The House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, to appear before it to explain the deteriorating infrastructure and rising insecurity in the nation’s capital under his watch.
The anger by the legislators came at a time residents of Abuja and environs accused both the FCT Administration and the six area councils of not doing much to improve or maintain the existing infrastructure in the territory.
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Those who spoke to Daily Trust observed that in the past few years, the refuse collection system has collapsed, the sewage systems blocked, while miscreants are having a field day terrorising residents.
The residents said security and traffic lights are not functioning in many places, transport systems are unregulated while illegal parks have sprung up in many parts of the FCT.
At the plenary on Tuesday, members of the House of Representatives expressed their reservations ahead of the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu.
Okechukwu, while moving the motion titled ‘Urgent need to arrest the fast deterioration of the Federal Capital Territory’, raised “grave concerns” over the dearth and poor management of infrastructure in Abuja, among other anomalies.
He expressed concerns about the worsening poor waste management practice in the FCT, including dearth and poor maintenance of waste treatment plants despite a claim by the Minister of State, FCT, Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, that N8 billion was being set aside annually for waste management in the FCT.
“The House notes with grave concern that Abuja has never been as unsafe as it is today due to the influx of bandits and other criminals; lack of modern security infrastructures in the city centre and the satellite towns and non-maintenance of available ones, including CCTV installations and as little as streetlights,” Rep. Okechukwu said, adding that “The House notes with concern the poor city management bedevilling the FCT resulting in obvious disorderliness and widespread deteriorations.”
He equally raised “serious concern” over the indiscriminate allocation of lands in the FCT without a matching infrastructural development.
According to him, the recent abductions of lecturers of the University of Abuja and the sudden disappearance of a Vanguard reporter all attested to how unsafe the FCT has become.
Rep. Okechukwu lamented the acute lack of infrastructure in the satellite towns and the resort by tax-paying citizens to self-help in the territory that should ordinarily be a model rural development in Nigeria.
He expressed worries about “The far-reaching consequences of the absence of a full complement of the FCTA’s administrative structures for about two years since the reappointment of Bello as FCT minister in 2019, including the non-appointment of Mandate Secretaries (equivalents of commissioners) to form the FCT Executive Council.”
He, therefore, urged the House to resolve to summon the minister to appear before the Committee of the Whole House to brief the lawmakers on the above-outlined issues.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila ruled on the motion summoning the FCT minister to appear before the House after it was adopted by the lawmakers through voice votes.
The exact date the minister would appear was not made public.
‘Minister will honour invitation’
When contacted for reaction, the Senior Special Adviser to the minister on media, Abdullahi Sanni, said that members of the House of Representatives or the National Assembly have the right to summon the minister on any issue, which he will honour.
According to him, the National Assembly serves as the state of assembly to the FCT Administration and therefore could ask the minister to appear before it at any time.
He, however, declined further comments on the issue.
Filth, thugs everywhere
Mrs Agnes Joseph, a civil servant in Abuja said before now, officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) were on top of their jobs as they frequently clean up the city but the situation had changed.
“Before now, AEPB even engaged private refuse collectors to clean up the city but the reverse is the case,’’ she said.
A commercial driver, Mr Jimoh Alhassan, said the situation was worse in the FCT during the rainy season as drainage systems were not being managed properly.
“You could see flood submerging major roads whenever it rained because the drainage and the gutters were filled with refuse. It was that bad,’’ he said.
Mrs Ayoni Olatunbosun, a resident of Garki, noted that the street light system had also collapsed.
She decried the darkness in the major streets at night due to the collapse of the street light system.
“Many traffic lights will work for a while and stop and no one is attending to them and the result is the many accidents we do see at the dangerous junctions,’’ she said.
Also, a cross-section of residents complained over the decay of the Kwali Waterworks, which supplies water to people of Kwali metropolis for the past four years, a situation they said had subjected residents to severe suffering.
A resident of Kwali, Samuel Musa, said the Kwali Waterworks was commissioned four years ago but collapsed a year later.
“And since the waterworks stopped working for nearly three years now, residents of Kwali town mostly go in search of water at the river,” he said.
Another resident of Kwali, Joshua Bako, lamented over the abandonment of the Kwaita-Yebu road by the administration.
“During the rainy season, the Kwaita-Yebu is a nightmare to people of the area, especially farmers, who usually transport their crops to Abaji or Kwali market,” he said.
At Bwari, a resident, Dr Kolawole Jimoh, said, “If you go to some of these villages, getting water during the dry season is always a problem. I have not seen the government doing anything to address some of these problems; not even to dig boreholes in some of these villages.”
On security, many FCT residents were worried about activities of bandits in and around the territory, saying the administration had done little to address the menace.
Residents of rural communities said fleeing bandits from the troubled northern states were setting up camps in some forests around villages in the territory.
The locals told Daily Trust that the fleeing bandits had established camps around Zukpatu, Gadoro, Achimbi, Pesu, Duda, Pani, Gaube and new Gwombe communities in the Kuje area of the FCT.
Some villagers who spoke with one of our reporters said the bandits warned them against exposing their hideouts to security agents.
A resident of the Gaube community, who simply identified himself as Ibrahim called for urgent intervention.
Daily Trust had reported that more than 30 residents were kidnapped between September and early this month.
One of the rescued kidnapped victims in Pegi axis of Abuja, who preferred anonymity, said, “Government needs to do something quickly before the situation gets out of hand because of what I saw… I asked myself how these criminals were able to sneak to such places with their arms.”
He called on security operatives to up their game. “I don’t think if anywhere in Nigeria will be safe if we don’t get it right in the FCT, which is the symbol of our nationhood,” he said.
By Itodo D. Sule, Hussein Yahaya & Abubakar Sadiq Isah