Significance of Wike as FCT minister – Part 2


……Significance of Wike as FCT minister

Now that the the Supreme Court has confirmed the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s President from May 29, 2023 to May 29, 2027, we have a responsibility to take back our humanity and our country we almost lost to the complex politics of our controversial electoral justice system. What is more urgent, we need to advise the president’s men and women to cut short their celebration and return to governance of the disappearing value of the national currency, energy price crisis and imminent food insecurity. It is urgent. The time of celebration should be over by this weekend because there are weightier matters of the law of survival. Wait a minute, I hope the duty bearers realised too at the weekend that most of the more than two hundred million people of Nigeria weren’t rejoicing with them. And they should decode why.

So, let’s begin to face the brass tacks of governance. And I would like to deconstruct the points at issue by returning to what I usually call my organic beat, Abuja, where I think something significant has been happening even if we aren’t noticing because of the election petitions distractions at the apex court. I mean to draw the attention of the nation to the fact that the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike is living up to the billing I deconstructed when I commented here on the ‘Significance of Wike As FCT Minister on Sunday August 20, 2023. Let’s recall some excerpts from the article then:

‘…And so the most precious gift the Generals’ rule donated to the(ir) Federal Republic of the Nigerian Army as General Chris Ali succinctly puts it in his classic on Nigeria, Abuja has been there as “their capital” until this month and last week when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took two significant steps to restore confidence in the national capital Hurricane Murtala sold to us 47 years ago as a “symbol of our unity”. And here is the thing, since inception of the administration of the capital, Nyesom Wike would be the very first Minister of the Capital of the Federation from southern part of the country. Before you shout, what of the late Ajose Adeogun (1976-1979, here is the fact file: the late Adeogun (who died on Saturday July 1, 2023 at 96) was widely reported as the first Minister of FCT. He wasn’t.

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He was actually designated as Minister of Special Duties with additional responsibility to supervise Abuja to from 15B Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos as there was no structure yet on the 8,000 square kilometre FCT then. He was operating from a Field Base in Suleja in Niger State, a border town to the FCT. All other Ministers appointed since then from the South – from Mark Okoye 1980-1984) through Professor Ikejiani Clark to Jumoke Richard Akinjide have been Ministers of State. What’s worse, President Muhammadu Buhari who didn’t care a hoot about federal character in all his appointments for eight years desecrated the Territory as his last two ministers of FCT hail from the North (Adamawa and Kogi states).  In other words, the first organic Minister of FCT was John Jatau Kadiya (1979-1982).

And so there is a sense in which we can report that President Tinubu has broken a 47 years old jinx. Just as he did the other day when he obeyed a 2018 Court of Appeal’s declarative judgment that an indigene,(original inhabitant) of the Federal Capital Territory should be appointed as a member of the Federal Executive Council (a Minister). The Indigene will be sworn in tomorrow. That was how in a twinkling of an eye, President Tinubu restored confidence of Nigerians including the original inhabitants (of Abuja) in the Capital of the Federation. We will no longer call it “Their Capital”. It is now “Our Capital”. In the same vein, the Niger Delta people who have been lamenting absence of their people in the mainstream political leadership and bureaucracy of the Capital despite alleged huge allocations from oil resources from Niger Delta spent so far on the capital project, can now relax their agitation for inclusion in the political leadership and bureaucracy of the FCT. Which reinforces the ancient word that only justice can guarantee peace and stability in any system.

It will be recalled that I had also then advised that the FCT Minister should not be distracted by the convoluted political and administrative structure that he had inherited. He was advised to act boldly: some of my words then:

‘…And so as President Tinubu has begun restoration of stakeholder confidence in the Capital of the Federation, Wike should be bold enough to study the present convoluted political and administrative structure of the Federal Capital Territory. Most of the structures of governance are neither state nor federal. Some of us have written so much to sanitise, de-ethnicise and neutralise the Capital of the Federation to reflect federal and global character, but there has been too much of ‘anyhowness’ and indeed the core North in it. This northernisation agenda began even while the Chairman of the Panel, who recommended the site to General Murtala, Justice Timothy Akinola Aguda was still alive. The governance absurdity had then led the iconic Aguda to write an Op-Ed article, which the resourceful Editor of The Guardian then Mr Emeka Izeze considered a front-page lead, titled, ‘My Regret About Abuja’. Justice Aguda died since September 5, 2001. How would he have felt were he alive up and until May 29, 2015, to May 29 2023 when President Buhari disrespected the letter and spirit of the constitution, which makes Abuja a classic case of how to respect federal character in terms of federal and presidential appointments. Throughout his eight-year tenure, the Minister of the FCT and the Executive Secretary of the FCDA are from the North. The insensitive Buhari never listed to any criticisms about his destructive bigotry, ethno-centricism and parochialism nurtured by provincialism.

