By: Wisdom Acka
Chairmen of the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory have been urged to leave quarrel and work together with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) for the interest of the people.
FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, who made this call in a meeting with the Chairmen in his office on Thursday, noted that there was no need for the Councils and the FCTA to engage in a needless and unhealthy quarrel and competition.
Wike tasked them to also look into other areas of their responsibilities such as environmental sanitation, road construction, among others, aside revenue collection in contentious areas.
“Constitutionally, it’s the responsibility of Local Government (Area Councils) to collect certain category of revenue, but what most of us talk about is always revenue collection,” he noted.
“You also forget that we pay you people 10 percent every month, if we pay that why fight us? We will not agree for the city to be dirty,” he emphasized.
“Constitution is constitution but reality is reality. There’s no need for us to quarrel over this issue…..we can arrange it, we get an account, you collect and pay us some percentage”, he suggested.
As a one time Local Government Chairman, Wike stated that he was aware of their challenges and would support them, adding: “We cannot achieve without support of the Area Councils. We must, therefore, collaborate to work. We are not competing.”
Stating that he was in the FCT to work for the interest of the people and support President Bola Tinubu’s Agenda, the Minister explained that he was not in the FCT to work for party interest.
He harped on the need for financial probity; saying that the problem of insufficient funds was a general one. “If you cannot manage N10, you cannot manage N20”, he said.
The Minister also talked on other issues raised by the Chairmen, includung that of mining, which they said has become a subject of insecurity.
Wike promised the that he would contact his Solid Minerals’ counterpart with a view to regulating the mining activities to enable generation of money; warning that the Chairmen must use the money and work for the people when it comes.
He urged them to organize surveillance mechanisms to combat insecurity arising from the artisanal mining.
On security, the Minister tasked the Chairmen to always share information, even as he bemoaned kidnapping of 19 persons in one Area Council; saying it was an embarrassment, and promise that the FCT Commissioner of Police and the Department of State Security (DSS) would act accordingly.
The Minister hinted at the introduction of property tax; stressing that “People living in Abuja have to pay, they are all big people in Maitama, Wuse, Asokoro, and everywhere. They must pay property tax.”
He also mulled the possibility to development of Area Council roads one after another, saying that if it were done so, roads at the grassroots would’ve been in a better shape.
According to him, the current FCTA under him would involve the Chairmen in Land allocation and development in their domains to enable then checkmate happenings there.
Earlier, ALGON Chairman, FCT Chapter, and Kwali Area Council Chairman, Danladi Chiya, who spoke on behalf the Chairmen, listed most of the challenges the Councils were facing, appealing to the Minister for assistance.
Some of the problems include inadequate funding, insecurity, lack of development at the satellite towns and challenges of public transportation.
Others include deduction at source for payment of primary school teachers and allocation of land within their domains without their inputs.
While Wike promised to involve them in the allocation of land, he told them payment of primary school teachers through UBE was to ensure the money was used for the purpose it was meant; adding that the Chairmen were still in charge since they recommended appointment of those manning Universal Basic Education.