of NYSC management has been drawn to the pictures making the rounds in the social media of a missing corps member deployed to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

 

“The corpse was found wearing the NYSC khaki trouser with the face defaced beyond recognition.

 

“On account of this, management reported the discovery to relevant security agencies to help identify the body. It was later confirmed that the remains were that of a missing corps member, Stephanie Se-Ember Terungwa, with State Code Number FC/21B/5807.

 

“Investigations are, however, currently ongoing to unravel the identity of the perpetrators of the dastardly act to bring them to justice.” And up until now, there has been no clue of who must have committed the abominable act.

More worrisome is the fact that things like this could happen in the very city Center of Abuja, the seat of power.

 

 

Apart from that, Kuje, Tunga Maje, Kwali and Abaji are other areas that have been constantly attacks by kidnappers. Late some time last year, gunmen abducted two sons of the Chief Imam of Abaji central mosque and one other person. The sons of the chief Imam were kidnapped with another resident in the area. Sadly these areas are outskirts of towns that lead into the main city, where security is poor, and residents lack basic amenities which give kidnappers the leeway to carry out their activities. This may not come as a surprise as these security concerns are coming on the heels of a recent security alert of insurgents invading forests in the rural communities of the FCT.

 

Regrettable, despite these concerns, warnings and several complaints by affected residents of the city to the FCT authorities, there seem not to be much action to provide the people the desired succour.

 

In Tunga Maje, a suburb in Gwagwalada which is about 33 km from the city centre, 11 people were said to have been kidnapped in September 2020. FCT Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu, who condemned the abductions expressed regret that cases of kidnapping had become rampant, especially in Kuje area council of the territory.

 

It is quite disheartening that abductors storm targeted communities within the FCT to carry out their dastardly acts by shooting sporadically into the air and whisk their victims away without any hindrance.

 

Migration to the city has no doubt fuelled the incessant kidnappings that is being witnessed today but security agents seem to have been overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of the criminals. Even worse is the pervasive despondency among the security agencies due, largely, to insufficient mobilisation, inadequate logistics and glaringly low morale. In this situation, the tendency is for the residents to develop the feeling that they have been abandoned.

 

We understand the fact that the use of technology and high calibre equipment by security agents are of utmost importance now. Kidnappers should be wiped out as a matter of urgency. Their hideouts must be located and destroyed. Security agents should take proactive steps, go after the bandits and kidnappers in their various hideouts instead of waiting going for a counter action. FCT must remain the decent and peaceful city it was created to be and the security agencies must be firm and resolute in their quest to restore peace and Sanity in the capital city of Nigeria

 

Specking with Hon.Kuraun Lube, a 2019 Governorship Candidate of JMPP BENUE State , who also doubles as the National Coordinator, Citizens Forum For Public Policy Research and Advocacy (CIFFPPRA) Said it is no longer news that the Federal Capital Territory is facing more security challenges. One will that the social media is being fed with a lot of information on a daily basis which spurs a lot of unhealthy comments and reactions about the Government and public leaders. It has become practically rare for the common man to appreciate the efforts of the Government and those in authority at different levels of leadership.

 

The protection of the people or any society does not wholely rely on Government. It is also the responsibility of the inhabitants of any region to be detective, and have a sense of security consciousness in ensuring that the bad eggs are always exposed and made to dance to the rhythm of the gravity of their detriments.

 

_”Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” are among the first words in the Charter of the United Nations (in its preamble)._

 

The duty of any Government is to ensure maximum protection of lives and property. It is worthy of mention that the Government is not silent as people usually think. It is important we all be optimistic owing to the fact that the Government also acknowledges the security challenges in the FCT, and is on a mission to ensuring the restoration of peace in the various regions across the capital as well as enforcement of law and order for the common good of the inhabitants.

 

However, it will be very difficult for the security operatives to defend the people without their due cooperation. This could be achieved by supporting the security operatives with necessary information to aide their investigations and subsequent actions in restoring peace and order in the federal capital.

 

Moreso, for the sake of humanity, it is necessary for all inhabitants to see everyone as a treasure, understand their mode of life and level of tolerance in order to keep peace afloat. *Mark Gough* once said, _”Human security depends on a system where each rational individual calculates that it is more profitable not to rebel.”_

 

It is important we use our media platforms to preach peace, and not as a tool for tearing ourselves apart.

 

This is a clarion call for everyone to be on the look out to ensuring quick exposure of any suspicious movement or action that threatens the lives of the people.

 

In as much as the pressure is always on the government, it is also important to understand that the government is a body built on law, and saddled with the responsibility of operating in accordance with the law, and will continue in that respect in the course of tackling the insecurities in the capital, but will always not hesitate in fast response.

 

The moment we realize we are one people, living in the same country, in the same regional settlements, and the life of the least person among the least also matters, the faster we drive insecurity beyond our boundaries, and continue to live in peace and harmony as one people.

 

Our great nation will thrive if we choose to thrive, first in our human relationships irrespective of our differences.

 

 

This report cannot be complete without mentioning the vital role the Bello led FCT Administration played in securing the nation’s capital and seat of the Federal Government against the activities of kidnappers and other criminals. It would be recalled that the FCT sometimes last year experienced heightened kidnapping activities which available security intelligence revealed was politically motivated to destabilize the country. The coordinated attacks, it was learnt, were aimed at striking at the heart of the FCT for maximum damage

 

But the FCT Administration, in collaboration with the FCT security Committee, comprising all the security agencies in the FCT, moved very swiftly to foil the activities of the kidnapping syndicate and in the end, a network of kidnappers operating from neighbouring States and the fringes of the FCT was cracked while the masterminds were apprehended. Their victims who were kidnapped in the University of Abuja and other areas were also freed without the loss of lives. Other planned attacks were also foiled and nipped in the bud.

 

Apart from the challenge posed by insecurity, the present FCT Minister has continued to roll the Abuja projects despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling resources.

 

 

developments have been sustained thus far despite the economic situation in recent time which account as a huge credit to the prudent management of resources and leadership acumen of the present FCT Minister, with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari and the FCT residents.

 

 

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