As of May 28, 2023, the Minister of the FCT for eight years who hails from Adamawa State was made to appoint four Executive Secretaries of the FCDA from Niger State, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Gombe States. The current Executive Secretary of the FCDA hails from Gombe State. The grave implication of the widespread northernisation policy of the political structure is that as it often happens here, bigotry begets more bigotry: almost 92% of the political heads (mandate secretaries) and heads of agencies of the FCT are of northern extraction. That is one critical challenge that Wike will inherit the morning after tomorrow when he is sworn in. He should hold aloft the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it affects the Federal Capital Territory. Besides, he should study the Mission statement Murtala advertised to the nation 47 years ago. He should study all the extant laws and restructure the FCT to reflect our national character. Abuja isn’t like any other state. The nebulous provision in the Constitution that Abuja should be regarded “as if it were one of the States of the Federation” should not be read politically as politicians and their lawyers are deploying it as a weapon to win presidential election petitions at the moment. Abuja should be run as our ‘symbol of national unity’ as the Founding Fathers clearly declared to the nation 47 year ago. That is the Capital of the Federation that has been destined to lead the black race with pride and dignity’.

This review is therefore a sense in which we can claim that Wike is living up to the significance of his appointment as Minister of the Unity Capital, Abuja. And so good people and owners of Abuja, the Nigerian people, should continue to encourage him (Wike) to administer the national capital in public interest. It is our capital. It isn’t their capital.

Within three months, Wike has galvanised extant laws and policies to run the Territory as a sustainable National Capital where all the over 200 million owners can feel free as citizens. Besides, Wike has shunned political opportunism and correctness to ensure that even the heads of the three arms of government and all the heads of the institutions and agencies of government resident in the capital aren’t above the laws of the federation governing the urban and regional planning segments of the government. What is more important, he has raised consciousness about the expediency of raking in remarkable revenue through an aspect of property tax, the ground rent to raise enough revenue to develop the national capital into a Smart City. Within two weeks of publishing names of defaulters, billions of naira have been statutorily paid into the FCT account and that can be accessed to sustain and reconstruct the capital that previous administrations almost destroyed. He has obtained permission to be excused from this blight called Treasury Single Account (TSA, which has strangulated development of capital projects in the Territory. The President who is the Governor of the FCT, according to the Constitution, has removed that hurdle for FCT to prosper.

Apart from strategic commitment to preservation, (not restoration) of the Master Plan, which Malam Nasir el-Rufai remarkably began from 2004-2007 as FCT Minister, Wike has also established the FCT Civil Service Commission, legalised since 2018. Recall that this column touched off the question a few weeks ago with a question: ‘What happened to FCT Civil Service Commission? 17, 2003…

It is gratifying to note that the Hurricane Wike has responded to the question by complying with the law signed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo since 2018. Public Service Journalism is remarkable when public officers and institutions of governance respond to issues raised in the news immediately and follow-ups trigger public policy reform orientation. Wike has set machinery in motion to set up structures for the FCT Civil Service Commission. He has announced the approval by the president. And FCT civil servants who are already celebrating freedom from the TSA stranglehold are also smarting from the bruises of the no-status- civil service in FCT. Now they can rise to the summit of any cadres in the federal public service since the organic structure, the Civil service Commission is there as in the federal, state and other structures of governance. Now a Head of the Civil Service of the Federation can emerge from the FCT Civil Service as in any of the states of the Federation, according to our constitution.

*Let’s continue next week with the dynamism that Hurricane Wike has brought to bear on governance of the FCT even as we disregard the gripes of a few disgruntled elements who have continued to criticise the systemic revival of Hurricane Wike on grounds of religion and ethnicity. That is a distraction President Tinubu and Wike should ignore. Reason: It is our capital, after all, not theirs…
Culled from The Guardian

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