Other sides of land swap

Bala-mohammedAWAAL GATA writes on the importance of FCTA’s land swap, which many say is ‘dubious’

Land is one of the most priced resources one can own in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It has the capabilities of turning one from zilch into a multimillionaire overnight.
However, a lot of corruption has been discovered in its transactions. Stories are being told of how people that ‘are connected’ at the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) or Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) dubiously acquire land for a meagre sum of N200,000 and resell same for over N20 million.
The FCTA has however said the above scenario would soon be a thing of the past with the land swap policy, introduced by the Senator Bala Mohammed administration.

According to the minister, the new policy is to ensure speedy provision of basic engineering infrastructure in Abuja as investors would be given land with a condition to provide infrastructure in the area where the land is sited.
He said it was high time the administration begun to use its land as resource for infrastructure development, explaining that the new policy which is tagged “Phase IV Transformation Agenda Project” is a real property development framework in which the FCTA is collaborating with the private sector to deliver qualitative houses with primary infrastructure in identified greenfield districts in line with the government’s transformation agenda.

According to him, the FCTA, through the Land Use Act, would grant land to investors for real property development and in exchange, the investor would provide specified infrastructure in the affected district.
He also disclosed that a framework had already been developed to ensure effective delivery of the project within the transformation period and to avoid any land speculation, land freezing and distortion of the Abuja Master Plan.

An official at the FCTA told Blueprint on a condition of anonymity that: “Government just builds or develops infrastructure in a virgin land and allocates the land to private Nigerians for very small amount of money compared to the amount of money invested in infrastructure. Now, there is a lot of conflicting demands for funds from the federal government to the extent that Abuja has expanded greatly and money being allocated by federal allocation can no longer sustain the infrastructural development of Abuja. That is why you have so many houses developed inside the bush without infrastructure.”

He added that: “For example only phase one in Abuja is completed but in phase 2, out of 14 districts and four sector centres which are commercial areas, only parts of Gudu, Jabi, Utako and Kado have been developed. Others are still as they were but because of population explosion people cannot wait for infrastructure to be put in place which is totally wrong. So you now have super structures in places such as Mabushi, Katampe, Jahi and Durumi where there is no infrastructure. Most of the plots there have been developed but there is no infrastructure. If you go to phase 3, the planning has been completed, plots have been allocated and people are building houses without supporting infrastructure and government is not getting enough revenue back from the allottees of these plots”.

On the fears being expressed by the FCT native that they would be short-changed under the policy he attributed it to lack of adequate information, saying, “it is because they have not been adequately educated. They have not been properly enlightened and because of that, they think that government wants to take the land from them and give to somebody else. Payment of compensation is part of the things the investors would do. When it gets to resettlement, the investors must contribute for the total resettlement of the people. Because government started it last year but wanted to execute it immediately, there has not been enough time for adequate enlightenment.”

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