By Ibrahim Biu
A casual look at the events that shaped the activities of Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) as 2014 winds-up would reveal interesting scenario where there is a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The FCTA administration has attracted a lot of investments and made a good stride in the provision of critical infrastructures for the development of Abuja. This was not without the activities of insurgents that showed its ugly face at the Nyanya and Emab Plaza.
Amidst such dastardly acts have been a lot of achievements. In keeping with its promise and mandate, the Bala Mohammed –led FCTA has taken bold steps to deliver dividends of democracy to FCT residents.
Apart from the celebrated land-swap system or mass housing, officials of the FCTA are now collaborating with the World Bank to finance and empower poor residents of the FCT, especially those living in the rural areas to be self-employed.
Many people–oriented projects have been executed. They include among others, the on-going rehabilitation and reconstruction of urban and rural roads, building of Schools and new school laboratories, rehabilitation of hospitals and rural health centres. Others are expansion of social facilities, provision of pipe-borne water to rural areas, introduction of Sure–P in remote areas of the FCT, supply of fertilizers, tractors and farming implements to farmers at subsidized rates, creation of grazing areas, introduction of new environmental guidelines and machines to help in cleaning the city and enacting new bye laws for urbanization and development of area councils. The Minister of State, Mrs. Olajumoke Akinjide, described as a bold step ever taken by any FCT Minister to attract the numerous development challenges of the ever expanding and dynamic Abuja city.
The same view was also expressed by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Engr. John Chukwu and other FCTA/FCDA directors as well as Chief E. Awodu, the Minister’s Senior Special Assistant at a recent discussion forum in Abuja.
As a mark of good faith and his commitment to the success of many laudable programmes, and as the longest serving FCT Minister, having been appointed by President Jonathan in 2010, Bala’s passion for the land-swap, mass housing, Rail-line and provision of infrastructure will enable him to leave a durable legacy at the end of the day.
For more than four years now since Senator Bala assumed duties, he has passionately tackled the issue of land-reforms, resettlement, compensation, provision of infrastructure and providing good roads and security for the lives and properties of FCT residents. He has also been vigorously involved in the land-swap, sanitation, parks and garden enhancement, youth empowerment, improvement of transport system and mass housing for the less–privileged.
I must admit that the pace of development activities, especially on real issues that concerns the FCT residents directly, like the provision of critical infrastructure is much higher in the last four years or so.
A consensus opinion seems to suggest that FCT Minister falls in line with the dictum of a “square peg in a square hole.”
Many people actually believe that Senator Bala has opened a new chapter in the index of development in the FCT, as his interventions in the process of good governance, particularly in the provision of social infrastructure are impressive. Bala’s passion towards transformation of the grass-root to meet the challenges of a modern federal capital is legendary.
The minister has constructed some vital road network as a solution to the harrowing problems of traffic grid-locks on major entry and exit points in the FCT that made life hitherto unbearable. The near completed network of asphalt roads along the Airport and Kubwa expressway has been opened to commuters, thus bringing relief to the residents of these areas. These projects were captured under the primary infrastructural development in the territory, which covers rehabilitation and expansion of Airport Expressway and extension of inner southern Expressway. This road is said to have also touched the outer-southern expressway to the southern parkway.
Among his many other achievements is the provision of primary roads in mass housing schemes and circle road in the Abuja central area. The minister has commenced the construction of the Abuja International Trade Centre, the first of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa.
When completed, the trade center will open the floodgate of trade and commerce to flourish, while its ultra-modern facilities will bestow on the edifice “the World Conference Capital” in Abuja.
As part of dividends of democracy to the FCT residents, the minister, who is also conscious of the increasing population of the territory, has embarked on the development of Kagini district in the Abuja northwest, while work on engineering infrastructure to Wuye, Jahi, Mbora and Idu districts have started in earnest.
Also, infrastructural projects in Karmo are in progress, while the provision of facilities to Maitama Extension, also known as Goodluck District, is under way.
Several hospitals and health centres were similarly established with enhanced drugs and service delivery. Conscious of the fact that education is the bedrock of any modern society, the administration is leaving no stone unturned in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target. It has invested a lot in the education sector.
The success story is that, today, there is increased enrolment in schools, colleagues and tertiary institutions, while the non-formal education also got a boost.
The mother of all the achievements recorded in the FCT is the introduction of the land-swap model which will lead to the provision of more critical infrastructure as the magic that will fast-track the development of the entire 8,000 kilometres of the new capital city.
In line with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, Bala Mohammed has teamed-up with the public private partnership (PPP) for the successful execution of the infrastructural development projects in Durumi, Kada, Mabushi and Gwarinpa Districts.
Under the infrastructure development, the FCTA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) of the private sector driven centenary city project worth over $18 billion to make the Abuja city as the center for Nigerian political history, political and cultural hub for the peace and progress of the nation.
Senator Bala’s team also introduced a new transport policy and provided nearly 7,000 high capacity buses to ply major routes in the city center apart from providing brand new transit buses in order to ameliorate transport difficult by commuters in the city. This is apart from the Abuja Light Rail project and the new Abuja Taxi mode which will complement the Abuja Railway Project for the ever-busy Nyanya-Maraba axis aimed at slowing the notorious traffic hold-up in that areas.
There is also Bala’s efforts to vigorously protect and implement the Abuja Master Plan provision by constituting a powerful committee for effective supervision apart from giving a solid support to the Abuja management metropolitan council to do its work properly.
Nigerian’s First Lady, Madam Patience Jonathan once said that the various landmark projects which Bala initiated and currently executing were a clear demonstration of the Minister’s determination to properly implement the government transformation agenda in Abuja for the benefit of the residents.
Biu can be reached on [email protected]