Wike: In Eyes of The Federal Capital Territory

Former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike

Wike: In Eyes of The Federal Capital Territory

When the news filtered in that the pragmatic former governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Nyesom Wike, was assigned the portfolio of managing the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, Nigerians greeted the news with several feelings. Some thought he should have been given the Ministry of Works because of his antecedent history in Rivers State where in only 8 years, the state became the project capital for Julius Berger, JB. Others felt some sense of apprehension as demolition will inevitably ensue in Abuja. Whatever it was, the status quo will not remain.

It was however with some form of awkward feeling I read a piece credited to Dr. Sam Amadi, the Director of the Abuja School of Social and Political Theory, who expressed doubt about the appointment of Wike as the Minister of the FCT.

His submission was that Abuja is already fairly well-built in terms of infrastructure. “Thus I am not one to enthusiastically support those who praise Wike.

Abuja doesn’t require extensive construction of roads and bridges, it is already well-developed in that regard.”

I am shocked that this is coming from a resident of Abuja who should know better. Perhaps he was playing partisan politics with this manipulated untruth.

Abuja, as a matter of fact, is unbefitting to be called the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. I am sure Dr Sam Amadi has visited cities like Cairo, Johannesburg, Gaborone, Addis Ababa…and other African capital cities.

Abuja is littered with shanties even within the core business districts. Several attempts have been made to clear them, most have not yielded results.

For example, Durumi 1and 2 are such areas that even allegedly habour criminal elements. There are other shanties around Asokoro, Maitama, Dutse…that must be demolished to give the city its desired outlook.

Apart from the dismantling of shanties that dot all parts of the city, some structures that were not certified to be built will need to be brought down.

Gardens need to be restored to their original concepts. Illegal timber sheds, shops under tree plantations, perimeter fences, clusters of shops and street markets and all need to addressed appropriately. In 2022, the Director of FCT Department of Development Control, Mukhtar Galadima, disclosed that over 10,000 illegal structures were demolished in the last 8 years.

Again, the original Abuja master plan has been severely distorted and altered. Governor Wike must sit down to take a look at this keenly without listening to the likes of Dr. Sam Amadi who seems not to know.

He must address the factors distorting the restoration of the master plan that was started when former Governor El Rufai was the FCT Minister. There are deliberate illegal fencing, building on water channels and road corridors. All these have contributed to the distortion of the master plan and has hampered development.

While wastes are disposed indiscriminately, there is also need for Wike to look at effective waste management. The city is filthy in some parts. A holistic waste management system must be on boarded to address this environmental menace.

Another aspect Wike will need to concentrate on is the amount of government abandoned projects that litter the city must be addressed before new projects are awarded.

Some of these abandoned or uncompleted projects littering the city are the Millennium Tower and Cultural Centre, Abuja Technology Village Science and Technology Park, Abuja Technology Village, Utako General Hospital, National Library, NIPOST Headquarters, FIRS Headquarters, Ministry of Agric Headquarters, the popular underground pedestrian bridge which links the FCDA to the FCT Minister’s wing and the 15km Apo-Karshi road. Others include
From the huge cost of the projects, some of them running into hundreds of billions of Naira, many people in the FCT believe that with the current economic reality – inflation in the cost of building materials and the devaluation of the naira – most of the projects may not see the light of the day, and may remain uncompleted for years to come. But there is some optimism today as Wike takes charge as from on Monday, 21st, 2023.

There are other several uncompleted pedestrian bridges, roads and smaller projects that gives the city an awkward undeserving outlook. Wike, through the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) must explore all available opportunities to increase budgetary appropriations to address these projects or find ways to attract Public Private Partnership (PPP) option to complete these projects.

Wike must also find ways to increase the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, within the city and stem the tide where such revenues end up in private pockets as has been the norm rather then the exception.

Lastly, Abuja is without aesthetics. Where are the fountains, statues monuments, graffiti designs…? The Abuja urban spaces must not only be better planned but also showcase a sense of public aesthetics.

Without mincing words, Wike is in the eyes of the Federal Capital Territory and he should have free hands to replicate what he was able to achieve in Rivers State that earned him Mr Project.

Elempe Dele wrote from Abuja

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