BY: MUHAMMAD HAZAT SULE
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello took over the mantle of leadership of the Federal Capital Territory on Wednesday 11th November 2015 with a promise to build on his predecessors’ achievements.
The Minister who was received by the equally new FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, on arrival met briefly with some Directors and senior officials of the FCT Administration.
At the occasion, the Minister paid tribute to former FCT Ministers and commended the staff of the Administration for the way they have worked very hard to build a modern city from the scratch.
Mallam Bello advised the staff to rededicate themselves to duty and warned that all heads of Secretariats, Departments and Agencies (SDAs) under the FCT Administration must work towards blocking all leakages in order to improve available funds for the development of the Federal Capital Territory.
After meeting with the staff, the next set of people the Minister met was the FCT Press Corps, from whom he solicited for continuous support in the onerous task of moving Abuja to greater heights by implementing the Change Agenda of the Federal Government as it concerns the Federal Capital Territory. To demonstrate his determination to carry the media along, he promptly appointed his Media Assistant from amongst the FCT Press Corps.
After meeting with the various groups, it was time for the Minister to hit the ground running by taking briefs from Mandate Secretariats, Departments and Agencies, as well as meeting with stakeholders in the Abuja project, including the members of the FCT Council of Chiefs.
He followed this up with visits to several project sites, particularly those that have immediate and direct bearing on the lives of FCT residents. Some of the projects visited include the Abuja Light Rail and the knotty Karshi – Apo – Arah road.
His prompt visit to the two famous projects was to show the importance of the projects to the smooth movement of motorists in and around FCT. The Minister equally toured the city at night to ascertain the functionality of streetlights in the capital city, following which, he charged the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) to fix all broken lights as quickly as possible. Though, he didn’t seem too happy with some of the reasons given for the non-functioning of streetlights as he charged the officials to be proactive in tackling the challenges.
“Quite frankly, the city is very dark. The city was much brighter than this in the past; instead of improvement, it appears we are going backwards and this is certainly not acceptable. Keeping the city bright enhances its beauty, eases the job of the security agencies in securing it and also makes it easier for the residents to come out in the night without any fear of being attacked,” he said.
As he toured facilities and project sites, the Minister inspected the on-going Abuja Rail Mass Transit and promised that his Administration would work assiduously to make the Abuja rail system operational in the last quarter of 2017.
More importantly, the Minister declared war on filth and paid unscheduled visit to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to signal the commencement of the war on filth (WOF) that must be won.
At the AEPB, Malam Bello admonished the staff to be up and doing in the discharge of their duties, warning that a new vista must be opened to clean up Abuja. During the visit, he vowed to recover the N10.5 billion owed the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) over the years.
Malam Bello’s coming equally brought to the front burner, the need to comply strictly with all applicable laws of the FCTA. As a new order in his Administration, these extant rules in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities must now be a guide for all official action. “The laws are supposed to guide you and they shouldn’t be flouted; effective application of extant rules and regulations and publication of same to the public would ease your work. Abuja is the ultimate city in Nigeria and a model for Africa and we cannot afford to negate it,” the Minister noted.
He was also at the National Assembly severally. Expressing at every given opportunity, the commitment of his Administration to partner with the lawmakers to make Abuja a much better city.
This new order in administering the affairs of the 40_Year old city, also caught up with some Aides of the Minister as well as other staff of the Administration, when the man whom is often refers to as quiet but no nonsense ‘Oga’, directed that henceforth, all staff of the FCT Administration should wear their Personal Identification Cards, (ID cards) within the office premises for easy identification. Malam Bello is of the view that wearing of ID Card will help improve security by promptly differentiating staff from other visitors. He, thus, directed that touts around the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) be sent away immediately.
On staff welfare, Malam Bello, after one of the FCT Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meetings also directed the Chairmen of the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory to use their federal allocation, which was just released, to immediately clear the October salaries owed staff.
To instill discipline and professionalism, the Minister, during one of the visits by the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, called on all professionals operating in the Federal Capital Territory to make it a duty to always adhere to their sworn professional ethics in the discharge of their duties. He also enjoined staff of the Administration to change their attitude towards service delivery in line with the change mantra of the Federal Government.
On security, the Minister assured of his Administration’s commitment to continue to support the Security Agencies in the Federal Capital Territory to make Abuja safer and announced his intention to resuscitate the G-7 Security Summit which is a group of the contiguous states with the FCT.
Fulfilling his heart desire to ensure uninterrupted supply of potable water across homes in the Abuja, the Minister was at various time at FCT Water Board facilities including the Lower Usuma Dam where he further assured that his Administration would work diligently to improve supply of clean water to the entire residents of the Federal Capital City in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s led Federal Government.
