The much-talked about Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) may have come and gone, but revolutionary impact of its outcome will linger in the minds of people for years to come. This revolutionary impact, which is epitomized in the upstaging of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the centre stage in the FCT, has left chieftains of the party reeling in shock and utter bewildered. It is akin to the devastating blow that fate delivered to them in 2015 general elections.
As the winner, the All Progressive Congress, APC, continues to bask in the euphoria of its epochal victory and the PDP sulks for suddenly finding itself holding the short end of the stick in the political equation of the nation’s capital city, the credit for this unbelievable achievement in ensuring the success of the APC and the peace that attended the conduct of the election should largely go the FCT Minister, Mallam Mohammadu Musa Bello.
Prior to the election, which was initially billed to hold on March 19, but later rescheduled to April 9 by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), apprehension was rife among the populace that considering the tense political atmosphere then prevailing in the territory on account of heightened political activities, the election may suffer stillbirth if nothing concrete was done to douse the tension. While the PDP was digging deeper into the trenches to ensure that it retains its suffocating stranglehold on the territory, APC on the other hand was determined to upturn the applecart.
In a nation, where elections even to the lowliest of offices is seen as a do-or-die affair, the generally smooth and peaceful conduct of the FCT Council Polls, which was engineered by Bello’s fidelity to good governance, is not only commendable, but equally worthy of emulation.
It would be recalled that prior to the commencement of the poll, the minister, who is generally seen as one of the key functionaries of this administration on account of his no-nonsense credentials, convoked a comprehensive meeting of its Security Committee with a view to working out strategies ahead of the election.
At the end of the meeting, it was unanimously resolved that any security breach before, during and after the elections must be decisively dealt with in accordance with the extant laws of the land. Reading his lips and body language, it was easy to discern that the minister was determined to ensure that peace prevailed during the election so much so that habitual trouble makers and those who harboured the criminal intention of instigating violence in order to pave way for rigging of the election got scared and eventually chickened out, hence the relative peace that attended the conduct of the election.
According to political pundits, that the pendulum of victory swung in favour of the APC was one prophecy long foretold. It couldn’t have been otherwise, at least judging from the yearnings of the overwhelming majority of residents of the territory for change, which is largely premised on the minister’s people-oriented policies.
Feelers from almost all the six Area Councils indicate that apart from their implicit confidence in the minister’s ability to turn around the fortunes of the territory for the better, residents of the nation’s capital city were enamoured of Mallam Bello’s lifeline of N1.6bn to area councils to settle two Months salary arrears. This is in addition to the yearnings of the people to align with the party at the centre, the APC. Little wonder, after the dust that trailed the election settled, APC took the PDP to cleaners by clinching five Area Councils namely Abaji, Abuja Municipal, Bwari, Kuje and Kwali, leaving Gwagwalada Area council for the relatively unknown APGA.
At the presentation of Certificate of Returns, COR, to the elected chairmen/councilors, the highly elated minister, who commended INEC for the successful conduct of the election, assured the winners of the determination of his Administration to work with them with a view to taking FCT to the apogee of development.
It is also an open secret that since he took over as the minister of the FCT, Musa Bello has exhibited discernible phases of pro-masses disposition, a development that has upped the ante of acceptability of the APC in the FCT. He has consistently declared at virtually every forum that the development of satellite towns and the Area Councils remains the cardinal focus of his administration. So concerned is the minister about the high prohibitive cost of rent in Abuja, that he assured residents of the territory that the Buhari Administration was working out measures to squarely address the issue.
In another development, the minister, in furtherance of his commitment to making Abuja conducive for living, enjoined a delegation of Rotary International District 9125 to adopt Parks in the FCT for effective maintenance in order to make them conducive for recreation for families.
Similarly, in order to tackle the problem of violation of traffic laws with reckless impunity, Musa Bello recently launched the Abuja Watch Patrol Bikes to ensure that motorists conform strictly to traffic rules and regulations.
And that is not all. In reiterating the commitment of his administration to fast-tracking the infrastructural development of the territory, the minister, who told participants of Course 38 of the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, that in spite of the little progress achieved in that regard so far, a lot still needed to be done if the vision of the founding fathers of Abuja is to be realized. Judging from the foregoing, it is safe to conclude that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the minister is on course to proving bookmakers wrong that executing people-oriented projects in the FCT is a tall but realizable dream.
Edor writes from Abuja