AT A PROFESSIONAL gathering recently, someone asked rather humorously if anyone among us know the name of the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. He was not done. He also asked if there was anyone among us who could identify the minister by putting his name to any of the pictures he had in his smart phone gallery. Though that was an aside of the subject matter of our gathering, the somewhat joke provided some comic relief to all. But then there was noticeable seriousness in the comments by some few of us. Put together, alongside the reality on ground, the FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello may never get it right; he may find delivering on his mandate as Captain of the Federal Capital Territory Administration a very, very tall unrealisable dream unless he can move the human mountains and institutions that are consciously or unconsciously working to slow down the wheel of progress designed by the founders of the territory. Like the rather honest intentions of President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister Bello no doubt, must be interested in leaving the federal capital city better than he met it. And like Buhari, Bello has very many self-serving (mis)advisers around him. They are always around where power flows from; from the domestic front to the official beat. Some call them bootlickers, no-do- gooders, sycophants, praise singers and hawks. But to me, they constitute the little demons that appear friendly and harmless whose sole agenda is to reap every available apple in the orchard employing the influence they garner by reason of their closeness to the man in power. Not too long ago, Minister Bello whose office by the way perhaps holds the record of the minister that has had most adverse media reports, attempted to confront some of the social ills that have increasingly bedevilled the FCT. During an unscheduled visit to Lugbe along the Airport road in the FCT, Minister Bello sternly directed the management of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB and the FCT Task Force on Environment to as a matter of urgency stop hawkers using pedestrian bridges in the FCT for their activities be they commercial or otherwise. He further warned against hawking and related activities on the pedestrian bridges even as he called for enforcement Minister Bello did not also mince words by warning AEPB and the Task Force that his office will not entertain further excuses for lapses from them. During that same historic visit, the minister also ordered AEPB and the Task Force to arrest the menace of herdsmen grazing in the FCT; describing the latter as bizarre. Abuja, like other capitals Like other national capital cities in the world, the FCT is today’s attraction to the flotsam and jetsam of the society amidst the few better-off Nigerians and other nationals. The nagging survival needs of the people who have for long considered themselves forgotten by government no doubt is a factor in this regard. Alongside other inexplicable factors, it is no news that the FCT has its own share of distractions that slow down development unless tackled head-on; save for the fact that like in everything Nigerian, there are always sentiments that are played up in trying to identify and tackle these destructive distractions. One thing I am very sure Minister Bello now knows is the fact that beggars of different shades, shapes, nationalities and agenda are here. I am not talking about the itinerant vendors of waste disposal services or water among others. I mean, beggars who invade the FCT under the guise of being some Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs but whose true agenda are now being exposed with the return of peace and security to the nation’s north east that recorded huge numbers of IDPs in the heat of the fast dwindling insurgency problems. Yes, Minister Bello is doing well to conquer the issue of beggars and suppliers of beggars in the FCT. But he may not win the war. The reason is simple; some of his AEPB officials may be benefitting from the nauseating business. If not, how come that the same AEPB officials that would raid the innocent Mama Buka whose little business thrives in front of her house carting away her basin- full of hot amala and ewedu soup plus tens of pieces of kpomo would not see the regular beggars on the National Stadium-City Gate stretch especially on Mondays when vehicular traffic on that axis is heavy during the morning rush hour? What about the ones that would always chorus their pleas for support for the welfare of one of them who in most of their outings seemingly suffers some indescribable ailments? What about the ones on wheel chairs supposedly born with some deformity which his helpers play up to obtain monetary support from road users?
Has the minister been told about AEPB’s somewhat embarrassing raid of motorcyclists in parts of Abuja? Though I see a lot of goodness in this, it has never worked because no sooner than the motorcyclists are picked that they are released to continue their trade. Many hold that some AEPB staff own many of the motorcycles plying the roads in parts of the FCT illegally. And come to think of it, there is no commercial motorcycle in Abuja that is registered. At least, none of them operates with registered number plates. I guess Minister Bello can infer the security implications here. Beside AEPB officials, there is another FCT agency whose officials the minister must be told conduct themselves in such questionable manner that one is left to wonder if they were really trained for their job. Usually dirty in their white and black uniform and always having menacingly intimidating looks, the Vehicle Inspection Officers in the FCT do not really help in upping the goodwill the minister really needs even as I fear that they may have not been meeting set targets of revenue collection. Simply put, the FCT VIO people as they truly are cannot be mistaken for members of the Nigeria Police Force. But their harassment of road users is perhaps, legendary. Very uncouth in their approach to vehicle owners and impliedly arrogant, they can be a driver’s nightmare; and unjustifiably so. But like the AEPB officials, they are usually the first to seek your favour when you seek to procure their services officially. But that never removes from the fact that they want to be seen as tough as the police and may be, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC operatives which they will never be. Very feeble-minded, meddlesome and weak, they choose to lay ambush for unsuspecting motor drivers at bad sports or sharp bends on the roads including federal roads in the FCT. As lazy as ever, they ambush vehicle owners at the sports where they would be very vulnerable to their selfish antics. The reason is simple; every oncoming vehicle must slow down at such sports for the officials to mob the driver. If you doubt it, try FHA flyover on Airport road or market days at Karmo or Gwosa. And by the way, who inspects the tens of thousands of motorcycles operating okada business in the suburbs of the FCT? With no number plates; no licences and uncouth behaviour, motorcyclists constitute menace in the FCT. But that is no thanks to their colleagues in the nuisance game, the VIOs who methinks needs to join forces with similar agencies to register the motorcycles and regulate the conduct of operators here. Afterall, needed IGR is being allowed to run away here. In whose interest? Unfortunately, the conduct of AEPB and FCT VIOs are not in the 100 per cent interest of the set agenda of the minister. Before long, Minister Bello will realise that the beggars atop our pedestrian bridges, the hawkers on some streets of metropolitan Abuja, the unregistered and unregulated Okada operators in the FCT as well as solicitors for monetary support for supposedly sick Nigerians stupidly showcased by supposed helpers on major traffic hold-up spots are either supplied by or endorsed by some officials of these agencies and/or their big bosses back in their big offices. That is why many of them loathe any form of reorganisation. Minster Bello may not know; his last effort in this direction had the colour of success, but there was a good measure of resistance. Who knows, the fallouts could be the sabotage of his agenda that residents of the FCT now see all over. FOOTNOTE: Monday morning, a herd of cow with their herdsmen were relaxed grazing on the slopes of the popular Dantata bridge along FCT’s major gateway, Airport road. It takes saboteurs in relevant agency in Minister Bello’s to permit this just days after his riot act to them. Can Minister Bello win this war?


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