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FCT Residents should Expect more Clean ups, Demolitions-Attah

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Ikahro Attah is the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to FCT Minister and a journalist. In this interview with Laide Akinboade, he speaks on the renewed demolition exercise of illegal structures in Abuja and other efforts of FCT Administration to uphold Abuja as a modern city

Give us the brief history of how the renewed vigour in cleaning up Abuja and enforcement of its Master plan all began again?

My history of enforcement is something I never planned or expected.

It started on September  18, 2019. I was one of the journalists covering the State House, I had approached the FCT Minister Malam Muhammad Bello,  for questions on gridlock on Nyanya -Keffi Road and he told me to come and see him on the 19th of September, I went there to get exclusive interview.
 
To my shock the Minister announced, he wanted to form a traffic management team, I saw men in uniform  around his office. He said he want to form the team to address problem of traffic in Abuja – Keffi Road and I was standing by he said, ”You journalist, you are the chairman of the task force on the Abuja FCT Traffic management team.
Many thanks to those who had to encourage me, I know the job could have been done without me. But after the success recorded in Abuja -Keffi
Road, the Minister had to move me to Dutse-Alhaji Road.
Then when Covid-19 came I was so happy because I thought I was going to rest, because the stress of traffic work was so heavy. But during COVID-19 pandemic, the burden of enforcement was so heavy that we had to do heavy enforcement work. Shortly after that the appointment came as Senior Special Assistant to FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and  Enforcement.

How long have you been on enforcement?

I have been doing enforcement work since September 19th, 2019, about three years ago.   

What prompted you to accept the appointment from Minister?

What prompted me was the series of activities. Largely the former FCT Minister, Bala Muhammad, had always told me and other journalists that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to be only Senior Assistant, Media alone, or Chief Press Secretary but as a journalist we should be ready to do anything, we should be ready to do anything outside our purview. But the day the Minister announced my appointment I was shocked but he already believed in me with all the  men in uniform that were there . And when we went to see the former FCT Police commander, Bala Ciroma, he encouraged me and told me I can do the job. Even the former FCT Permanent Secretary, Ohaa also said I can do the job, it seems as if all the people around me believe I can do the job but I am the only person that was a bit worried and wondering how can I metamorphose from being a journalist to an enforcement officer. From that point since everyone believed in me, I had to believe in myself very quickly.
I went out and I discovered we were getting results and getting good results . Although there are knocks here and there but that is normal in enforcement.

How many clean ups have you done in the last three years? 

I don’t have the precise number. We done traffic management team where we had to clean up Nyanya Market area, cleanup Dutse Alhaji Market area and Maitama Market in Kubwa area.
Later we went for Covid-19 enforcement even within we removed some night clubs, we removed some “Gida drama” and we came to some areas where we had to do demolition. It is what we do everyday. I don’t think I can count. They are so many.

On the clean up, what more should Abuja residents expect?

They should expect more clean ups everywhere. Kuje is an area we are coming, “pantakers,” Apo, Dutse Market, is very much there, Nyanya straight to Karchi, the Airport Road is one area that is very dear to the Minister of FCT. 

The entire Airport Road is very dear to the Minister and he has asked us to constantly go there especially some of the indigenous villages to remove squatters there, we have done Zamani Village but we have not finished. We have babanbola, (cart pushing waste collectors), we have them across the city, we need to smoke them out and removed them. They are enormous.

What are your challenges?

Our major challenges are sometimes attacks. We come under attacks  and sometimes our team members are injured. I can always tell them in enforcement if you are not under attack then you are not doing enforcement. If people don’t confront you, you are not doing enforcement, may be you are just playing around. There is the issue of personnel. We need more personnel , because you must overwhelm the crowd. The FCTA is funding us now but if they can do more funding it will allow us do very much more .
The main issue here is the fact that we get knocks from people. But it is normal and we are getting use to them. The knocks beat us into shape.

In all your clean ups, which one will its memory linger in you for a long time?

The one attack I will never forget is the one at Luigu. The one that would stay with me for a long time is the Mpape clean up because Mpape people were almost 100 per cent certain that we cannot have access to their community. I really find it worrisome they said during el-Rufai, Mpape didn’t witness a single bulldozer activity. There was so much talk about Mpape and it will stay very long in me because we were able to dimistify that belief that government never comes to Mpape with machine to do demolition but we came. Someone once told me what government  cannot do, is what government is not willing to do.  Government can do so much if they want to do.

