By Usman Shuaibu
The Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) is one of the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and is arguably the most strategic of them all on account of its central location. AMAC is both the headquarters of an Area Council, the seat of FCT administration as well as the government of Nigeria.
The other Area Councils of the FCT are Gwagwalada, Kwali, Abaji, Kuje and Bwari. The six Area Councils were created following the formation of the FCT in 1976 from parts of the states of the old Kwara, Niger, Kaduna and Plateau States with the bulk of landmass carved out of Niger State.
As of today, the population of AMAC or the metro area of Abuja in 2021 is put at 3,464,000, a 5.67% increase from 2020 figure of 3,278,000, representing a 5.91% increase from 2019. In 2019, the population of the Abuja Metro was 3,095,000, a 6.03% increase from 2018.
By the 2006 census, the city of Abuja had a population of 776,298 making it one of the ten most populous cities in Nigeria (placing eighth as of 2006). According to the United Nations, Abuja grew by 139.7% between 2000 and 2010, making it the fastest growing city in the world. As of 2015, the city was experiencing an annual growth of at least 35%, retaining its position as the fastest-growing city on the African continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world. As of 2016, the metropolitan area of Abuja (AMAC) was estimated at six million persons, placing it behind only Lagos as the most populous metro area in Nigeria.
In the face of these variables lies the huge ask of delivering democracy dividends to the people of AMAC as the leading Area Council of the FCT. This expectation is against the background of dwindling revenue coupled with the tension between the AMAC and the Federal Capital Administration as to who is the rightul collector of revenues from businesses operating within the Municipal Area Council. This tension has no doubt hampered the delivery of democracy dividends to the people of AMAC at some point which gave rise to repeated court cases over the right to collection of tenement rates.
The current Chairman of AMAC, Hon Abdullahi Adamu, popularly called Candido will not shy away from defending the constitutional right of AMAC to collect tenement rates. He informed newsmen that both lower and higher courts have given judgment in facour of AMAC, and as long as he remains the council Chairman, that legal victory must be defended, hence his insistence on AMAC, and not the FCT administration, as the collector of tenement rates within AMAC.
While interacting with newsmen in Abuja last week, Candido said the Defence of the right of AMAC is sacrosanct for him without any battle with the FCT administration. Candido however broke away from the conservative trend of committing all leadership energies on building infrastructure without commensurate focus of human capital development and entrepreneurship drive in AMAC. In this regard, he said he refocused energies on economic development programmes which he “successfully institutionalized and projected to outlive his administration.”
Some of those initiatives include the AMAC Investment and Property Development Company (IPDC), the AMAC Marshals, the AMAC Microfinance Bank, the AMAC Community Radio and the AMAC Gifted and Innovation Centre.
The IPDC, for instance, is a subsidiary company conceived by Candido to diversify the economic base of AMAC, generate more revenue and establish partnership with corporate organisations in furtherance of investment inerests. He said the company is licensed and has started business and that markets have been constructed under the company.
The AMAC Marshals is a community policing initiative to complement the efforts of the regular security outfits, and according to Candido, it was conceived to to boost internally generated revenue of AMAC.
The AMAC Microfinance bank he said was established and licensed by the Central Bank or Nigeria to carryout microfinance businesses within AMAC. It is expected to economically empower micro, small and medium entrepreneurs as well as other low income earners by providing them with soft loans.
He said the Gifted and Innovation Centre initiated by his administration is to provide platform for ICT learning and development, especially of children from rural communities.