Chris Steven, Abuja
Muhammed Bello, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja says members of the House of Representatives Committee on FCT should stop comparing his tenure with that of his predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai in terms of resources to work with.
“Federal Capital City (FCC) is a creation of the federal government, it is still a work-in-progress. A lot people speak about the days of my classmate and friend, El-Rufai,” the Minister said while appearing before the Committee on Thursday to defend the FCT administration’s 2021 budget.
But for those of you who have lived in this city, Abuja of 2005, it is just 20 per cent of what it is today, both in terms of geographical expansion, as well as population, as well as vehicular movement, as well as traffic, as well as everything.”
He said there was the money back then when his predecessor was the Minister, noting that he and his team deserve commendation for the maximum use of the available resources to achieve much.
“So, sometimes, let us not just keep on hanging on the last history, and in those days, money was there. We have to all come to terms that to the fact that this is a work in progress and we have to deploy a tremendous amount of resources at a go -in full,” Bello said.
“Up till now, we have now been able to finish some aspect of Phase 2, Mabushi is part of it and now already we are planning for Phase 5, simply because of population explosion. We have to put resources in this city, some of which will be through our own IGR.”
The minister said there was a need to make special arrangements to fund the development of critical Infrastructure in Abuja.
He explained that the FCT administration’s budget has been hovering between N29 billion and N35 billion for the past three years, adding that considering the projects executed so far, himself and his team deserved to be commended.
Bello said the issue of development in FCT had been raised by a number of persons but insisted that he and his team should be applauded for having done tremendously within the amount of resources.
He explained that the Bill Clinton Expressway was constructed when he became the minister, as well as five bridges in the Airport Express Way.
“For members and I think that applies to almost all of you who have been residents of Abuja, starting from the time when the current administration came into being – sometime May 2015.
“Just starting from the airport, you will remember that from the airport, which is called the Clinton Expressway up to the main airport Expressway. I’m sure you could remember at that time, more than five bridges were not completed, but remember that everybody has to meander and that bridge that you see on Bill Clinton Express Way was not there.
“These were all done by my colleagues and I within the last four to five years. Even the Bill Clinton Expressway, I’m sure members will remember we had to re-do the entire road.”
“With all due humility and modesty I believe my colleagues and team here have done tremendously well within the amount of resource for those of you that are veterans in this place, five years ago, the federal allocation which we are discussing today for the FCT was N108 billion. Now what are we talking about, we are looking at N29 billion. And it has been hovering between N29 and 35 billion for the last three years,” Bello added.