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By Sunday Onye, senior correspondent

  • Hold inaugural press briefing, spelling out agenda of new administration

Barrister Nyesom Wike and Dr. Mariya Mahmud today 21st August, 2023 assumed office as the 17th Minister and the 12th Minister of state of the Federal Capital Territory respectively shortly after their inauguration by Mr President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the presidential villa Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Addressing the press in his office, Barrister Wike, who was welcomed by a mammoth crowd at the Area 11 office complex of the FCT Administration, pledged to make Abuja safe for all Nigerians, saying that he has the full support of Mr President to bring immediate solution to the challenges facing the nation’s capital.

The FCT Minister said: “The President has given us the marching order, we must bring FCT back to what it is supposed to be and we are willing and we have the capacity to do that. That is what we have come to tell members of the media. It is not going to be business as usual.”

The Minister continued: “So many people have complained that FCT has lost focus; so many people have complained that this is not the FCT they know, this is not the FCT of the founding fathers; it is not the FCT that they thought will compete with other cities of the world. And now is the time we must show that the Federl Capital Territory Abuja should be one of the cities that will compete with other cities of the world”.

The new Minister who solicited the support of the media, said as a matter of priority the four areas of security, sanitation, street lighting and revenue generation in the FCT Awould be the among the short-term deliverables as mandated by the President.

He said: “We cannot do it alone. We need the support of everybody, particularly the media. So, the first point we are doing today is to let the media know, this is what we want to do in the short time, this is what we want to do in the medium and long term. We cannot do everything within a short period. In terms of physical infrastructure, that will be a medium and long term. But there are things that are expected within the short term that we must do”.

He lamented the poor street lighting of the FCT, which he said contributed greatly to insecurity in the territory, calling on security agencies in the FCT to work with all stakeholders towards mitigating the threats posed by insecurity in the nation’s capital. Barr. Wike assured that the FCTA will provide all the necessary support for them to carry out their duties well.

“So, first of all, the issue of security must be tackled. We are ready to provide the necessary logistics for all the security agencies to do their work. This is not my first time of having meetings with security agencies. I’ve done that when I was Governor of a State. So, I know. I’m not going to be told. These are things we know. These are things we are doing because we know the problems.

He added: “We cannot go and identify the criminals. It is their duty. Our own duty is to provide them the necessary tools. And when I provide the necessary tools, I don’t want any excuses because you have requested for the tools you want to use to work and it has been provided. So, what we want is result. We can no longer tolerate a situation where by people turn random places to market and motor parks and in the process breeding criminals and criminalities”.

On the issue of sanitation, the Minister stressed that the FCT must be clean while the masterplan must be adhered to. He said any building contravening the masterplan would be demolished, while adding that the era of land racketeering was over.

The FCT Minister equally reemphasized the ban on cattle rearing within the city centre, saying his administration will dialogue with herdsmen in the FCT to bring lasting solution to the issue.

Barr. Wike also said that land speculation would no longer be tolerated as lands allocated and not developed after a period of time would be revoked and re-allocated for immediate development, adding that uncompleted buildings which have been run over by weeds and have become hideout for criminals would be taken over by government as part of efforts to secure the FCT.

He said: “All those who have left their old houses, shanties for criminals, you say you are building a house for 15 years, uncompleted building and now criminals have taken over the place, government will take it back. All those uncompleted buildings defacing the city, particularly Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse”.

Speaking on the need for more infrastructural development in the FCT, the Minister said that the option of internal revenue generation through ground rent payments would be pursued, adding that no one would be spared in the payment of ground rent.

He said: “Some people have said Abuja is not doing this, Abuja is not doing that. Those of you also have refused to pay your ground rent, non-payment of ground rent is a breach of covenant. I don’t need to write you to pay. You know that as a tenant, at the end of the month, you are supposed to pay so and so amount and you say the landlord has not written to me. No, it doesn’t make sense because Abuja needs money too and part of the source of revenue is ground rent. So, if you have not paid, be it bank, anywhere, sorry. I will not be tired to revoke and I’m going to do it”.

The Minister also said that alternative transportation to motorcycles and tricycle in the FCC would be provided to make movement in the FCC and from the suburbs to the FCC easier for commuters, stressing that mass transit buses and the Abuja Light Rail would be made functional again.

Barr. Wike assured that he would be a hands-on Minister and urged the media to work with him to achieve Mr President’s mandate for the FCT.

Present at the press briefing was the Minister of state FCT, Dr. Mariya Mahmud, FCTA Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olusade Adesola, ES FCDA, Engr. Shehu Hadi Ahmed and other senior officials of the FCTA.