By Rabiu Garba
On assumption of office as the substantive President after the demise of his boss, President UmaruYar’Adua, Dr. GoodluckEbele Jonathan having taken a critical look at the state of the nation, decided that the best way to take Nigeria out of the woods was to evolve an agenda as a handmaiden—the Transformation Agenda. Its evolution was necessitated by the urgent need to correct the flaws in the country’s drive for development where there is absence of long-term perspective, and lack of continuity, consistency and commitment (3Cs) to agreed policies. The culminating effect of these has been growth and development of the Nigerian economy without a concomitant improvement in the overall welfare of Nigerian citizens. In evolving this Agenda, the President believes that if a suitable environment is provided, Nigerians have the ability to transform the country through productive activities.
With this agenda as a compass to find direction for the nation’s economy, all Presidential aides are expected to key into it to achieve the much desired results. Juxtaposing the implementation of this Agenda viz-a-viz individual minister’s contribution to its success so far, one may not be too far from the truth to say that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Bala Mohammed’s role has been quite outstanding in all ramifications.
As a faithful loyalist of the President, the minister has been working assiduously to give the Agenda a positive face, a development that has enhanced the image of the President both in Nigeria and in the comity of nations. The effect is such that pundits have concluded that the President’s victory in the 2015 election would be hinged on the overall success of the Agenda.
My conclusions on this issue should not be misconstrued to mean that other ministers have not contributed to the success of the Agenda. Far from it! The fact is that if the individual contributions of all the ministers to the general success nay acceptability of the Transformation is measured, that of the Bala Mohammed towers above that of other ministers. That is just the truth.
It has been proven over time that appointment to manage any portfolio in the public realm is a call to patriotic service, which involves vacating all personal goals, dreams and activities for the attainment of the collective objective. For the period one invests his personality into this endeavour, family life, business interest and other personal considerations are relegated to the background. These sacrifices provide the undercurrent for responsible leadership. Arguably, Bala, like his boss at the Villa, has been providing such leadership in the FCT. Devoid of politics, both of them, through the instrumentality of Transformation Agenda have been able to making Nigerians feel the impact of their stewardship.
To strengthen the arm of the Agenda, the minister has completion of the expansion of modern 10-lane multiple carriage super highways: the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (Airport Road) Expressway; the Outer Northern (Murtala Mohammed) Expressway otherwise known as the Zuba/Kubwa/City Centre Highway as well as the dualization of the Nyanya Expressway.
In addition, several districts have been opened up for development through provision of massive infrastructural facilities. His quest to provide infrastructural facilities for the FCT resulted in the historic flag-off of development of three new districts, just as the total development of Katampe District to be executed through Private Public Partnership (PPP) and estimated at N61,194,747,645.00, with Kagini 1 District costing N52,609,879,284.47, while Maitama Extension District will gulp N137,454,626,929.00.
To further give teeth to his quest to modernize the nation’s capital city, Bala’s administration entered into series of agreements with Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), which is a special agency of the federal government set up to boost investment in infrastructure by the private sector through the principle of PPP initiative.
As a matter of fact, the single biggest private sector investment is the Abuja Millennium City currently being handled by a consortium, Nigeria Centenary City Plc valued at $18billion. Another of the minister’s audacious policy is the land swap project valued at $4.5bn, which is geared towards opening up 10 new districts for development simultaneously. In addition, work is currently going on at six districts namely Jahi, Wuye, Guzape, Maitama Extension (Goodluck Jonathan Estate), Kagini and Katampe.
The first phase of the light rail and Abuja-Kaduna railway projects embarked upon by the Bala Mohammed administration, which is expected to ferry 700,000 passengers daily is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2015.
Equally determined to make the satellite towns in Abuja experience real development, the minister re-established FCT Satellite Towns Development Agency (STDA). This is with a view to making it an all inclusive city in line with the dreams of its founding fathers.
Even in the area of water supply, the administration just commissioned Tanks 1 and 6 with 40,000 cubic centimeters storage capacity.
Recently, Bala despite his bright chances of becoming the next governor of Bauchi State jettisoned his plan to quit the Federal cabinet together with some of his ministerial colleagues at the last minute, in deference to the high esteem the President holds him. The reasons are not far-fetched: It is because the President wants him to remain to complete his pet transformative multi-billion dollar projects such as the Abuja Centenary City ($18bn); Jabi Lake Resort ($3bn); Abuja City Centre ($2.7bn); World Trade Centre ($1.2bn); Aerotropolis City ($2.5bn); Abuja Industrial Zone project ($3bn) and Land swap, which has the richest man and woman in Africa, AlikoDangote and FolorunshoAlakija respectively participating.
Another of such worthy project is the 2nd phase of Abuja Railway project connecting the ever-busy Nyanya-Mararaba axis valued at $750m, which contract was signed recently by the minister.
At this juncture, it is necessary to unequivocally state here that for chroniclers of history who desire to do justice to the success of the Transformation Agenda that will be the utmost decider for President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election, that extra attribute of wisdom which demands fairness, thoroughness, sincerity of purpose and a good application of the contending issues within the unique circumstances as epitomized by the pivotal role of Bala Mohammed, need to be applied. Bala has indeed given the Agenda a positive face and this requires commendation from all and sundry.
Rabiu Garba is a media consultant based in Abuja.