What message do you have for people buying, building, selling illegal land?

If you build or buy illegal land from chiefs and others, it would be removed, even if it is not by us but by others in future. There is certainty that someone who will come and do the purging.  Even if we don’t do it someone will do it

As SSA on Enforcement to the Minister, what is your vision? 

I have keyed into the vision of FCT Minister. We will rid the city of illegality, squatters settlements and get babanbola out of Abuja because they are wrecking havoc.

What do you think can be done to permanently rid Abuja of illegalities in erection of structures?

The permanent thing to be done to stop illegality is for the work to be done every day. There is no permanent solution even in the United States, China, you must permanently be doing the job every day. There is no permanent solution to get rid of illegality. The removal of illegality has to be permanent. Remove them so that the people would have it in mind that enforcement is on and then you kill illegality.

Where you are looking for a permanent solution and sit in the office and be pushing file out, will not work. The permanent solution is for you to tackle it everyday.

As the Rainy Season kicks in, how do you intend to prevent flooding again it this year in the FCT?

We have removed some structures and we are going to be removing more structures. We will be engaging more the FCT Minister, the FCDA Executive Secretary, Engr. Shehu Hadi, Director Development Control, Muktar Galadima, we are all discussing where we can use both planning solution like demolition, restoring the master plan as well as engineering solution by creating more pathway for water to pass in districts like Lokogoma, Trademore Estate and so many others. So that we can get urban water to quickly flow out so that it won’t flood houses or wreck havoc in the communities.

Traffic on Nyanya -Keffi Road, what is the way out? We have been working. The first thing we did was to remove Nyanya Market off the main road. Those days on Wednesdays which is the market day, nobody going to that axis can walk freely, everyone closes from the office on time because the road would be clogged but now we have pushed the market away from the main road.

On a market day now, the clogging has reduced. We are hoping that soon we will be able to push all of them from the road and free the entire market stretch there and no more trading in that area, while the Ministry of Works is working on the road expansion. There is also the problem of roadside trading that we are still removing, sadly the issue of Abacha Road entry point where some people are selling. We have told the Nassarawa State government to get them off. Once Abacha Road blocks, it stretches almost to Nyanya Bridge, that shows we are heavily connected.

What advise do you have concerning illegalities in Abuja?

Abuja is a project and it is a big project for everyone of us and we all must key in and be committed. Residents must not allow illegalities, they shouldn’t encourage “babanbola.” Let us follow the rules.

What is it about “babanbola”(cart pushing waste collectors)?We are going after them massively because what should have been a beautiful business of waste collection and recycling has turned to be very dangerous criminals business, where criminals hide in the dumps, they go with daggers, knife, and all dangerous weapons.

We are going after them strongly, they must purge themselves. The criminal element must leave. Any community where “babanbola” gather, there is massive stealing and people are being attacked daily. Those are the ones we are targeting and we are going to purge them out.

Environment

Prolonged Public Holidays Come with Negative Economic Effects on Citizens – Anambra Residents

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Anambra residents have slammed the additional day approved by the Federal Government for the Muslim faithful to celebrate the 2024 Eid-Ei-Fitr, saying this will have negative effects on the economy.

The Federal government had early declared April 9 and 10 as Muslim-Ummah for the successful completion of a month’s spiritual rejuvenation.

Reports says that residents of Anambra capital city believe that the additional day which they did not plan for will result in economic hardship to the citizenry.

Most respondents believe that people had planned to resume their economic activities instead of wasting their time staying at home doing nothing..

Former Chairman, Awka Chamber of Commerce, Chief Felly Akosa, described the additional day to the two days approved earlier as “unfair to the economy of the country as people were unprepared for the additional day.

Akosa said that although it is right for the Muslim faithful to celebrate their holiday after a month-long fasting, the process needs to be carefully planned for in place of the additional rest day which could inhibit business activities.

Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, National Vice President of Igbo Apex Social Cultural body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said the policy would cause huge economic waste as businesses are put on hold,

He advised that, in future, a proper and well planned programme needs to be in place before declaring a public holiday for any celebration that will be national.

“Our economy and other sectors are not very healthy,” and it would, therefore be appropriate to plan well to avoid declarations that will hamper the citizens’ welfare.

Mazi Christian Beluchukwu, a business man in Awka, described the extension of the Eid-El-Fitr public holiday to Thursday, April 11, as an added hardship for the citizenry.

Beluchukwu said that any public holiday for three days, April 9 to 11, to celebrate any feast in the country is an economic loss to the nation.

He said that it was best to stick to the two-day national public holidays as this gives room for the people to plan their activities very well.

He stated that his wife went to a public hospital on Tuesday and was unattended to because there was no doctor on seat to provide medical attention.

“She resorted to visiting a private hospital which cost extra money which the public hospital is expected to handle at a reasonable cost. (NAN)

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Environment

World Bank Fund: Corporation Rehabilitates Treatment Plant, Reticulation in Jos South

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The Jos Water Services Corporation (JWSC) has said that the World Bank fund received would be used to boost water supply to Bukuru and environs in Jos South Local Government Area.

Mr Apollos Samchi, the Managing Director of the corporation, said that N1.7 billion would be expended on the rehabilitation of water treatment plant, over head steel tank and laying of pipes to homes of consumers.

Samchi, who disclosed this on Friday in Jos, during a two-day capacity building workshop, said that the projects were expected to be completed in four months.

Reports says that the workshop organised for contractors has at its theme: “Implementation of Environmental and Social Management Plans for Projects in Jos South.

The MD said that the projects would ensure steady provision of potable water to residents in Gyel and Kurgiya in Jos South Local Government Area.

He said the treatment plant when rehabilitated would pump out 5,000 cubic litres of water daily.

The MD further stated that the reticulation exercise would cover residents who weren’t initially connected to public water supply in the area.

Samchi said that the essence of the workshop was to ensure that the contractors were trained to develop adequate measures and controls to minimise and mitigate potential environmental and social risks that could adversely affect the project implementation.

He called on all the contractors handling the projects to ensure that they adhered to the environmental and safety standards and deliver within the specified timeframe.

In his remarks, Mr Jonathan Malann, the Plateau Project Coordinator, Sustainable Urban, Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene programme (SURWASH), also advised contractors to adhere to the environmental and safety standards as provided by the World Bank.

The Federal Government had received $700m financing from the World Bank to ensure that all its people have access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services.

The seven participating states are Plateau, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Katsina, and Kaduna.(NAN)

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Environment

Erosion Control Project: Gombe SEC Approves N389m Compensation for Residents

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The Gombe State Executive Council (SEC) has approved payment of N389 million as compensation for residents that would be affected by the gully erosion control project at Federal College of Education (FCE) Technical and its surrounding communities.

The Commissioner for Finance, Gombe State, Malam Mohammed Magaji, stated this at the end of the SEC meeting on Friday in Gombe.

Magaji said the payment, which would commence immediately, would be for individuals and organisations along the gully erosion site.

He said almost 1000 persons were expected to benefit from the gesture.

According to him, the compensation is part of the requirements of the World Bank, which specifies that such payments be made to property owners.

Magaji said the payment would also be made to ensure seamless resettlement of affected persons.

“The beneficiaries are in hundreds, almost a 1,000 people; there is compensation for houses, and also for business premises.

“There is also stipends for the elderly living around that area so that they are able to have good livelihood,” he said.

The commissioner for Education, Hajiya Aishatu Maigari, also said the SEC approved upgrade of the five mega senior secondary schools in the state to sustain improvement in the education sector.

Maigari said the upgrade would be carried out based on the needs of each of the schools.

She stated that infrastructure in some of the schools were already being upgraded to global standards.

“We have seen construction of toilets, installation of solar-powered light, construction of roads, school clinics, boreholes and many more,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government had on Nov. 23 signed a N12 billion contract with Triacta Nigeria Ltd. for a 21-kilometre gully erosion control work in six communities within Gombe metropolis.

The project is under ACRESAL project, a World Bank-assisted project to address the challenges of land degradation and climate change in northern Nigeria. (NAN)

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