interviewBy Nasir Imam
Ari Isa Mohammed is the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the FCT Administration (FCTA). In this interview, he speaks on the activities of his department viz-a viz the public-private partnership PPP arrangement with stakeholders. Excerpts:
We are looking at the basic statistics of business premises, in the proposed Yellow pages of Abuja we were initially looked at 20,000 business units. Now we are looking at 30,000 in the FCT. But beyond that what we are focusing now is that we are conducting a household's survey pilot scheme to count every household in the FCT so that it gives us a better planning horizon. We want to know how household dispose their waste, their mode of transportation. This data will help us plan for next year.
Secondly we are doing the trade and investment policy in order to grow trade and investment in the FCT through rules and regulations. We are also looking at the industrial zone and the Free Trade Zone so that we allow light manufacturing companies to produce and also we have some tax exemption and to thus create the employment we need.
In the next three years, our aim in is to create 150,000 employment opportunities through the trade and investment scheme.
Public Private Partnership
In terms of partnership, we are working with UNIDO on this as well as other public and private partners. We had over 50 stakeholders and 200 participants at one sitting to critique the first draft policy that we had.
Other countries are also coming, Canadian Embassy, the World Bank, the United Nations UN through the System Assistance Framework, and even Brazil, we are working together.
Total sector investment has been put at $4.6 billion in the last 12-14 months, and you can see it for yourself if you travel along the central business centre, you could see the World Trade Centre, that is a billion dollar investment in itself.
We also have the Abuja Town Centre development by the Balkan Group coming from the USA. In that, we are looking at $ 2.6 billion. So, you can see that they are injecting money which will create employment in the FCT.
Abuja Yellow Book
We have really gone far, we have given it to our printers and are summing up the adverts because we have to have at least 10% of the pages being adverts from companies, and we have over 32,000 business premises in the city and area councils.
Impact in FCT rural areas
Interestingly, because our department is housing the MDGs and the UN projects at least we have in the last 24 months created 20,000 employment in the rural communities, we have created access to quality health care through the mobile health scheme which we call the Mailafiya scheme and which has seen 60,000 patients per annum free of charge and we have them on our database.
We have also completed 18 out of 42 primary health care centres in these communities and already 12 are functioning. We have already employed volunteer doctors, nurses and midwives as workers to serve in these hospitals.
We have also bought 3 high capacity ambulances that will be strategized in these communities in case there are referees from these small PHC centres to secondary health facilities.
Also, in the last two years, we established micro-financed banks with N120 million to assist the poor.
One, we are doing it with all the stakeholders, so if we are talking of a community we have community leaders and we have grouped them into cooperative societies like the Community Agriculture Empowerment Initiative where they have about twenty something thousand farmers in their data already in 172 communities. They all provide 10 hectares and we give them tractors, fertilizers, inputs and extension services.
Again here, each community has a team and we have log books where in each community a leader must sign before he collects his or her allowance, the same thing with the health sector, a doctor must sign with the community leaders whenever he comes. And we have a monitoring and evaluation mechanism through which we design our key performance indicators of each of the relevant programmes we are looking at.
Our department is relatively 3 years and we have been able to achieve all these. Our challenge is really capacity first before funding. We really have the enabling environment, the government will to support economic planning to be the fulcrum of the strategic implementation of its plans in the FCT.
But we need more hands, more capable hands to carry us to the communities.
Thirdly, we are still advocating and communicating but you know for us to appreciate change it takes quite a while so we are trying to sort out the communication gap between stakeholders. It is also a challenge but we are getting over that.