In this interview with a team of journalists, the Executive Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Hon. Micah Jiba, who is also the chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), reveals how the council is working together with traditional rulers, to assist the police tackle the prevailing insecurity in the council. He also touches on other sundry issues. Stanley Onyekwere was there. Excerpts:
As the AMAC chairman, you are in your second tenure, and recently you marked one year in office, what would be your take on the country’s 15th anniversary of uninterrupted democracy?
Despite the current security challenges facing us as a people, we should still thank God for everything, that’s why told people that we should celebrate this year’s Democracy Day very well just as we have done in the past years. Like we have asked in the past years, what we are asking now is for God to give us more wisdom and understanding to entrench peace and unity in the country, so as to make progress as a people.
Given the prevailing security challenges in FCT, how are you working with traditional rulers in AMAC to effectively tackle the situation?
There is no doubt that the issue of security is one of the fundamental challenges that we are facing as a people, not only in the FCT but the country at large. It is unfortunate that a lot of these issues have happened within AMAC, but I have that belief that God will intervene and arrest the insecurity in the land. But, we have been meeting with traditional rulers in the council, to address the situation, on a monthly basis; we call it Peace and Security meeting, in which the four graded chiefs in AMAC are automatic members. Also, all the 24 DPOs in AMAC are equally automatic members. We meet at every end of the month, where we deliberate on how to tackle the issue of insecurity in the council. And we are not only limiting the process of finding solution to the problem there, as we ensure that we go down to the street, meeting our village heads, district heads and other stakeholders, to make sure that we involved them in the process. We tell them that if they happen to discover any negative thing at their respective domains, they should quickly report the nearest police station. They should ensure they report to the appropriate officers, as security should be everyone’s business. In fact, our chiefs have been very supportive, with regards to the issue of insecurity in the council, to make sure that we collectively tackle the menace. We used to be in the number one position in terms of security, but with the way insecurity threat is coming closer, we are now in 3rd position. So it (the meeting) is no longer going to be a monthly affair, but it is going to be a weekly affair. But, in general, when it comes to the issue of security in anywhere, our number security is God. We can only try our best, but the remaining aspects, we leave to God, to handle for us. What we are seeing today in Nigeria is something that we are going its end very soon.
Also, the concern for a number of people on the streets of Abuja city centre especially those in satellite towns like Nyanya, Karu and Jikowyi within AMAC have been on the area of sanitation in the council. Is there any specific effort by the Council leadership to address these three areas of interest to the residents?Coming on board in 2010, as the Executive chairman of AMAC, the first priority in terms of executing developmental projects in the council was the issue of sanitation, because it deals directly with wellbeing of humans. As far back as 2008 and 2009, then if you go to areas like Karu, Jikowyi and Nyanya, you would have discovered that heaps of refuse were at the middle of the roads there. But as soon as I came in, I said there should be an end to the menace. There are available compactor machines procured by the council, to ease waste evacuation system in AMAC. So I made sure that we procured and put these machines in order, for sustainable improved sanitation in the council. I’m proud to say that my administration is doing very well on the issue of sanitation. Even the agency in charge of sanitation in the FCT, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) will bear witness that AMAC is doing very well in this area. But the problem with sanitation is that it is a routine project-an everyday activity. For instance, it is like when you provide a bore hole in Damagaza, to solve the problem of water in the area, and you beat your chest and say that you have completed the solution to the problem there. Or is it like when you provide electrification in Damagaza, and say you have completed tackling darkness in the area; no. Because, when it comes to issue of sanitation, it is a case of you evacuating a refuse from a place today, and tomorrow you return and see it again.
I was opportune to be in Kenya and South Africa on official visit, and by the special grace of God, we are no longer going to waste these refuse that we are being generated in the council, as we are going to turn them to wealth, by making it to be useful to our farmers, not only in AMAC but FCT as a whole. To this end, we are coming up with a system whereby refuse (waste) will become useful to the people of the council and the entire FCT.
But, what role does the Satellite Towns Development Agency (STDA) play in tackling sanitation in satellite towns in FCT?
Interestingly, the STDA and the authorities of the area councils in the FCT, work together, in order to tackle issues affecting the wellbeing of people in the satellite towns. In fact, they (STDA) are like our supervising officers, and where they discover that we (council authorities) could not handle challenges there, the Agency quickly come up, to see how they would assist us to achieve our aim.
For instance, the problem we are facing Nyanya is that it is the entire people of the area, but those in Mararaba, in Nasarawa state-they are impacting negative on the issue of sanitation in Nyanya community.
This is because Mararaba has no any design at all; talk less of making provision for proper waste disposal points, where the people are supposed to drop the refuse they generate. The total population in Mararaba alone is like that of the FCT. But given their proximity to Nyanya, maybe they have seen an avenue, whereby they evacuate and drop refuse in Nyanya, because they know that we are up and doing in evacuating waste in the council.
In your capacity as the chairman of FCT chapter of Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON), what would be your advice to your colleagues on delivering democratic dividends to the people?
My colleagues should know that what is expected of them is to give qualitative and responsive leadership to the people that have given them their mandate. Because being entrusted with the peoples’ mandate is not by mistake; they have agreed and placed their trust on you, as they have seen you as somebody (a leader), who can represent them, that’s why they have given you their mandate, so it is now the responsibility of people like us (politicians) to provide qualitative leadership to our people. Forget about executing projects or assisting people (financially or otherwise), but what kind of behaviour are you exhibiting towards your people, for them to be able to say yes, the person that they have given their mandate have not disappointed them.I’m encouraging and charging us (Council Chairmen) to keep on doing good things for the entire people of the FCT, as our people have given us the mandate because they believe that we are their leaders, who would represent them very well. We should not shy away from our responsibilities.
And for residents in AMAC and the FCT in general, they should not deviate from the cooperation and support that they have been giving to both this FCT administration and its six Area Councils. They should not give gap in giving us their usual support, and I want to assure the residents of FCT that we would never disappoint them.