FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed
By Senator Iroegbu
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed has declared that there is no going back in the ongoing demolition exercise 'to restore back the Abuja Master Plan', disclosing that already over 124,000 homes have been demolished.
Mohammed made this startling revelation Monday during the Town Hall Meeting to mark the end or the four-day Good Governance Tour embarked upon by the Federal Ministry of Information to asses various Federal Government Projects in the FCTA.
He explained that apart of security risk those homes, mostly shanties poses to the Nation's Capital, he noted that people are building homes with recklessness and must be checkmated in order not to worsen the already altered City Plan.
He said: "The Land Use Act says FCT is under the Federal Government. Under the delegation of power by the president, the FCT minister can allocate lands but people are still abusing the master plan with absolute recklessness and selling lands to people anyhow.
"We are demolishing and we will continue to demolish. My predecessors combined demolished about 30, 000 houses but I am sorry to say that I have demolished over 124,000 structures".
The minister, however, assured to take care of the grievances of the FCT aborigines who have felt discriminated and marginalised in the development schemes in the territory.
He said that three pronged efforts are ongoing to resolve the challenges of the indigenous people of FCT through resettlement, compensation and urban renewal.
"In the area of resettlement, we have to complete the village in Wassah and other places before we can resettle them. Even along the airport, the structures ought to have been completed three years before I came but I am assuring you that we shall complete them very soon," he said.
"There is a feeling that indigenous settlers are wastes that should be put away, no there should be a process of co-habitation. We have completed the resettlement area around the airport, and have acquired about 50 hectares at Wassah," he added.
In the same vein, the Senate Committee Chairman on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi has disclosed that they will introduce Property Tax Law in the Capital City, and as well as bill on rent and real estate development.
Adeyemi noted that, it is part of plans to shore up the deficit in the execution of projects in the FCT, that they are in top gear to introduce taxes on properties within the city centre.
He stated: "In the next few weeks, we will put advertorials in the papers so that we can invite people to brainstorm with us on how to generate money for the FCT Administration. We will introduce property tax."
The Senate Committee Chairman also raised alarm at the rate with which most houses are left unoccupied for several years in the city centre while people are groaning under high cost of rent.
He wondered how a genuine property developer, who possible could have borrowed money from the mortgage would leave built houses vacant for years without trying to recoup his money; attributing it to stolen funds.
"If people have siphoned money to build sky scrappers, then they should be taxed accordingly. As we prepare for the 2013 budget, the National Assembly will take a particular interest in the development of the satellite towns," he said.
"We are going to introduce a bill on rent and estate development in Abuja. If you go around the city, you are going to see empty houses vacant for several years and you begin to ask if they actually borrowed money from the bank. You and I know that they could have built these houses with stolen money, and very soon you are going to see public hearing on properties in Abuja," he reassured.
"We cannot do this through the regular subvention from the Federal Government. We are working on areas to generate money. We will take from the rich people to carter for the poor people," he noted.
It will be recalled that the Senate initiated a bill recently to constitute an agency that will manage and generate revenues for the FCT Administration (FCTA) which was sponsored by the Committee Chairman on FCT.