Thursday, June 3, 2021 11:03 pm
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Bello, has warned that the capital city may become one ‘big mega slum” except adequate funding is provided for its development.
Bello spoke at the second day of the National Public Hearing on Review of the 1999 Constitution organised by the Senate on Thursday in Abuja
According to him, 41 years after creation, Abuja is still a work in progress because of lack of funding.
Further buttressing his point, the Minister noted that as presently constituted, FCT is made of 196 districts, which included 96 districts in the federal capital city itself and others developed in the other area councils.
According to him, since the establishment of the FCT in 1976, only 10 districts have been fully developed with infrastructure, 12 districts partially developed and 70 districts undeveloped.
“The 104 districts in the Area Councils which make up the other part of the FCT are yet to be developed, yet every day, whoever comes to Abuja never goes back because it is home for all,” Bello said.
He also said it was very important to propose that the constitution should recognize and define “an adequate and unhindered funding purse for the federal capital city.
“Because it is a place carved out 41 years ago for all of us and it is home for all of us, where nobody will say he is a citizen or non-citizen.
“But funding is a big challenge and this is so because, up till now, the city, even 41 years after creation, is a work in progress,” the minister said.
The minister further said that if a very viable funding option was not constitutionally provided for the FCT in time to come, “Abuja will just become one mega slum.
“So, it is very important that we take this thing into consideration.
“Abuja, the federal capital city, is still essentially a work in progress and a lot more could have been achieved if and only if a robust and well structured funding arrangement had been established and guaranteed by the constitution.”
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said the country had been consistently reminded that there were flaws in the constitution.
“There is a deep concern among legislators and other stakeholders, just as there are divergent opinions on what we should do to remedy it.”
He noted that agitations were democratic expressions and indications of dissatisfaction with the extant constitution.
Lawan said that the final product of the exercise would be shaped by the voices of citizens as harnessed from the hearings.
He added that regardless, the constitution review alone would not engender a successful democracy without a concomitant shift in attitude and political will.