Coming to the FCT with a vast knowledge of Hajj Operation, Malam Bello instructed that all intending pilgrims who registered first with the FCT Pilgrims Welfare Board for the 2016 Muslim Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia be first considered for slot allocation. This no doubt has brought fair play and transparency to bear in the religious obligation.
To make health services more accessible to the residents of the Territory, especially for those at the rural areas, the Minister ordered the management of the FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat to immediately commence medical services to patients at the Zuba Cottage Hospital which was completed over 5 years ago.
In order to prevent the spread of Lassa Fever, he personally led a campaign against the disease and directed the release of some useful tips on how to effectively prevent the spread of the disease, which has unfortunately claimed the live of its carrier, who was in Abuja on a visit.
He insisted that the proactive step became necessary in order to curtail the unfortunate incident, which led to the death of the victim thereby saving the Territory from any health epidemic.
Sequel to the earlier tips given on how to prevent the spread of Lassa fever in the Territory, the Minister also directed the medical and health workers under the services of the FCT Administration to remain on red alert to nip in the bud any suspected case.
During the just concluded continuous voter registration (CRV) exercise for the forthcoming FCT Area Councils’ elections, the Minister facilitated aggressive sensitization and mobilization, by calling on the residents of the Federal Capital Territory to come out en-masse to participate.
So far, he has given due attention to the development of the six Area Councils, and the Satellite Towns in order to decongest the Federal Capital City. He has moved the Satellite Towns Development Department (STDD) to Karshi to bring it closer to the rural people the department is meant to serve.
Malam Bello also took a bold step by visiting the Apo-Karshi-Arah Road where he made commitment to complete the road by promising to immediately pay the contractor a pending job certificate of N324 million.
Determined to ensure sanity in the Abuja Land Administration system, the unassuming Bello has put machinery in motion to sanitize allocation of land in the Federal Capital Territory, reiterating that the process must be done through the FCT Land Use and Allocation Committee. He revealed that henceforth, the FCT Administration would only allocate plots of land in the Abuja industrial zones to genuine manufacturers that have capacity to develop them for the purpose they are earmarked for and must be within a time frame.
On the problematic issue of commercial motorcycles (Okada) and tricycles (Keke Napep), the FCT Administration under him has carried out extensive sensitization, reminding residents that the means of transportation remain banned from operating within the 250 square kilometers of the Federal Capital City, Abuja; while the Keke Napep restricted to some areas.
In order to make life more bearable for the motoring public in the Federal Capital City, the Minister partially opened the Inner Southern Expressway (ISEX) otherwise known as Goodluck Jonathan Expressway, in the Central Business District, Abuja.
To bring the issue of personal hygiene and environmental nuisances to the fore, he introduced the FCT Household and Community Sanitation Exercise in the Area Councils and Satellite Towns of the Federal Capital Territory.
At the moment, the war against filth in the FCT appears to be enjoying the lion share of attention. Malam Bello believes that Abuja’s unique position as the nation’s Federal Capital remains the major gateway into the country as such the issue of keeping the city neat at all times cannot be over emphasized. Thus the FCT Clean-up exercise, he says, is not only a sanitation exercise, but also a re-orientation effort in line with the Change Agenda of the Federal Government.
The Minister canvasses return of community efforts in ensuring clean environment, which he acknowledges has almost disappeared in our society. He says people now look up to Government to clean their environment for them, thereby neglecting household and communal efforts in cleaning, which often has led to spread of diseases such as Lassa fever. So far, he has flagged off the sanitation exercise in Kuje, Kwali, Abaji, Gwagwalada and Bwari with the grand finale scheduled for the Abuja Municipal Area Councils.
To further drive the policy, he promised to award a prize to the cleanest Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory by the end of the year, revealing that the award would be presented to the winner by President Muhammadu Buhari for a befitting golden prize.
Furthermore, the Minister has re-engineered various service delivery departments in proper synergy so as to effectively maintain existing infrastructure and provide quality services to residents of the Federal Capital Territory. And this is already working because the greening of Abuja is gradually returning despite the dry season.
From the foregoing, no one should be in doubt as to the determination of the present crop of leadership in the FCT led by Malam Muhammad Musa Bello and ably supported by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, to ensure better and meaningful life for residents. With the Minister enjoining the directors to work in synergy, one is sure that the Federal Capital Territory would witness improved infrastructural development and quality service delivery, thereby giving the residents a good deal.
MUHAMMAD HAZAT SULE IS A DEPUTY DIRECTOR & CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY