CORRESPONDENT FAVOUR SHUAIB in this report highlights major achievements of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Malam Muhammad Bello and challenges confronting his administration.Logically, attainment of achievements is usually tied to availability of resources. These resources could be financial, material and human.
However, this truism is currently being positively challenged by events and activities taking place in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory, FCT where the current Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello is evidently recording so much tangible achievements with so little of resources at his disposal.
Since assumption of office barely a year and half ago, precisely Wednesday, November 11 2015, Malam Bello has remained steadfast and committed to physical development of the Territory and staff training, despite the current economic constraints.Truly, the current FCT Minister has continued to keep to his words, which he made on the day of assumption having identified “Professional failures”.
Malam Bello said and I quote: “I do hope that if we harness all your capabilities, I hope that we will be able to achieve the mandate of Mr. President. Our success can easily be seen and our failure will also be seen. And our failure will affect Mr. President.”
Obviously aware that he will not be Minister forever, Bello said and I quote: “as the 16th Minister, the 17th Minister will surely sit on this seat”, hence the need for urgency. The Muhammad Bello-led FCT Administration has already recorded milestone achievements as can be seen, particularly in infrastructural provision, staff capacity building, regular payment of staff salaries and allowances as well as contractors, traffic management, sanitation, health and education.
Some of the ongoing major road projects across the Territory include the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Expressway. There is huge construction work along this road around Bill Clinton Drive Interchange that leads into the Airport; and then the stretch from the Centenary Centre site beyond Kuje Interchange; as well as the road network around the City Gate.More so, the road network from Finance Quarters in Wuye, stretching round the Abuja National Stadium, through the new Area 1 Interchange, by United Nations Building, connecting Games Village, are seriously been fast-tracked and some sections will soon be completed.Another important road network which is also fast undergoing construction is the remaining section of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Expressway within the Central Business District. This expressway commences at the Nigeria Police Force, through the Central Bank of Nigeria Head Quarters, gets to Ship House (Ministry of Defence building) and goes further down to UN Building, connecting the Area 1 Interchange.
On the Abuja-Nyanya axis, in addition to similar road constructions such as the ones by Power House, near the popular AYA junction and another at A.A. Rano Filling Station, Malam Bello recently inaugurated a taskforce to decongest this stretch to make it easy for its users to have unhindered movement at all times.Staff training is another area the Bello-led FCT Administration has done very well, to which the staff attest, most of whom confessing that they had never had such training opportunities since employment into the Administration. Out of about 4000 workforce, over 3000 have already benefited from an ongoing general training exercise, which the FCTA former Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye promised would benefit the entire staff.
In many states, succeeding governments bitterly complained about fresh employments and promotions made at the tail-end of preceding governments, the FCT Administration too had similar experience, as general staff promotion exercise especially, and some employment were done. However, Malam Bello did not engage in lamentation and bulk-passing, rather his Administration looked inwards, exhibiting high financial prudence and integrity by spending only when necessary.The result of this commendable initiative is the prompt payment of contractors, staff wages, as well as the unprecedented bailing-out of the Area Councils to assist them attend to payment of salary arrears, among several others.This fact was recently attested to by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio when he described Bello as “a performing Minister” who has continued to surprise him (Sen. Akpabio) with delivery of projects in the nation’s capital at the time of recession.
Increasingly, the cleaning and greening of the City has improved, just as , the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) through the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) have upped the cleaning and greening of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Road corridor of the nation’s capital city, in addition to other initiatives aimed at improving the sanitary outlook of the Territory. To ensure accelerated sanitation and beautification of the Airport Road corridor, which is one of the major entry points into the capital city, the FCT Administration encouraged major businesses on the axis to clean and green sections of the road as part of their social responsibility service to the Territory.
Taking newsmen on inspection tour of the road, the Acting Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Hajya Safiya Umar, noted that the Malam Bello’s-led FCTA intends to make the Airport Road corridor a lasting sightseeing attraction zone.
She disclosed that in addition to the involvement of companies with business interest along the road, the FCT Administration has engaged the services of a private firm to plant grass and flowers on both flanks of the road corridor not having business edifices around. According to her, the exercise is in line with the FCT Minister’s promise to halt the derailing sanitary outlook of the Territory, by promoting the culture of cleaning and greening the streets of the capital city.
Similarly, Acting Director of AEPB, Olanipekun Oluwatoyin said the initiative is part of measures at ensuring sustenance of best sanitation standard in the FCT. She revealed that the AEPB officials have adopted innovative ways of clearing dirt and other environmental nuisances around major markets, AirPort Road and Onex expressway respectively, which is a clear indication that FCTA is not resting on its bid to ensure the sustenance of innovations in waste management in FCT. In particular, the AEPB boss stated that, to ensure for prompt collection and evacuation of refuse, for the first time, high capacity mobile waste container trucks were purchased and stationed at strategic places within the Territory, which has helped to reduce dumping of wastes along the streets. She added that the FCTA is working in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on ‘integrated solid waste management project’ in Life Camp, which is expected to be replicated across the FCT, in order to encourage sorting of waste in the Territory.
