By Rogers Edor Ochela
Since he was plucked, in a manner of speaking, from the National Hajj Commission and invested with the back-breaking task of overseeing the affairs of the nation’s capital city, Abuja, Mohammed Musa Bello, through admirable husbandry of scarce sources, is gradually redefining the art of governance in the territory. Though, things are not working perfectly like the Swiss wristwatch, the truth is that the Minister is doing everything humanly possible and within the permissible limits of available resources to positively alter the equation in the territory.
That Nigeria is experiencing economic recession, the worst of its kind since independence is no longer news. The reason for this current recession is not far-fetched—fiscal irresponsibility coupled with unprecedented thievery of public resources by past successive administrations preceding the incumbent Buhari administration. If the past administrations had been a little bit frugal with resources, the nation would have averted the prevailing crippling recession that has rendered virtually everything prostrate.
Even under this dispensation, several state/local governments, federal ministries and parastatals that have refused to imbibe the spirit of frugality, are economically asphyxiating, a development that has made it practically impossible for them to deliver the much-needed democracy dividends to the people, with several of them finding it extremely difficult to pay salaries.
It is gladdening to note that the FCT Minister realized early enough that if prudence is not applied to the little resources trickling in to the coffers of FCT, it will be practically impossible for him to discharge the mandate that his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), has entrusted into his laps and worse still, he stands the risk of being stoned on the streets should he fail to deliver on the promises he made to the people.
So, through a combination of prioritization of values and professional judgment, Bello has gradually been facilitating an appreciable improvement in service delivery in the territory much to the discomfiture of those who do not wish him well.
If critics find this conclusion on the almost three-year administration of Bello Administration rather unsettling and even regard it as a backhanded attempt to curry favour from the minister, it is understandable. In a nation where cynicism has been elevated into an art and giving an achiever a pat on the back is equated to sycophancy, those who tend to disagree with me on this favourable judgment that I have passed on the minister deserves nothing but understanding.
All over the world, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that development or service delivery is not contingent on the cornucopia or surfeit of resources available to the office holder officer, but prudent administration of such resources.
It is within this context that Bello’s accomplishments so far in the midst of critical financial challenges should be appreciated. It is equally important to stress here that the minister and his team at the FCTA, through abiding fidelity to the regime of fiscal responsibility, are gradually repositioning the FCT with a view to meeting the ever-increasing needs of the territory and the interests of the people, including the staff of FCTA. At least, to the best of their ability!
Even in the face of several competing needs in the midst of dwindling allocation from the federation account, Bello and his lieutenants, including the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Chinyeaka Ohaa, has not allowed the unfortunate development to deter them from their focus of improving the fortunes of the territory.
Those who have been following the trajectory of his life, both public and private, aver that Bello, a political appointee and protégé of President Muhammadu Buhari is on the same page with his principal in his strong aversion for corruption and anything that is either directly or remotely connected to it.
The minister has been severally pilloried, ostensibly because the hitherto illegal free goodies that sycophants and hungers-on enjoy from the treasury are no longer available unlike what was obtainable under the past wasteful and corrupt administrations. This is understandable considering Nigerians’ propensity for extravagant living. For his refusal to allow some people have a bite of the cake that is meant to develop the territory, Bello must be barbecued.
Because of the enormous competing needs begging for his attention and the limited resources available, the minister, most times, has to draw up strict programmes of action in order of priority, with people-oriented ones coming tops. Though, the impact of some of the things he has done might not be immediately felt or noticed now since they require a long period of gestation, but with time, residents of the territory will begin to experience them as they begin to bear fruits.
While some public officials with unlimited access to a large quantum of money have been finding it difficult to deliver on their mandate, Bello, in spite of the paralyzing effects of dwindling resources, is arguably working assiduously to leave an indelible imprint on the canvass of history.
Dear reader, this piece is not about the achievements of the minister per se, it is only about how he and his team have used fiscal discipline as a handmaiden to navigate their way through the labyrinth of series of challenges to put FCTA on the path of socio-economic cum political sustainability, which only sticklers for fiscal responsibility can attain.
Through a courageous display of sense of responsibility, the minister has so far put his professional expertise at the services of the Administration. And it is also quite encouraging the way and manner he has been responding to criticisms of his administrations, believing that constructive criticisms trailing some of his actions are simply a wake-up call to apply the brakes where necessary in order to realize his noble objectives for the territory. As he soldiers on in this last lap of the Buhari Administration, he should adopt carrot and stick policy with a view to breasting the tape of victory without any encumbrance.
It is however sad to note that even with this impressive concern for the welfare of the people, a few spoilsports have refused to see any redeeming feature in what his Administration is doing to put the FCTA on the path of accelerated development. The good news is that it is glaring even to a drooling imbecile that if not for fiscal prudence, the Administration would not have been able to deliver what it has been able to achieve so far. The credit, of course, should go to Bello, who unlike his counterparts in other ministries, has painfully decided to vacate his personal interests to attain the present level of accomplishments. For a better appreciation of the minister, I have resolved to exhaustively dwell on his achievements in my next write-up. This captain aboard the FCT ship deserves the support of all and sundry!
Ochela is based in Abuja and can be reached via email@example.com