4 December 2011

Nigeria: Akinjide's First Quarter of Silent Revolution in FCT


Interestingly, all the aides of Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, the Minister of State, FCT were preparing for her 100 days in office in full throttle as many people are wont to do in Government circles. Series of meetings were held where each and everyone would proudly table one tangible achievement or the other that the Harvard trained Minister has recorded within her few days in office.

Some even went ahead to rationalise why pages of newspapers should be inundated with advertorials and pictures depicting the giant strides of the female minister of state for the FCT, who sees the big pictures without losing sight of the details. All factors considered, this writer gleefully lent his voice to the call for a 'bang' celebration of Oloye Akinjide's 100 days in office.

However, later event proved us all wrong.

Right from the July 12, 2011 when Mrs. Akinjide assumed duty, she has never concealed her abiding interest for a speedy development of the satellite towns and the Area Councils of the FCT. She has from day one hit the ground running in pursuance of a well articulated plan to create a new lease of life to the satellite towns hitherto neglected at the expense of the city by successive FCT Administrations.

To her, there must be a dramatic u-turn from the monoliothic approach of concentrating attention on the city which is already bursting as its seams without corresponding development of the satellite towns. Based on her strong will to walk her talk on fast-tracking infrastructure, economic development, repair and maintenance of the satellite towns, there is now a plan to create a Satellite Town Development Agency(STDA) to focus holistically on rapid development of the Satellite Towns. While inaugurating a seven-man committee to develop a strategic framework for the smooth sailing of the Agency, Oloye Akinjide stated in an unambiguous term- "my vision is that the agency should be staffed and have people who are driven by excellence and the spirit of service and see the satellite towns as destinations of choice and not necessarily because they do not have any other option". A staunch believer in Louis Althasseur's dictum that "only the production of new knowledge keeps old knowledge alive", Oloye would not rest until she produces a highly refreshing blueprint.

What is particularly enthralling about the minister is not her sagacity which no one can doubt, or her pragmatic approach to governance, but her solid rock determination to turn around the fortunes of FCT in no time, even at her personal health risk. When the idea of celebrating her giant strides within 100 days in office was touted, she dismissed such with cold passivity. She retorted in what still continues to reverberate in my memory as a voice of a silent revolutionary leader. "I don't believe in kiss and tell approach to governance, we should not be overexcited. I'd rather we stayed focussed and let the public applaud us as they enjoy the dividends."

This piece is not to celebrate the visionary and exemplary leadership style of Oloye Olajumoke, it is just a way of providing a feedback loop to the public on the activities of the minister in recent times for public scrutiny. One of such is the Clean and Green Greater Abuja initiative of the minister of state aimed at instilling the culture of cleanliness in the minds of Abuja residents.

Quite a number of traditional dumpsites littering the landscape of Abuja and environs like daisies in the spring before now have been evacuated. Greening of the area councils have commenced in earnest with tree planting programmes to reduce harsh climatic conditions and doubly provide FCT residents with relaxation spots. Structured in a way that will make it sustainable, the initiative is hinged on Participatory Development Approach(PDA). All the Area Council Chairmen, traditional rulers, and major stakeholders have keyed into the programme.

In the areas of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide has approved the release of a 2.4hectares of land to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the establishment of agricultural produce market at Giri, Gwagwalada Area Council. When it takes off, the market will produce three thousand jobs for FCT residents. It is also instructive to note that, just recently, the Minister distributed fishery equipment worth seventeen million naira to fish traders co-operatives in FCT at 50 per cent subsidy, while she is now pushing hard to commence the disbursement of one billion naira Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme to small holder farmers to boost their production.

As part of her fulfilment in youth capacity building, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide has sponsored a group of eight youths to an International Conference on Youth Development organised by the International University in Putrajaya, Malaysia. This was sequel to a two weeks leadership retreat for twenty-one officials of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.

Talking of Art and Culture, Fct Administration under the supervision of the Minister of State sponsored the 8th Edition of Abuja International Film Festival and used the ocassion to cement harmonious working relationship with the organisers.

Apparently worried by the deplorable state of a Craft Viilage that is supposed to be one of the cynosures in Nigeria's tourism, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide has visited Ushafa Pottery Centre in Bwari Area Council and is now putting out all stops to put the Craft Village in proper shape to attract global attention. Already, a committee has been raised to work in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation on how to realise this lofty objective.

Without any gain saying, the problem of housing and paucity of infrastructure in the Satellite Town of FCT is on the verge of extinction as the Minister of State, FCT has put in motion some measurable plans in the 2012 budget to address this problem. Now that the engine is revved and the driver set for the trip with Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide on the driver's seat, it will take no time for FCT residents to reach their proverbial "Promised Land".

Isiaka Kehinde is the Media Assistant to the Honourable Minister of State, FCT

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