By Stanley Onyekwere
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has proposed for the creation of an FCT Infrastructure Development Fund, as a guaranteed funding arrangement, to ensure adequate and unhindered funding for the rapid development of the Territory.
Bello noted that with the rate of population growth, without a robust and well-structured funding arrangement, for the provision of and maintenance of infrastructure, the FCT might ultimately be birthing an urban slum.
He made this point yesterday, in his presentation at the ongoing National Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, in Abuja.
He explained that proposal was essential considering the fact that Abuja, is home to an ever increasing number of Nigerians who have made the Territory their homes.
According to him, of the 196 districts that make up the FCT, only 10 districts have been fully developed with infrastructure, 12 districts partially developed with 70 districts within the Federal Capital City undeveloped.
“We propose that a definitive constitutional provision be made to ensure adequate and unhindered funding of the FCT through the creation of an FCT Infrastructure Development Fund, OR through a 1st line charge on the funds of the Federation or some other acceptable arrangement”, he stressed.
Similarly, the Minister also made submissions to the Committee where he prayed for amendments to certain sections of the constitution, which will amongst others bring governance closer to the people.
While seeking amendment to SECTION 7 of the constitution, the Minister proposed the inclusion of a new sub section immediately after Section 7(5) to read as follows: A: (6) The functions to be conferred by law upon the Area Councils may include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Constitution and, where so conferred, shall be performed outside the Federal Capital City (FCC) and such areas as may be designated from time to time by the Minister in charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
He explained justification for the submission, is that “Section 7 (5) as presently constituted gives room for duplicity of roles, conflicts and mismatches in planning, provision of infrastructure and service delivery in the FCT.
He added that the proposed amendment, is aimed at addressing the aforementioned problems and achieving harmony between the FCTA and the Area Councils.
According to him, the Area Councils are entitled to their Constitutional mandates. However, they should do that outside the Federal Capital City (FCC) and, as a matter of expediency, collaborate with the FCT Administration, to ensure harmony in the development of infrastructure and provision of amenities.
He noted that collaboration between the FCT Administration and the Area Councils, is necessary because the Federal Capital Territory is a planned modern project with a centralized planning system, cohesive infrastructural coordinates and interconnected engineering designs.
In proposing amendments to section 301 of the Constitution, the Minister submitted that Section 301(c) to read: “References to persons, offices and authorities of a State were references to the persons, offices, and authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration with like status, designations, and powers, respectively.
“The proposed amendment will enable the Federal Capital Territory functionaries to assume the statutory roles assigned to certain Government functionaries under the Federal Capital Territory applicable laws as contained in the Schedule of the Federal Capital Territory Act”.
Equally, in his submission, the FCT Minister also proposed an amendment to the First Schedule Part 2 of the Constitution which is “Amend Area Council Headquarters for Abuja Municipal from Garki to a town outside the Federal Capital City.