A Breath of Fresh Hope

The appointment of Bala Mohammed, a senator, as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory restored hope to a city in dire need of transformation

Abuja-Airport-Expressway-2

Abuja Airport Expressway

When President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, a senator from Bauchi State, had undoubtedly called attention to his patriotism and love for the country. At a time that less patriotic politicians were playing regional politics and displaying shameful disdain for the welfare of the country, Senator Mohammed, with other colleagues in the Senate, stood to be counted among those committed to the country. He was an outspoken supporter of the national call for Jonathan, the then vice president, to assume office as acting president of the country. History has vindicated him and his patriotic former colleagues in the National Assembly.

Wuye-Ultra-Modern-Market,-Abuja

Wuye Ultra-Modern Market, Abuja

Thus, his appointment as Minister of the FCT in April 2010 raised hope for the restoration of a city that was literally grinding to a halt due to years of neglect. Unlike other ministers whose job schedules focus on only a sector, the FCT is like a state that has many sectors – transport, land, engineering services, health, education, water and other departments. Thus, to achieve success, the FCT minister must have the planning and execution skills of successful state executives.

Mohammed, true to expectations, hit the ground running. After a few months of consultations and planning with the various departments, he set to work. Imbued with the vision to change the face of the federal capital in line with the Transformation Agenda of the President Jonathan administration and turn it into a world-class city, Mohammed began the journey to revamp the city.

As a prudent and far-sighted administrator, Mohammed dedicated himself to improving the structures he met on ground and establishment of new ones for the development of the city. Within his first year in office, the minister did what many thought was impossible. He mobilised resources for the opening up of five new districts in the city – Katampe, Kagini, Jahi, Wuye and Maitama Extension.

Since the creation of the city some 36 years ago, only five districts had been created. They are Mabushi, Gwarimpa, Kado, Durumi and Okanje districts. The new districts have now brought the number of districts to 10. The minister’s action was rightly motivated by the inspiration provided by President Jonathan, and an awareness of the growing population of the city and the need for decent housing.

He committed himself to opening up the city and providing world-class infrastructure that would be the pride of all Nigerians and residents of the city. The creation of the new districts, apart from opening up the city for more housing, provided an estimated 100,000 jobs, thereby helping to reduce youth unemployment and crime in the city.

In the spirit of opening up the city for more affordable housing, and in view of dwindling resources available for capital projects, the minister embarked on collaboration with the private sector to get his projects off the ground. The new districts are examples of such collaborative effort of the minister.

In a situation where the FCT allocation from the federal budget is sometimes less than N50 billion, exploring other avenues to boost internally generated revenue became an attractive option for the administration. Through transparent and frugal leadership, the minister has been able to do what some of his predecessors were unable to accomplish.

At no time has such rapid transformation of the city occurred than in the last two years. Several residential housing estates, roads and ultra-modern markets have sprung up in various parts of the city thereby reducing the housing deficit in the federal capital. The most recent is Wuye Ultra-Modern Market which was recently opened for business by President Jonathan.

But nothing shows better the transformation of the city than the two major entry roads to the city. They are the Kubwa and the Airport Expressway which have been turned into three-lane dual carriageways. Although the contracts were awarded long before Mohammed came to the scene, it is a credit to his leadership acumen that the roads were done and completed under him in less than two years into his tenure.

So impressed was President Jonathan about his performance as FCT Minister that he was listed among the 154 Nigerians that were awarded national honours in 2012. The minister was awarded Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.

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