Election Fever Grips Abuja Area Councils



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By Chuks Ehirim

This is August 2012, eight clear months to the April 2013 Area Council elections in the Federal Capital territory[FCT], Abuja. This notwithstanding, there is already an election fever in the air.

A pointer to this fact is the frantic efforts being made by various council Chairmen, both those seeking re-election and the ones on their way out of offices, to woo the electorate to support their parties in the next council elections.

There is no doubt about the fact that in most of these areas councils, the inhabitants are not satisfied with the performance of the regimes in offices. In spite of the huge funds accruing to the councils, both from the Federation accounts and the Internally Generated Revenue[IGR] sources, there is hardly anything to show for the close to three years these Chairmen have been in offices.

Investigations by this reporter revealed that the residents in the council areas are so disenchanted with their rulers that some have embarked on campaigns to get the Chairmen to account for the funds that came their ways these past years as there is no evidence to show that they were put to proper use that will benefit the people.

 

In Kuje Area Council, for instance, a group which calls itself ADVOCACY FOR CHANGE INITIATIVE[ACI], has been in the streets protesting the glaring non performance of the Danladi Etsu Zhin-led administration in the council area in the last five years plus. For over two months now, this group has been staging public protests in condemnation of the deplorable state of roads in Kuje town and environs. On Tuesday, while the Muslim Sallah festival was on,   it convened a town hall meeting for various stake holders in the area council.

The meeting which was held at the Sylca Motel, Kuje, was billed to address , among other things, “Kuje road problems and other issues”. It was a well attended meeting of angry people who poured out their disgust for the hardship they are subjected to daily, by the near zero performance of the Area Council administration.

“What is happening in Kuje is disheartening and unfortunate. They use biro to siphon our money and do nothing for us”, said one of those who attended the meeting. Another lamented that due to the deplorable state of roads in Kuje, the value of properties in the area has depreciated very badly.

Speaker after speaker on  the occasion expressed, deep- rooted gratitude to the organizers of the event, for providing them with a platform for ventilating their anger, using democratic process.

Among those who spoke at the occasion was the Divisional Police Officer[DPO],for Kuje Area Council, Danladi Isa, who in his speech,  thanked leaders of ACI for using peaceful, democratic means to address the problems of Kuje people.

According to him, ”it is because of the respect I have for this forum, that is why I am here. I want to say that the Police will encourage this organization because this is a democracy and as a civil force, it is our responsibility to give you all the support you want, provided you are law abiding, provided you follow due process, provided you don’t embark on illegalities’.

ACI had earlier petitioned the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory,Senator Bala Mohammed , over the state of roads in Kuje. In the petition dated July 31,2012 , signed by Patrick Ohifeime and Muazu Jimoh, President and Secretary of the group respectively,  and captioned “letter of protest on the deplorable conditions in Kuje”, the group lamented that “the present state of roads in kuje is deplorable, especially the Kuje-Gwagwalada Road .  The present condition of the road and the quality of work done so far on some portions is nothing to write home about”.

It added that “we also wish to bring to your notice the near absence of social amenities in Kuje. We have equally been asked to bring to your notice, the prolonged inability of the council chairman, to deploy transformers and tractors acquired for public use, several months after their acquisition. These issues, amongst others, have caused the people a lot of hardship”.

It demanded for what it called “immediate commencement of quality work on the Kuje-Gwagwalada Road”, as well as the convening of a town hall meeting in Kuje, “where the other issues raised can be addressed appropriately, through a public forum”

The group also warned that “failure to take appropriate measures to address these issues within the next seven days, will leave us with the option of staging a peaceful protest to convey our displeasure with the required media publicity”.

The group’s campaign could be seen as a follow up to the efforts of Senator Sidi Ali who, early last year, petitioned the Economic  and Financial Crimes Commission[EFCC], about the monumental corruption being perpetrated in the council area by Zhin’s administration.