Commenting on issues of funding, Oluwatoyin assured that there would be improved funding of environmental activities, given that the nation is getting out of economic recession, even as she revealed increased allowances for AEPB officials. Stressing the need to sensitize the public on the ongoing initiative aimed at ensuring a cleaner and greener capital city, she enjoined residents to always keep their environment clean, by taking advantage of available waste bins and collection centres, as part of their contribution to effectively rid the city of all environmental nuisances.On education, the leadership of the Bello- led FCTA on assumption of office spelt out agenda for the Education Secretariat. Perhaps, more than many other states in the country, the FCT is faced with the challenge of over stretched facilities not just in the education sector but other sector as well.Education however, seems to be the most visible considering that it has direct impact on the everyday lives of the populace. Overstretched facilities means more pupils and student in the class rooms, over used classrooms furniture, utilities and more workload for teaching staff. Thus the minister re-strategizes to close the gap. This has not been particularly easy considering the current precarious economic situation in the country.
With the limited fund at his disposal, Bello prioritized procurement needs with emphasis placed on the provision of infrastructure, teachers training and school learning and research materials.In the period under review a total sum of N2,712,233,867.27 was paid for completed and for on- going projects which among others include the following: Construction of 221 classrooms, 22 blocks of 4 compartment toilets ,7 Science/intro-tech laboratories, two fences and gate houses , 3 boreholes, 1 administrative block,1 library and 1 volleyball court in various primary, junior and senior secondary schools to mention but a few.Acknowledging that the challenge of provision of adequate infrastructure will always be there due to the increasing demand for educational services, a more pragmatic approach taken by the Bello- led FCTA is the establishment of new schools. Despite its cost intensive nature, he has been able to establish the following new schools; GSTC Kwali, Government Model Secondary School (GMSS) Jikwoi and Government Day Secondary School Abaji and Government Secondary School Mpapr which moved to its permanent site .Combined ,these schools are catering for the educational needs of 5000 students.
Another very significant achievement is the robust collaboration with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for the establishment of a Nigeria/Korea Model School worth $15million. This translates to over N1billion ploughed into FCT education sector. Teachers for these schools have been selected through a rigorous process and some have even gone off to Korea for further training. On completion, this school has the potential of being one of the best schools in the country. Malam Bello though not without challenge and room for improvement has also planted a mile stone in the health sector of the nation’s capital. Despite myriad of challenges, FCTA owned secondary health facilities were able to treat a total of 942,665 patients for different kinds of major and minor ailments in 2016 alone. Within the same period, its hospitals successfully carried out different categories of surgeries, totaling 13, 984. Acting Secretary for Health and Human Services Secretariat, Mrs. Alice Achu-Odey made this disclosure to journalists during a mid-term performance report of the Secretariat.
According to her, the secretariat has achieved: “Completion and operationalization of Zuba Cottage hospital strategically located along Lokoja-Kaduna expressway to cater for accident emergency; Computerization of five FCTA hospitals (Maitama, Asokoro, Kubwa, Bwari and Gwarinpa)”, as well as secured “full accreditation from the West African College of Physicians for postgraduate Residency Training in Family Medicine for the Maitama, Wuse and Asokoro hospitals to enhance capacity building and improve quality of healthcare not only in the FCT but Nigeria”. Other achievements include: “upgrading of Radiology Units in Gwarinpa, Asokoro, Wuse, Kubwa and Maitama by procuring and installing CT Scan Monogram Fluoroscopy, Digital X-Ray high end Ultra Sound Scan (USS) with cardiac activity; attaining 100 percent success in Part 1 Fellowship Examinations of the West African Postgraduate Medical College through its ‘home grown’ Residency Training programme, producing 10 Senior Registrars in the process”.
The Secretariat also registered 7632 fresh enrolees in its health insurance scheme and revalidated 9323 principal enrolees; registered 72 private health care providers; shut down 66 for non-compliance with regulatory guidelines; and established 265 HIV sites across the six Councils.However, the FCT health sector is confronted with some challenges. Some of the many impediments of the Secretariat, as decried by Odey include over dependence on donor support for HIV/AIDS response, with lack of commitment to HIV/AIDS at the Area Councils and inadequate HIV/AIDS test kits. Other challenges are inadequate manpower; lack of utility vehicles for field workers, overcrowded office, with old and dilapidated furniture as well as non- transfer of 203 Midwives and Nurses from NPHCDA to ( MSS and SURE-P) to FCTA.
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