Anybody planning how to skew the process for personal advantage, would discover the hard way that there is a new sheriff in town and it would no longer be business as usual, Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said on Wednesday.
Wike, former Governor of Rivers State and the only Minister of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or member of the opposition in the cabinet of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), made this solemn declaration on the floor of the National Assembly, where he presented and defended a N61billion supplemental budget for the year 2023.
The Minister, whose is presenting the fresh estimates one month to the end of 2023, said components of the proposal, were projects-specific, added that President Bola Tinubu would commission most of them including the Abuja Metroline by May as part of activities marking the president’s one year in office.
According to him, the N61 billion FCT Supplementary Budget was drawn from its Paris Club refund, PAYE, the N5billion special presidential intervention for states, the presidential infrastructure support funds and the territory’s Internally Generated Revenue IGR.
For instance, Wike, who assured that the President would commission the metro line by May adding that part of the project, which would ease the movement of the people in the capital, was already contained in the national budget, presented by Tinubu on the same day.
Wike, who also spoke on the fate of victims of the administration’s demolition exercises, blamed them for the situation, saying there was no way that the desire of a world-class Federal Capital Territory by Nigerians could materialise with those entrusted with making it happen engaging in excuses for unplanned and illegal developments.
Noting that demolitions could not be stopped as long as people continue to build on green areas, water and sewage lines and other unapproved places, he said the Administration would however pay compensation in areas designated for resettlement.
He said: “We can’t stop demolitions. You cannot go and build in a green area and then when we demolish, you want us to compensate you. Illegality is illegality. But if we want to acquire your property for development, we will pay you.”
Wike, who justified his decision to engage Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to help handle cases involving the Administration, lamented that the lack of diligent prosecution of cases in the past by FCT officials led to the loss of a number of cases, adding that over 800 litigations involving the FCT, were currently pending in various courts.
Wike, who also alleged complicity on the part of some officials who connived with plaintiffs to get judgments against the FCT Administration, he said: “I have never seen a territory with over 800 litigations. Some of these litigations were in connivance with staff of the FCT. So, I said I will engage SANs because I don’t want a situation whereby someone will go to court and then agree with the plaintiffs and judgment is entered against the FCT.”
Revealing that his administration would revive the city’s mass transit system to eliminate cases of “one chance”, adding that private operators would undergo security vetting before being allowed into the system, he added that he was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) with regards to providing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in strategic parts of the city.
Accusing some of his staff of using some Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) entered into by the FCT with some private developers, to fleece the administration, he vowed to cancel the contracts, adding: “I will cancel several PPPs. All the PPPs in Abuja are about land and are against the FCT.”
Citing a case in Wassa where the FCT gave a developer land for mass housing, and gave him another N85billion for infrastructure, he lamented a situation where the same developer would go and build houses, and sell to people at market value without anything coming to the government.
On the recertification of all Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os,) he said: “All C of Os will be recertified and you will put your NIN. In FCT, there are a lot of fake C of Os but with this new development, we will end that and security-wise, we can know people who own each structure. If you have a C of Os and you have enjoyed recertified, it will no longer be valid,” he stated.
Chairman of the House Committee on FCT, Muktar Betara lauded the minister for his passion for developing the territory, however urged him to reconsider the uniform fees for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, saying highbrow areas like Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and others cannot have the same fees with the satellite towns.