Im­pact-as­sess­ment of Bala Muhammed’s FCT poli­cies

Daily Trust - - VIEWS - Abu Na­jakku dan­bel­lo­jikan­yari@ya­

The Min­is­ter of the Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory, Se­na­tor Bala Muhammed, gained promi­nence dur­ing the Se­nate de­bate on the ill-health of Pres­i­dent Umar Musa Yar’adua. Bala Muhammed had raised his voice on the side of those who saw the need to trans­fer full pres­i­den­tial pow­ers to the then Vice Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan in the light of the sick­ness that had in­ca­pac­i­tated Pres­i­dent Umar Musa Yar’adua. Bala Muhammed, there­fore, owes his ap­point­ment to that vo­cif­er­ous call and since then, and as pay back, he has been in the pres­i­dent’s cab­i­net in charge of the Min­istry of Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory.

In re­cent times, Bala Muhammed has es­tab­lished him­self as Jonathan’s man Fri­day. Tour­ing the city re­cently, Bala Muhammed said con­trary to what his di­rec­tors had been telling him, he had ob­served that hawk­ers, beg­gars, mai suya and dirt had kind of made Abuja unattrac­tive. If you are a Min­is­ter for four years or more and have just dis­cov­ered that your di­rec­tors have been telling you lie, with less than one year to go in your ten­ure, chances are that you have been run­ning the ad­min­is­tra­tion on lies and there­fore need to re-ex­am­ine all the poli­cies and ac­tions you have car­ried out so far.

It may well be also that the new pol­icy of rid­ding Abuja of beg­gars, hawk­ers and mai suya is poorly con­ceived, not to men­tion the il­lad­vised for­ma­tion of a com­mit­tee un­der the chair­man­ship of Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Mbu Joseph Mbu, (fresh from his Rivers State vic­tory against a ‘dic­ta­tor’ gover­nor) to clear Abuja of this cat­e­gory of Nige­ri­ans. Words have it that Bala and Mbu have the same god­mother in the per­son of Pa­tience Jonathan, such that when other gov­er­nors re­jected Mbu’s post­ing to their states, Bala said ‘bring him here’.

It is amaz­ing that Bala Muhammed’s eyes only rested on hawk­ers, beg­gars, dirt and mai suya be­cause side by side with those are other ugly sites of Abuja. For ex­am­ple, 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 all the way to Aso Villa, this road is yet to be com­pleted.

Bala Muhammed’s FCT ad­min­is­tra­tion is no­to­ri­ous for slow com­ple­tion of or aban­doned projects. For ex­am­ple, even though three pedes­trian bridges have been un­der con­struc­tion in Wuye, Mabushi and Me­mo­rial Drive (be­tween Sher­a­ton Ho­tel and Shehu Yar’adua Cen­tre) for more than a year, none of them has been com­pleted. In the ab­sence of pedes­trian bridges, many people have been killed while try­ing to cross these roads from one side to the other, es­pe­cially at the VIO Mabushi junc­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the in­for­ma­tion avail­able, this project is fi­nanced by the World Bank un­der the Federal Roads De­vel­op­ment Project (FRDP). The client re­mains Federal Min­istry of Works Im­ple­men­ta­tion Unit Road Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment Team (RSDT) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The com­pany han­dling all the pedes­trian bridges is one con­trac­tor named Du­tum. For sev­eral months now, they have caused traf­fic jam at the site of con­struc­tion work, par­tic­u­larly Mabushi and be­hind Sher­a­ton Ho­tel.

What about the Utako Mo­tor Park be­side Thisday head of­fice? For the nearly twenty years of its ex­is­tence, the Utako mo­tor park has re­mained an eye­sore. The road leading to the park is like the type ob­tained from the for­got­ten town of Kau­ran Namoda. Nei­ther the park nor the road leading out of it is be­fit­ting for Abuja. Has Min­is­ter Bala Muhammed gone there to in­spect?

Or the ugly fence of the so-called Ea­gle Square. It beats my imag­i­na­tion that the min­is­ter, de­spite hav­ing at­tended many PDP events there, is yet to take a look at the grotesque fence be­queathed to the Square by its con­trac­tors. Bala Muhammed should im­me­di­ately ap­point a People’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) con­trac­tor to erect a new century fence for Ea­gle Square.

But why is the FCT Min­is­ter’s searchlight only on the hawk­ers, beg­gars and mai suyas of Abuja? Is it be­cause they are of lower so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus? Is Abuja only for the politi­cians and the rich? Ob­vi­ously, Bala Muhammed, Mbu and oth­ers for­get that those who founded Abuja con­ceived of it to be a tran­quil cap­i­tal city at peace with it­self and a wel­come place for all man­ners of Nige­ri­ans, and as a sym­bol of our unity. The FCT ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies since Bala Muhammed took of­fice have taken an anti-people di­men­sion, and un­der which du­bi­ous agencies have been en­gaged to charge people park­ing fees on boule­vards the min­ster did not con­struct. Nor has he im­proved them in any way, and people are now ask­ing who own these agencies and to what use do they put the money they fleece car own­ers. This is sheer ex­ploita­tion of a people. Imag­ine, these ex­ploita­tive agencies don’t even have the paint to re­trace the road mark­ings de­mar­cat­ing park­ing spa­ces for the ve­hi­cles, even though ev­ery­day they smile to the bank with thou­sands of naira in fines and other charges at the ex­pense of mo­torists.

Many Abuja res­i­dents say they pre­fer that the mai suya people are left alone. They say they en­joy the suya and many a times, when they don’t want to eat at home, they go to these suya spots to eat, drink and re­lax. The people also say they pre­fer to do busi­ness with mai suya many more times, than of­fi­cials of the FCT, be­cause the malam gives them what they want for the worth of their money. The min­is­ter and Co should find out why these Nige­ri­ans beg, hawk and sell suya, in the streets of Abuja, and tackle the chal­lenge ac­cord­ingly.

The Mil­len­nium Dec­la­ra­tion of the year 2000 says; “Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their chil­dren in dig­nity, free from hunger and from the fear of vi­o­lence, op­pres­sion or in­jus­tice”. Bala Muhammed has achieved noth­ing that the toil­ing masses can be proud of. He should there­fore leave these Nige­ri­ans alone.

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