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Reintroduction of Land Swap initiative, the economic remedy at this time

Jul, 2021 | By Stella Ojeme | ||

Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the resumption of Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Land Swap initiative introduced during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration. The initiative, worth about N1 trillion under the previous dispensation, was designed to remedy the infrastructure deficit in FCT by swapping land with private investors who would in turn provide the necessary infrastructure for massive development.

FEC approved the resumption following a memo presented to the Council by FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello who indicated that some amendments were made to the original form of the initiative by establishing a legal framework to protect all parties. This development is undoubtedly very essential this time as the country battles with dwindling financial resources, heightening the imperative for every legitimate revenue source to be tapped for the benefit of the citizenry.

It is no news that paucity of funds and non-performing budgets have grossly affected development in all facets, hence, the resumption of the Land Swap scheme at this time is a necessary platform and machinery to champion the Public-Private Programme (PPP) initiated by government to enhance private sector participation in nation building. It is a common fact that lack of adequate capital is a major investment challenge and the reason private sector participation in development is absolutely unsatisfactory; therefore, the Land Swap scheme would be a form of bailout for investors.

Now, the module is land in exchange for infrastructure, an excellent move towards achieving corporate social responsibility; a valuable corporate system which is a way of giving back to the society and which regrettably is largely absent in the country's polity. The benefit of this initiative is holistic; infrastructural deficit especially at the grassroots would be addressed. Also is provision of roads, rural water, electricity, housing and various other relevant amenities within the FCT. It will fast-track the developmental processes required to further push FCT towards achieving its pride of place in socio-economic advancement.

There is no doubt that this will lead to meeting the yearnings and aspirations of residents and visitors. Adequate infrastructure has its value chain advantages; rural road networks and links will be made available, providing accessible roads to farms. This will pave the way for easy transportation of farm produce, enhance marketing and ensure food security. Needless to expound the essence of rural water and electricity as these are unquestionable necessities for societal wellbeing and economic development.

The result will be healthier and wealthier residents as sanitation will considerably improve. Also, medium and small scale enterprises will boom leading to increase in Gross Domestic Product and more revenue for the Administration since the tax base will phenomenally increase. It is also hoped that the initiative would reduce the overall housing deficit within FCT and with the facilitation of the legal framework, the implementation of the scheme this time will not raise eyebrows as was the case with the past regime that led to its suspension.

But for this laudable initiative to meet expectations, the FCTA should ensure that necessary mechanisms are provided for its actualization. Only tested and proven investors who are ready to meet their own side of the bargain should be engaged. Any intended investor, no matter whom, should be properly investigated and monitored as unserious and unscrupulous individuals and groups are not needed in this all important venture, at least not at this crucial time. The Administration should also ensure that FCT communities are carried along and compensations made adequately to avoid any form of occurrence that might undermine this initiative.

The need for the decentralization of policies and developmental initiatives cannot be over-emphasized. Decongestion of the City centre will ease the over-stretching of basic amenities and infrastructure, thereby improving their lifespan and service delivery. The Land Swap initiative is conceived with the intention to address this dire need in FCT and so must be supported by all.

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