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Federal Capital Territory – Development Challenges

Sam-KargboPost
Posted: Nov 1, 2016 at 6:14 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Sam Kargbo

The administration and management of the FCT presents a unique model that should commend itself to the states. The FCT is run by two separate but mutually dependent authorities – the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) headed by a Minister, assisted by a Minister of State, and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) manned by an Executive Secretary. Whereas the Minister of the FCTA reports to Mr. President, his appointer, the Executive Secretary reports to a Board Chaired by the Honourable Minister of the FCTA.

The FCTA was created in December, 2004 to replace the Ministry of the FCT and streamline the ministry’s operations along the lines of Mandate Secretariats – Education, Transport, Agriculture and Rural Development, Health and Human Services, Social Development, Legal Services and Area Council. These Mandate Secretariats are administered like State Ministries; but, instead of Commissioners, they are headed by Secretaries administering them on behalf of the Minister of the FCTA. The current – 16th – Minister is Mohammed Musa Bello. The appointment of the Secretaries respects the principles of Federal Character. Besides these Secretaries, the Director of the Land Department, the Administrator of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, and that of Abuja Geographical Information System also report directly to the Minister, who formulates and presents the FCT’s Policies to the National Executive Council and the National Assembly.

The FCDA, established by a decree on February 5, 1976 to manage the FCT’s infrastructural and physical development, is responsible for the design, planning and management of the territory’s master plan. The construction of all Federal Government buildings comes within the purview of the FCDA, which is why the FCT usually has seemingly bloated budgets, and executes two sets of budgets. The Minister of the FCTA is the Chairman of the Governing Board of the FCDA, while the Executive Secretary of the FCDA oversees the day-to-day running of the FCDA, operating through the following departments: Engineering; Survey and Mapping; Resettlement & Compensation; Finance & Administration; Mass Housing; Satellite Town Infrastructure; Urban & Regional Planning; Public Building; and Procurement. Many wrongly consider the Minister/FCTA and the FCDA as one and the same entity.

One authority of the FCTA crucial to the effective functioning of Abuja is the Abuja Municipal Management Council (AMMC), which operates through several departments, including the Department of Development Control, the department that controls and regulates land use and building.

From its conception and inception, Abuja was well-planned. The FCT is divided into Districts, broken down into residential areas and non-residential areas. The districts are grouped into development phases: Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4. Besides the ring roads connecting each part of the city to the other, every structure in the city was meant to conform to a master plan. The territory was meant to be seamless. No individual or institution is expected to build a structure in Abuja without the prior authorization of the Department of Development Control. Every district was meant to be self-sufficient and connected by infrastructure to other districts.

Abuja is undergoing rapid growth never anticipated at its conception. The upsurge in the city’s population is like a deluge. Today, Abuja is a haven for people fleeing more troubled spots across the country. Also, like the other cities in the country, people are migrating into the FCT to struggle for economic opportunities, modern amenities, access to education and to make a shift from working in agriculture to working in the service industry. The city is also home to the rich as it provides the comfort and ambience not identified with any other city in the country. The Federal Government also attracts human traffic to Abuja, being the largest, most viable economy in the country. The movement of the diplomatic expatriate community into the FCT also attracts low labour workers to service them. The insolvency of some of the neighbouring, contiguous states to the FCT also contributes to the daily migration of people into the FCT.

With this unprecedented growth come multi-faceted problems, such as the growth of slums and squatter settlements – which has stalled the development of districts like Jabi, Idu Industrial Area, Idu Sabo, Karmo and Utako. This bifurcation of the Capital into affluent and destitute enclaves has its socio-economic-cum-political problems. Besides, the security challenges these squatter settlements and slums throw up place a huge burden on controllers of the territory’s development. If not addressed with courage and political will, the burgeoning slums may soon derail the FCT’s master plan. Nowhere in the world can people put up settlements without proper authorization from relevant agencies. Even in villages and farmlands, development is regulated.

The authorities must face this looming calamity with proactive planning at the appropriate scale to halt the catastrophic drift. Professionals have emphasized that no city can on its own solve its problems. Scalable, attainable solutions require the active participation of the private sector. Although the ability of the FCTA and FCDA to generate self-sustaining funds to effect self-sustaining development in the FCT is imperative, the participation of all stakeholders in the development of the FCT is very important.