This Day (Lagos)

11 December 2009

Nigeria: House Seeks Removal of FCT Minister

Abuja — The House of Representatives yesterday brought the Federal Capital Territory Administration under intense scrutiny as lawmakers decried the poor sanitary condition and decay of social infrastructure in the Federal Capital City of Abuja and its satellite towns.

In what could be described as a vote of no confidence, the House said the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Muhammad Adamu Aliero had failed in the primary obligations of keeping the city clean and maintenance of its infrastructure.

The lawmakers urged him to resign from the office to allow for the appointment of a more competent person to superintend over the city, alleging that whereas large budgetary allocations have been made for the administration, commensurate results have not been recorded.

In the interim, the House has resolved to mandate its Committee on Federal Capital Territory to take all necessary steps in its oversight functions, to obtain explanations from the Minister and other stakeholders why filth, destitute and commercial motorcyclists have gradually taken over the metropolis.

The resolution was the outcome of a motion brought to the plenary by the Chairman, House Committee on Air Force, Honourable John Halims Agoda (PDP Delta). Agoda who expressed dismay at the deteriorating state of the Capital City remarked that the current situation was a negative departure from what the city was during the Obasanjo administration when Mallam Nasir El -Rufai was in charge of the Federal Capital territory Administration.

The lawmaker said that though, El-Rufai had his shortcomings, he achieved a lot in terms of rescuing the city from its near slum-state and restoring dignity to the Capital Territory. Agoda however lamented that since the exit of El-Rufai Abuja has again begun to wear the looks of a slum. He urged the FCT authorities to visit other world capitals and borrow a leaf on how modern cities ought to be run in order to protect its aesthetic beauty, keep the social infrastructure running and attracting tourists and potential investors.

"We are all aware what the situation was under the El-Rufai administration. In spite of his shortcomings, the Abuja Master Plan was followed religiously and the transport system in the territory was perfect. Unfortunately, the situation is not the same under the present administration. What we have now is that those in authority have gone to sleep. The only achievement the Minister (Aliero) can boast of is the increment in land fees and construction of speed bumps in the city.

"The general descent of the nation's capital city to a state of slum is an indictment on the nation's ability to evolve a value re-orientation that emphasises the culture of cleanliness, order and civility. The incremental despoliation of the sanitation of Abuja is a contradiction of the well-intentioned objective of government at all times and the need to be guided by the master plan of the Federal Capital Territory. The resurgence of filth and destitute and motor cyclists in the metropolis was likely to give the impression that there had been a public policy reversal to allow them return to Abuja streets when, indeed the contrary was the case," Agoda said.

Also yesterday, the House passed a motion urging the Federal Government of Nigeria to draw the attention of the African Union [AU] to a new form of imperialism and land acquisition by some trans-national corporations and rich nations of the world.

The lawmakers urged all tiers of government in Nigeria to devise proactive measures against this land grab by protecting communal lands from those they referred to as predators. It specifically mandated its Committee on Governmental Affairs to liaise with all tiers of government in the country to mobilise the local communities to resist the temptation of donating public lands to foreign interests under any guise.

Honourable Samaila Abdulahi Mohammed, who brought the motion on the land grab and new imperialism expressed worries that over the years, large expanse of African lands have either been bought or leased to foreign countries and trans-national companies under the guise of agricultural development. According to him, the new form of imperialism in the name of development posed a threat to lives, ecological balance, and may in the future create resource conflicts in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

However, the third motion on the alleged violation of the 1999 Constitution and the Appropriation Act of 2009 was shot down midway. The motion sponsored by Honourable Leo Okuweh Ogo (PDP Delta) sought the mandate of the House to compel the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye to suspend a certain circular (HCSF/061/S.I/111/245) issued on November 30, 2009, stating guidelines for processing of all local and foreign travels.

The circular directed all MDAs to aggregate and domicile all travel votes with the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, thereby creating travel votes with effect from December 31, 2009. Ogor had sought the suspension of the said circular, arguing that the call for such creation violates the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, as well as the 2009 Appropriation Act. The move to tackle the Head of Service was however dramatically scuttled when speaker Dimeji Bankole conferred with the leadership of the House and subsequently advised Ogor to suspend the motion.

According to Bankole, the said policy had already been rejected by the Federal Executive Council [FEC] at its Wednesday meeting and it was therefore not necessary for the House to delve into the issue again.

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