The Honourable Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has urged that submissions seeking amendments to the 1999 constitution should be guided by the principles of national unity, patriotism and peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians.
He equally called on Nigerians to seize the opportunity provided by the exercise to strengthen national bond and cohesion. In the words of the Minister, “the Strength of our country lies in the diversity and dynamism of her people. We should seize the opportunity provided by this exercise to strengthen our common bond as a people and guarantee the growth and development of our country”.
Malam Bello said this in his goodwill message to the National Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution taking place in Abuja while commending the Senate Committee for its efforts in ensuring the success of its assignment.
The Minister also made submissions to the Committee where he prayed for amendments to certain sections of the constitution which will amongst others bring governance closer to the people an also guarantee funding for the development of the FCT.
While seeking amendment to SECTION 7 of the constitution, the Minister proposed the inclusion of a new sub section immediately after Section 7(5) to read as follows: A: (6) The functions to be conferred by law upon the Area Councils may include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Constitution and, where so conferred, shall be performed outside the Federal Capital City (FCC) and such areas as may be designated from time to time by the Minister in charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
The justification for this, according to the Minister, is that “Section 7 (5) as presently constituted gives room for duplicity of roles, conflicts and mismatches in planning, provision of infrastructure and service delivery in the Federal Capital Territory.
The proposed amendment, the Minister explained is aimed at addressing the aforementioned problems and achieving harmony between the FCTA and the Area Councils. The Area Councils, he continued are entitled to their Constitutional mandates. However, they should do that outside the Federal Capital City (FCC) and, as a matter of expediency, collaborate with the FCT Administration, to ensure harmony in the development of infrastructure and provision of amenities.
Collaboration between the FCT Administration and the Area Councils, the Minister added is necessary because the Federal Capital Territory is a planned modern project with a centralized planning system, cohesive infrastructural coordinates and interconnected engineering designs.
In proposing amendments to section 301 of the Constitution, the Minister submitted that Section 301(c) to read: “References to persons, offices and authorities of a State were references to the persons, offices, and authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration with like status, designations, and powers, respectively”.
Justifying this submission, the Minister said “This current provision does not give full effect to Section 299 of the Constitution and as such requires an amendment that will effectively empower the Federal Capital Territory functionaries to discharge their statutory responsibilities including, but not limited to those specified by Presidential Order No. 1 of 2004.
Furthermore, Malam Bello added, “the proposed amendment will enable the Federal Capital Territory functionaries to assume the statutory roles assigned to certain Government functionaries under the Federal Capital Territory applicable laws as contained in the Schedule of the Federal Capital Territory Act”.
The Minister in his submission also proposed an amendment to the First Schedule Part 2 of the Constitution which is “Amend Area Council Headquarters for Abuja Municipal from Garki to a town outside the Federal Capital City.
On funding of infrastructure in the FCT, Malam Bello in his submission said “We propose that a definitive constitutional provision be made to ensure adequate and unhindered funding of the FCT through the creation of an FCT Infrastructure Development Fund, OR through a 1st line charge on the funds of the Federation or some other acceptable arrangement”.
The Minister explained that this was essential considering the fact that Abuja, is home to an ever increasing number of Nigerians who have made the Territory their homes.
Of the 196 districts that make up the FCT, Malam Bello revealed that only 10 districts have been fully developed with infrastructure, 12 districts partially developed with 70 districts within the Federal Capital City undeveloped.
He said that with the rate of population growth, without a robust and well-structured funding arrangement, for the provision of and maintenance of infrastructure, the FCT might ultimately be birthing an urban slum.
Also present at the event were the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu and the Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola amongst other senior officials of the FCTA.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY