CHINYEAKA OHA:  In FCTA, Conformity with Abuja Masterplan is Sacrosanct

Chinyeaka  Oha

Mr.  Chinyeaka  Oha  is the permanent secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA).  An experienced bureaucrat and chief accounting officer of the ministry, Oha is no stranger to the management of human and material resources. Indeed, as a finance manager, he served Enugu State government between 1999 and 2007 as the accountant-general under the administration of former Governor Chimaroke  Nnamani before moving to the federal civil service. He also served as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth Development before he was moved to the Federal Capital Territory some years ago. As the Chairman of the FCT Land Use and Allocation Committee, Oha has grappled with the thorny issue of abuse of land allocation, which usually ends up with litigations. The perm sec and his land allocation team with the blessing of the FCT Minister, Malam  Bello Mohammed, initiated reforms that saw some unscrupulous staff of the Land Department and the Abuja Information Geographic System (AGIS) sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation and prosecution.This effort has led to a drastic reduction in land scams in addition to other far-reaching reforms that restored confidence in the system. With the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the Federal Government, a lot of wastage points were eliminated, leading to the expansion of government’s revenue base. In this interview with Kingsley Nwezeh Oha, dwells on wide-ranging issues as they concern land allocation, investors, infrastructure projects, revenue generation and resettlement policy among others. Excerpts:

How  has  the FCTA’s economic policy attracted investors?

We make sure we provide local and foreign investors a friendly environment  to operate. Our investment arms such as the Abuja Investment Company Ltd, the Abuja Infrastructure Investment Council (AIIC) and the Department of Economic Planning, Research and Statistics, among other relevant bodies handle that for us. 

 Are there incentives for investors?

Where it is necessary, we are willing to offer concession and necessary tax rebate to encourage  them. This is in addition to availability of sufficient human resources and raw materials as may be needed. The FCT has deservedly earned the status of the best and easiest place to start and grow business in Nigeria. It is no doubt, Africa’s investment haven -the highest investment-friendly destination in Nigeria.   

What measures did you adopt  to increase your revenue generation capacity?

We quickly keyed into President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on the 100 percent implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). It was and still is a major catalyst in increasing our Internally Generated Revenue. 

What in specific terms did you do?

We have been able to block all loopholes in all our revenue generating secretariats, departments and agencies (SDAs). We have also adopted the use technology in revenue collection, provided adequate and relevant training and retraining to relevant staff in this regard  so as to help shore up our IGR. 

What is the state of your IGR today?

With the commencement of operations by our revenue body, FCT Internal Revenue Service (FCT-IRS), we are very hopeful that our IGR will greatly improve. We need to improve our revenue generation, because there is always room for improvement and we hope to get there.

Would you say, between the time it was set up and now, a certain amount has been generated as against what was obtainable before?

The FCT-IRS has so far generated N58 billion from tax  and that was for the month of November alone and we are projecting N130billion for 2019. I think the chairman (FCT-IRS) addressed  the press recently where he gave you those figures. We are improving and we are  going to be better as we progress.

How were you able to cope with allocation to area councils in times of recession?

The FCT Administration took decisive measures to ensure prudence  in  financial management and expenditure. This financial discipline frees up finances for other essential service delivery in health, education, environment, infrastructural provision and transportation, among others. 

This administration was also able to provide bailout to the area councils to enable them meet up with some of their basic financial obligations, especially payment of salaries of their staff.

However, it is pertinent to note that the FCTA does not touch area councils’ funds accruing from the Federation Account. We usually give them their share during FAAC meetings.    

In addition to this statutory allocation, all the area councils are given one percent of our IGR which they share according to agreed sharing formula.   

Are  there any changes to the land allocation policy in a way that would curb incidences of multiple allocations?

It is true that change is the only constant thing in this world. We therefore effect changes, to improve land management as required by prevailing conditions and changes. These changes are either with the Department Land Administration and the Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS), not excluding other land related organs of the FCTA. 

Every now and then, we effect  these necessary and compelling changes, which could be administrative and technological.

Consequently, we have been able to come out with land titles that have foolproof security features that are similar to those on our currency notes.    

This administration has also strengthened Land Use Allocation Committee with a view to resolving issues with multiple allocations, and those of fake applications, which has been drastically. 

How has AGIS fared in your estimation?

The Abuja Geographic Information Systems has done very well so far. Together with the department of Land Administration, AGIS has been definitely updated  the management of our geospatial data which is not only used for land administration but also used by other public and private organisations.   

The organisation has brought in sanity and transparency in the administration of land in a manner that is effective and not complicated.    

What is the state of your mass housing policy? There are many court cases and some estates are not following specifications?

We have, to a large extent, brought in the private sector to partner in the provision of housing to residents, through the development of estates -low, middle and high income housing estates. 

Generally, Abuja is dotted with numerous estates, and it is clear that the provision of services, such as road network within the estates remains the responsibility of the developers of these estates. 

We are determined to ensure that they always keep to development guidelines, and these guidelines are being enforced by our relevant departments and agencies, including the Department of Development Control and others.

Have you fully resettled FCT indigenes?

Resettlement of the original inhabitants in the FCT is an ongoing activity. Because of insufficient financial resources, government could not complete holistic resettlement  of the original people of the FCT. 

However, as development approaches these communities, we relocate them accordingly. In some cases, we care out integration of some of the communities to modern development. 

 What role does Abuja Enterprise Agency play  in meeting the goals of your economic policy.

The AEA is the FCT Administration’s entrepreneurship and small scale businesses development vehicle. It conducts skills acquisition for the teeming youth in the FCT. It also equips them with take-off packages for their new or struggling business enterprises. 

The agency takes care of business development in both the formal and informal sectors of the nation’s capital and liaises with other public, local and international partners to boost the Territory’s economy.

How has infrastructure projects in the last three years impacted the growth of the nation’s capital?

Evidently, there is unprecedented development of infrastructure across the territory. Construction of many projects that had been stalled for decades has been revamped, and while some have been completed, and some are fast on-going.   

There are many on-going road projects -roads, rail, water and electricity projects within the Federal Capital City and the satellite towns.  

Where are we on the railway projects?

The Abuja Light Rail has already become a reality. It is a dream come true and we are determined to expand it to other parts of the territory, including the Nyanya axis and others, so that, together with the smooth road network, we can further improve a seamless movement across the territory and enhance economic activities in Abuja.

I believe you can recall that not long ago, Mr. President flagged off the Abuja-Kaduna rail line and Nigerians are enjoying now.