While the regime makes huge fortunes from the allocations that accrue to it from the Federation Accounts, several communities in the council do not feel any government presence.

The worst hit appears to be people living in Pegi, a suburb of Kuje where the FCT administration resettled those it displaced at Idu -karimo, in 2005.Pegi is about 10 kilometres from Kuje town but there is no motorable road linking the two towns. During rainy season as we have now, residents of the agrarian community, go through hell, moving from their abode to Kuje, before being able to link up with  any other part of the FCT.  Apart from the issue of non availability of roads, the inhabitants of this serene environment have also become used to perpetual power outage as the only electricity transformer given to them can no long service the increasing population that reside there. As a measure of last resort, the residents have decided to levy each house N25,000, for procurement of additional transformer. This is even when the Kuje Area Council Chairman is said to have assembled a number of transformers at the council secretariat without distributing same to the people .

Of course such other amenities as clean water, government hospitals/clinics or even primary and secondary schools of comparative standard, are non existent there.

In other such neighboring communities as Buzunkure, Dafara,Tukuba, Gawube,Gidankwanu, Tupechi, Gafere, etc,life  is as solitary, poor, nasty  short and brutish, as the classical philosopher of the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes, painted in his work on  the state of nature.But these shortcomings do not bother the political leaders. All they care to think about is that by the first quarter of 2013, there will be another council elections.

Already, a legion of their cronies and hangers-on have lined up, struggling to grab the tickets of the political parties for the forthcoming council polls.  In Kuje, such names as Shaaban[ Ishaku Tete [current secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party-PDP in the area council],Abdullahi D. Galadima[former council parliamentary Speaker],Engr. Hassan Bako, among many others, are slugging it out, for the ticket of the ruling party.

Other parties seem to be bidding their time, perhaps awaiting the fallout of PDP primaries before deciding on who to field. It is being speculated that the party primaries would be a ding dong affair between Shaban and the rest of the aspirants. Shaaban, sources revealed, is the candidate of the incumbent Chairman,Zhin,a factor that may cost him the ticket as there appears to be a gang up against those fronting  for him.

 

In the Abuja Municipal Area Council[AMAC],the story is not too different as the incumbent Chairman, Mr Micah Jiba, is leaving no stone unturned to corner the PDP ticket for 2013 council polls. To show his seriousness, Jiba is said to have embarked on some fence-mending strategic moves aimed at putting himself in good stead for the battle ahead. One of these was made at the Gosa Village last week, where he was said to have given a transformer after the residents had spent  12 months in darkness. The chairman’s offer of a high-powered transformer, which many see as Greek gift had been provided and mounted in the area to show the council’s level of

seriousness.

An indigene of the area, Mr. Sunday Biko, who is the special assistant on inter-governmental affairs to the AMAC chairman, who brought the transformer, was hailed by members of the community at the weekend.

Reacting to the development, Malam Jibrin, a youth in the area, said the community owes Mr. Biko a lot for his effort in ensuring the restoration of light to the village.

“Since December when the former transformer crashed, we have been in darkness with most petty businesses folding up. Mr Biko held several meetings with stakeholders on the issue. Finally, he has delivered. We are grateful to the AMAC chairman for this gesture.

And lady Tokpe who sells refreshment items  in the village also said the village had been  in darkness for months but for the effort of the village leaders and the special adviser.

“We are indeed grateful to the entire Gosa Toge indigenes with whom we have been living in peace and understanding. Special gratitude to the AMAC Chairman, his special adviser and the village head. Now our business can flourish,” Madam Tokpe said.

A source who wouldn’t want to be quoted, told this  reporter, that Micah needs much more of these praise songs to  convince the electorate who in the last two and half years,  have seen his near mediocre performance, that he would  deliver if given a second chance. He has continued to hold several strategic meetings with his campaign group, for this purpose.

Other Area Councils are not left out of this election fever  but the picture will certainly become clearer, as to who  gets what in the next few weeks.

 


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