This mendacity against FCTA must stop

Yusuf Ibrahim

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, contrary to some people’s speculation had gained prominence in the Senate before the debate on the ill health of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and this had to do with his principled stance of not defecting from the ANPP with Governor Yuguda at that point, until it became expedient for him to do so.
In a sane society the statement credited to the FCT minister that he was misled by his directors based on the non-disclosure of the true picture about the environmental pestilence and degradation in the form of a resurged street hawking, beggars, Okada riders and general untidiness, should have been greeted by commendations rather than ridiculous and uncouth condemnation as exhibited by mendacious individuals.

The minister never said FCT was bereft of challenges, indeed he has always said the challenges of managing a city constantly bugged by unimaginable influx of people from all over Nigeria were enormous. Perhaps the challenges are true of some states as well. What roused the minister is the simple fact that his directors failed to brief him on the enormity of the challenge for proper planning, solution proffering and execution of an actionable plan designed to solve/eradicate the problems even when he challenged such postulations.

The new policy of ridding Abuja of beggars, hawkers, etc, is well conceived; the formation of a committee under the chairmanship of Commissioner of Police Mbu Joseph Mbu has given the special Task Force the much needed bite to rid Abuja of the specified filth and pestilence related to the degradation of the environment.

Some people believe the minister’s action was only against hawkers, beggars, etc; this is the vilest allegation that I have heard against Bala Mohammed. The action for eradicating environmental degradation cuts across all strata of individuals disregarding their status. The exercise cuts across all districts in the territory, and huge successes are being recorded by the task force.

It is rather strange for one writer (perhaps who has not journeyed recently on that road) to claim that despite the billions of naira budgeted for the Umar Yar’Adua Expressway that connects from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Road (Bill Clinton Drive) and traverses the city to Aso Villa, this road is yet to be completed. But the ONEX (Nyanya-Kubwa-Zuba Expressway) has been duly completed, this just goes to show that the scope of work on the Yar’Adua Expressway is more tasking; I was part of those that undertook the Good Governance Tour, and the OSEX (Yar’Adua Expressway) was part of the project we visited and I must say that at various components of the road construction, there was an average of 90 percent completion. Basically, the ten lane expansion of the Yar’Adua Expressway will be completed on schedule.

Some of these mendacious writers even claimed that Bala Mohammed’s administration is notorious for slow completion of abandoned projects. Based on this farce, can anyone tell me who completed (before the December 2013 deadline), the recently commissioned phases 3 and 4 of the Lower Usuma Dam Water Treatment Plants? The project was commissioned in 2005 and abandoned before the present FCT minister revived and completed it.
On the thorny issue of pedestrian bridges in the FCT, it is solely a project of the Ministry of Works which had enjoined the Road Sector Development Team, RSDT, the unit overseeing the Federal Roads Development Project of the World Bank to deliver the project within the scheduled six months’ time frame.

The RSDT has claimed that contractors and other factors are responsible for the delay in completion of the bridges. Its Unit Manager said some of the contractors are deficient and not competent enough to handle the projects, and that some defects were noticed during the inspection hence work was stopped.

The FCT Administration was never in charge of the project, they only paid for the designs and supervision of the six pedestrian bridges while the World Bank paid for the construction. On Utako Motor Park, FCTA plans to privatiseit due to its state of disrepair. A Turkish consortium was awarded the contract at $100 million.

The park and pay is a worldwide service, people will have to pay for parking, especially in Nigerian city centres. This policy is not for revenue collection but to maintain infrastructure in the City Centre. The idea is that in addition to ending the traffic congestion on the streets of Abuja, it will also create employment and some level of security for vehicles in the capital city.

Ibrahim wrote from No 3, Jibrin Bala Street, Suleja, Niger state

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