Wike Defends N61bn 2023 Supplementary Budget Before NASS

…says demolition won’t stop

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike, on Wednesday defended the submitted N61b 2023 Supplementary Budget estimate at two arms of the National Assembly.

Wike who said the budget components are projects-specific, added that President Bola Tinubu would commission most of them including the Abuja Metroline by May as part of activities marking the president’s one year in office.

According to him, the N61 billion FCT Supplementary Budget was drawn from its Paris Club refund, PAYE, the N5 billion special presidential intervention for states, the presidential infrastructure support funds and the territory’s Internally Generated Revenue IGR.

He said: “Mr President will commission the metro line by May. If you look at the national budget, there is a provision for the rail project.”

Responding to a question on the fate of victims of the administration’s demolition exercises, the minister said Nigerians cannot desire a world-class Federal Capital Territory and then make excuses for unplanned and illegal developments.

Noting that demolitions could not be stopped as long as people continue to build on green areas, water and sewage lines and other unapproved places, he said the Administration would however pay compensation in areas designated for resettlement.

He said: “We can’t stop demolitions. You cannot go and build in a green area and then when we demolish, you want us to compensate you. Illegality is illegality. But if we want to acquire your property for development, we will pay you.”

Wike justified his decision to engage Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to help handle cases involving the Administration. He lamented that the lack of diligent prosecution of cases in the past by FCT officials led to the loss of a number of cases.

Admitting that there are currently over 800 litigations involving the FCT, the Minister alleged complicity on the part of some officials who connived with plaintiffs to get judgments against the FCT Administration.

He said: “I have never seen a territory with over 800 litigations. Some of these litigations were in connivance with staff of the FCT. So, I said I will engage SANs because I don’t want a situation whereby someone will go to court and then agree with the plaintiffs and judgment is entered against the FCT.”

On security, he said the Administration would revive the city’s mass transit system to eliminate cases of “one chance”, adding that private operators would undergo security vetting before being allowed into the system.

He said he was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) with regards to providing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in strategic parts of the city.

Wike also vowed to cancel some Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) entered into by the Administration with some private developers, saying those arrangements had been used to fleece the administration of billions in the past.

He said: “I will cancel several PPPs. All the PPPs in Abuja are about land and are against the FCT.”

Wike cited a case in Wassa where the Administration gave the developer land for mass housing, and gave him another N85 billion for infrastructure, lamenting that the developer would go and build houses, and sell to people at market value without anything coming to the Administration. “We will cancel it,” he declared.

He also restated his position on the recertification of all Certificates of Occupancy.

“All C of Os will be recertified and you will put your NIN. In FCT, there are a lot of fake C of Os but with this new development, we will end that and security-wise, we can know people who own each structure. If you have a C of Os and you have enjoyed recertified, it will no longer be valid,” he stated.

Chairman of the House Committee on FCT, Muktar Betara lauded the minister for his passion for developing the territory, however urged him to reconsider the uniform fees for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, saying highbrow areas like Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and others cannot have the same fees with the satellite towns.

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