The recent call by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Bello, on residents of the territory to take ownership of the Abuja projects is apt and the need can never be overemphasised.A sense of ownership is defined for the sake of this write up as a concept to assess whose voice is heard, who has influence over decisions to be taken and those affected by the process or outcome. The minister’s call for the application of the concept of ownership is to determine how the strategic interests and actions of individuals or organisations contribute to the Abuja development efforts. In addition, the minister emphasised that this is the time that the people should wake up from their slumber and take true ownership of the many projects sited in their domain to make them workable and sustainable.
Through this concept, the amiable minister of the FCT has deliberately emphasised and acknowledged to the public that now that the government is playing its parts through the provision of infrastructural projects and incentives to the people, the people themselves, through the concept of citizen participation and responsibilities, have a major role to play. The people must, as a matter of responsibility, take ownership of these projects and with that entrenched, our nation’s capital city will begin to work. The minister must be commended for this call because over the last four years of his being appointed as the minister overseeing the Federal Capital Territory, he has worked on and implemented an initiative which has incorporated the regular, systematic feedback of citizens into the design and execution of government’s projects in Abuja. He is on record to be the initiator of the concept of participatory rural appraisal, which approach is to put the people first.
This introduced concept of the minister in administering the territory has without doubt been an inspiration to many of the residents who have joyfully keyed into the citizens’ ownership of Abuja projects initiative and this has made Abuja worked.
Something very important has changed undeniably in the administration of the FCT because there has been an increasing demand by the citizens and indeed civil society groups for a greater say in public decision making because of the desire by the Mallam Mohammed Bello administration to be more inclusive and responsive to the people’s need.
Indeed, these changes have positively improved the line of communication between his government and the led to unprecedented level. This new approach and unprecedented opportunities to directly engage policy makers at all levels provided by the minister to the people have helped to develop the potential by government to closing the feedback loop between the citizens and the government.
It is on record that since he came into office as the minister, Mallam Mohammad Bello has recommended for the Abuja resident the need for them to take ownership of his government’s projects as they were executed to better their lots. Citizen engagement has indeed become a strategic priority of the minister. His goal is to move the citizen engagement priority forward, a feat he has already achieved.
Civic values are actually valuable to citizens taking ownership of government’s projects at our disposal. The minister knows the importance of the symbiotic relationship between the citizens and the government. We have all the responsibility of protecting government’s assets and projects anywhere they may be. In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the scope of being called upon to come and account for once action.
The minister recognises that now it is most frequently described as an account given relationship between the government and the led.
The minister has always known and acknowledged that in this era of change, political accountability is the watch word. He has always emphasised that when the people reward you or sanction any politician when he makes choices on behalf of the people, then political accountability has taken place.
Today in the FCT, the minister has through reminding the residents of the need to take ownership of projects in their domain, deliberately called for the people to also be accountable for the numerous projects sited in their localities in order to attract more. The era when projects and infrastructure sited in the domain or localities of residents are vandalised and left to delapidate by the residents is over. The minister shall not hesitate to sanction the siting of projects in such areas as the case may be.
This administration in the FCT. led by Mohammad Bello is willing to do more in the area of project initiation and implementation to areas and communities that take upon themselves the citizens’ obligation of taking ownership of projects cited in their domain. The call by the minister is therefore timely and valid.
Musawa writes from Abuja