Among the dispensations which are now playing out to define the character and course of governance of the Federal Capital Territory under the Presidency of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are at least two. The first is the style of administration launched by Nyesom Ezenwo Wike the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja following his appointment to the office by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
With his characteristic entry into any political arena or situation with drama and fanfare, the former governor of Rivers State and now the de facto Mayor of Abuja, Wike did not disappoint his admirers as well as traducers in equal numbers with the commencement of his tenure on a remarkable note. Against the backdrop of his antecedents as governor of Rivers State between 2015 and 2023, when a streak of political savvy marked his approach to whatever cause he believed in, many who had followed his political career did not expect differently.
So when during his inaugural press conference on Monday August 21 2023, he read the riot act to all whom it may concern, the message was clear that Abuja should prepare to contend with the imminence of the scenario which plays out in the song “Wike dey come Oh! Wike dey come Oh! Wike dey come Oh! I no go gree, I no go gree, stay for your house Oh!” At the press conference where he was flanked by the Minister of State for the FCT , Wike outlined his resolve to shake tables and step on toes in the resolve to address the restoration of the Abuja Master Plan, and has since then launched out in several administrative outings that it is not business as usual with him.
The other defining factor of the new administration in the FCT remains the emerging complement of proclivities of the federal legislators of the FCT comprising Senator Ireti Kingibe (Labour Party), who represents the FCT in the Nigerian Senate, and two Members of the House of Representatives comprising Jude Chinedu Obika (Labour Party) for AMAC/Bwari and Abdulrahman Ajiya (All Progressives Congress) for Abuja South. Following her electoral victory at the February 25 2023 National Assembly polls, and which was confirmed by the National Assembly Elections Tribunal sitting in Abuja, last week Tuesday, she spoke to journalists and put Wike on notice that the administration of the FCT may henceforth need to incorporate more formally, the oversight of the National Assembly ostensibly through the active role of the three elected legislators, ostensibly herself along with the two House of Representatives Members for the territory mentioned earlier. Of note is that in hitting the road of implementation of the new administration, Wike had authorized some fresh demolitions and other affirmative actions, which she referred to as having been carried out without the direct involvement of the legislators.
It is easily recalled that at his press conference, Wike had left nobody in doubt of his appreciation of the abysmally dysfunctional condition of Abuja, and pointedly promised to work towards the restoration of the Abuja Master Plan which has literally been compromised grossly. Hence the contemplation of the restoration of the Master Plan by Wike and the pronouncement by Kingibe, what Nigerians now expect is synergy not dissonance among the political leadership of the FCT, which comprises President Bola Tinubu, Nyesom Wike, Ireti Kingibe, Jude Chinedu Obika and Abdulrahman Ajiya. What the prevailing circumstances dictate is that Nigerians hold all of them responsible for addressing the dysfunctional state of affairs in the FCT, pursuant to its re-invention into the dream of the founding fathers. Their vision was that Nigeria should and will have a world-class capital city that will be at par with the best cities across the civilised world.
Meanwhile, even as the popular context of the Abuja Master Plan has largely been confined to the abuses that are associated with land allocation and building practices as well as malpractices which account for the now trending demolition exercises, the issues addressed by the plan package go beyond such a limited scope. For the purpose of clarification, the Abuja Master Plan was developed to address its self to the ways and means of creating a modern nation’s capital for the country that shall spur the aspirations of every Nigerian whether resident in or outside it.
Conceived in 1975 by the administration of late General Murtala Mohamed the FCT was intended to chart a new course for the development of the country, with a new capital city that will be at the centre of the country and without the defects of Lagos. Hence in June 1977, the firm of International Planning Associates (IPA) was commissioned by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to produce the Abuja Master Plan and its regional grid.
So far the implementation of the plan has been so distorted that the weaknesses of disoriented urbanisation tendencies have become so commonplace as to become unsustainable. A typical example is that the road from Eagle Square to the National Assembly First Gate bears a sign reading ‘Hospital Road’ when there is no medical facility within a kilometre of the street sign. Beyond the numerous discernible distortions in the Master Plan, are the slums and criminal dens that are openly part of every district including the city centre. This definitely remains a sore point.
Hence all we are saying is that the dysfunctional state of Abuja must be reversed and turned into a place of pride among the cities of the world under President Bola Tinubu.