Factors That May Slow Wike Down as FCT Minister and Challenges Ahead

Factors That May Slow Wike Down as FCT Minister and Challenges Ahead

He hit the ground running minutes after he was sworn in and assigned portfolio as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister. Mr. Nyesom Wike left the Presidential Villa, seat of government and held his inaugural press conference where he explained areas of concentration in the short, medium and long term. Within days, both the staff

He hit the ground running minutes after he was sworn in and assigned portfolio as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister. Mr. Nyesom Wike left the Presidential Villa, seat of government and held his inaugural press conference where he explained areas of concentration in the short, medium and long term. Within days, both the staff of the Federal Capital Development Authority and residents knew there is a new sheriff in town.

Mr. Wike is bold, blunt and unequivocal in his interactions. At some times, very combative and drums it into the ears of whoever cares to listen that he is in charge.

The administration of the FCT

Abuja as the federal capital territory is a creation of Section 297 of the Nigerian constitution, which states that “there shall be a Federal Capital Territory Abuja…”

The constitution further states that the capital territory shall be treated as if it were a state. Therefore, the president and vice president shall be seen as the governor and deputy governor, the National Assembly has legislative power over the FCT, while the Federal Executive Council (FEC) serves as its State Executive Council (SEC).

In addition, Section 302 of the constitution gives the president the prerogative to appoint anyone as the minister of the FCT if he so chooses, or act as the minister if he prefers not to delegate the role.

According to Section 302 :”The President may, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by section 147 of this Constitution, appoint for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja a Minister who shall exercise such powers and perform such functions as may be delegated to him by the President, from time to time,”

Some administrative restraints in administering the city.

But unlike the state House of Assembly which is largely under the control of state governors, the FCT committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate will have oversight functions over the new minister because the budget of the territory is approved by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

Similarly, Mr Wike will be administering the FCT at the pleasure of the president, who has the power to sack any minister. Some years ago, as governor of Rivers State, Mr Wike was known for his hard stance and straight talking. He was accused of demolishing buildings belonging to his political opponents. He will now need the support of the president to be able to take drastic actions in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

At the inaugural press conference, Mr. Wike highlighted the sorry state the nation’s capital has been in the last eight years. As he assumed office as the 17th FCT minister, Mr Wike will be confronted by challenges ranging from dark streets, bad roads, perennial flooding and poor transportation system to deteriorating security and infrastructure.

The capital city, with a population of over three million, more than those of some states, hosts the federal government and many strategic establishments and institutions.

Mr. Wike becomes the first southern Nigerian to occupy that position since 1979. The only other Southerner to have occupied the position, Mr. Ajose Adeogun, did so between 1976 and 1979 when the new capital city was still a project on paper. Mr Adeogun supervised the project from Lagos, the former federal capital.

Eight – years of stagnation

Many residents believe that the capital city experienced stagnation under his predecessor, Alhaji Muhammed Bello, the longest-serving minister of the FCT. He held the position throughout the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari from 2015 to 2023.

Under Alhaji Bello, who is from Adamawa State, the territory struggled to keep street lights on, traffic lights barely worked, urban mass transit was nonexistent, and slums grew while abandoned projects littered the territory. Everything practically came to a standstill.

The territory, many say, had its glorious days under Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who was minister between 2003 and 2007. Mallam El-Rufai, who later became the governor of Kaduna State, brought sanity to physical development and transportation in Abuja.

Emerging Strong Opposition

Some residents are not comfortable with the threats from the Minister that he intends to revamp and restore the master plan of the territory. They recalled what happened under the Mallam El-Rufai’s administration. And to confirm their fears, hours after a building collapsed along Lagos street, Garki, Abuja, the Minister rolled out bulldozers and brought down buildings without permits and those considered unfit for human habitation at Garki village.

The execution of the threat, perhaps,pushed concerned residents to take their fears to the highest political office holder in the territory,the Senator representing them at the Senate.

Mrs Ireti Kingibe, Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),read the feelings and fears of her constituents at a press conference and to bring down their blood pressure, she warned the FCT Minister, to desist from working without the supervision of the National Assembly.

Senator Kingibe said Wike does not have the executive powers but must operate within the constitutional frameworks of the country’s legislative arm.

She said: “You also have to remember that the minister of the FCT – I’m not sure we have had a former governor as minister, I think we have had one. Some [former] governors may think that as FCT minister… the minister does not have executive powers. He works hand-in-hand with the National Assembly and the president to administer FCT.”

The Senator also faulted the recent appointment and inauguration of the mandate secretaries of the FCTA by Wike, saying they were supposed to be screened by federal lawmakers.

According to her, the National Assembly would serve the legislative duties to the FCTA as the state Houses of Assembly does to the state governments, adding that as state assemblies were to the states, so was the FCTA to the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly has the duties to screen them as the state houses of assembly usually screen the state commissioners before they would be sworn in,” she stated.

Senator Kingibe said Wike was new to the FCT and therefore, needed to be guided to discharge his duties as the FCT Minister.

Hear her :“You must remember that the minister and I have different goals. I was elected by the people, so, I’m answerable to you the people of the FCT, he is not. But working together, I hope we can merge our interests.

“I cannot force myself on the minister. You have to remember that and the senate is in recess. I am a lawmaker. I have not been around. So, they are not approving anything, you cannot get approval from a house that is not sitting.

“I have been engrossed in my case and the minister is new. We have not met. We spoke for the first time today (Tuesday) when he called to congratulate me and we assured each other that we would work together”, she stressed.

Speaking on threats of demolitions in the FCT, Senator Kingibe said:“For one thing, I’m not telling you that there would not be demolitions. There are many problems within the FCT. Look at the flooding taking place in FCT, why? Houses are being built on flood channels, permission are being given to people to build estates on flood plains. There are so many things that we need to fix.”

Citing the building on the green areas and water ways, using the Trademore estate as an example, the senator said such would not be allowed to continue, but added that the welfare and interest of the people in the FCT would be protected.

She said the Abuja indigenes were aware of the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that the FCT cannot enjoy a special status. “After the matter has been disposed of at the Supreme Court and if the same position is maintained, then we will agitate for a governor, three senators and other status of a state, but for now, let the matter remain as it is,” she added.

Although she is on the same page with the Minister on the need to restore sanity in the territory, the Senator and the Minister may not have the best of relationship as the Senator would want Mr. Wike who is in a hurry to deliver his mandate to follow due process and protocol which may slow down the steps of the Minister.

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Latest Posts

Top Authors

Most Commented

Featured Videos