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Why I am confident about changing Abuja—Aliero

In an interview with journalists in Abuja recently, Aliero outlined areas that needed turning around which included education. Recently, he ordered the construction of 2,…

In an interview with journalists in Abuja recently, Aliero outlined areas that needed turning around which included education. Recently, he ordered the construction of 2, 000 units of classrooms to decongest most of the overcrowded classrooms in schools in the FCT.

He declared that education was central to his development plans and it needed utmost attention. “We have to employ more teachers in the education secretariat.  Education is human development. We can’t afford to neglect education.  If we do that, we do it at our own peril.  Posterity will not forgive us if we don’t give our children the standard education they require. For that reason, we are going to invest heavily in the education sector.”

Also on his priority list is the expansion of road networks in the city. He said about N25 billion has been committed to the expansion of the Abuja-Kubwa-Zuba expressway and the Airport road from four to ten lanes.

He said new districts will be opened up and appropriate charges for the allocated plots will be charged. “We want to make sure that commercial rates are being charged on allottees of plots.

“This is contrary to the present practice where allottees are charged very small amount and some of these allottees may not even have money to pay, but they will go and borrow money, knowing full well that it is good to speculate. They would borrow money to pay whatever the government rate is and they will go out and make N70 million and government is left without anything.

“We will provide the necessary infrastructure, but we want the allottees to pay for the cost of infrastructure; and, this cost, when we get it, we plough it back into the provision of additional infrastructure.  By so doing, there will be accelerated development of the entire Federal Capital Territory.”

Aliero added that it was important for the FCT to have a National Diagnostic Centre so that people will not have to go outside the country for treatment.

“There is this issue of a standard diagnostic centre where you have all the laboratory investigation together with radiological sevice that you can get in Europe. I believe we have enough manpower to do this. What we don’t have is the equipment. We are going to buy these items of equipment and install them in the centre, which will be here in Abuja,” he promised.

Aliero recalled that: “Whenever I look at what happened in Kebbi State, I take special pride because I left enduring legacy behind.  One, I built the University of Science and Technology and I made sure that University took off before I left office.  It is one of the best State Universities we have today.

“I equipped it with the best equipment.  Today, other universities are even sending their students there to go and use the equipment which I purchased.  Lecturers do go there on sabbatical leave because it is a modern university.  It is a university that has no equivalent in that zone.”

Aliero also recollected how he gave special attention to girl-child education. “I built five comprehensive girls secondary schools and science secondary schools, costing well over N1.8 billion.  I provided accommodation for teachers.  Science and laboratory equipments were purchased.   

“We improved on the condition of service of teaching generally in Kebbi State.  By the time I left, teachers in Kebbi State were getting about 30 percent salary increment.  That was why when there was Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) crisis in 2008, I regarded it as a non-issue because as far back as 2005, I had introduced that 30 percent salary increment.

“Teachers in Kebbi State were getting 30 percent over and above what their counterparts in other states were getting; because of what we did in the education sector in Kebbi State, we improved the performance of the students from five percent rate at which they passed their SSCE examination far back in 1999 to up to about 70 percent by the time I left office in 2007.

“One other area where I left an enduring legacy behind is rural development.  From 1999 to 2007, I connected well over 700 towns to the national grid.  Water is also another area where we played very important role.  I made sure that all the major towns and villages in Kebbi State had water supply.

“The ones I inherited, I made sure that I expanded them to cover areas where there was no water.  So, whenever I look back, honestly, I feel very happy for what I have done.  

I then talk of the Government House.  I had no Government House at the time I took over in 1999.  I built one of the best.  Presidential lodge was unheard of.  But I left a befitting presidential lodge by the time I left Kebbi State.  

“I also built an airport, which by every standard, is one of the best state airports in the country.  I even wanted the Federal Government to take over that airport.  Now that I’m here in Abuja, I will insist that they take over that airport.  President Obasanjo gave a directive that the airport should be taken over by the federal government.”

For Aliero, his pedigree in achieving development whenever he is at the helm of affairs is the yardstick the public should use in measuring his achievements when his tenure as minister of FCTA finally comes to an end.

He said his development plans for Abuja may be ambitious, nevertheless, he is also committed in ensuring that they are executed. “I am doing it quietly and within the context of the rule of law.”