Bala Kaoje is a former president of Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB) and former president Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria. In this interview, he spoke on the need for the FCT Administration to revoke undeveloped plots and use the money generated from it to open up new areas.
What is your view on the move by the FCT Administration to revoke undeveloped lands in the city?
The leadership of FCT has been very generous in the past in terms of developing areas by providing all the necessary infrastructures and giving people allocation at peanut cost by asking you to pay maybe N100,000 and after paying you get a land allocated to you and the government has spent billions to provide infrastructure in such areas. And you have a situation today where there is serious paucity of funds for government to continue developing new areas. How do you now find resources to develop and open up new areas within the FCT administration so that the congestion is reduced within the few districts that we have so far that are developed. So I think many of these plots are there undeveloped and already infrastructures are provided and these plots were allocated to the owners at peanut prices, no consideration of infrastructure was taken into account and they have left them for 30 -40 years undeveloped. And they are making the Abuja city look awkward in terms of beauty. So I think government should do something about it by asking the people to come and develop within a specific period of time.
So how should the government go about it?
Government should call on these people after identifying them and let them develop them at a specific time and if they refused then the government has the right to revoke and re-allocate to another person because this same plots are being sold for millions of naira so why should government sit there and make individuals richer and the government is looking for funds seriously to open up other districts.
Are you saying the FCTA lacks financial power to fund infrastructure?
As I speak the budget of the FCT is still at the National Assembly and this is the month of October going to the end so the year is gone. And the FCT is waiting even for their budget to be approved and that budget of course is based on envelope perhaps with the IGIS rent they raise in the FCT. All that put together might not allow the minister to actually achieve all these projects he wants to achieve. So if these plots are revoked they will actually go into open market and sell them at high prices and may not be as high as that of normal speculators. If the FCT minister can raise billions within the next few months he can probably go and open up new areas and invest this money and allocate the area. So everybody should be careful the way he uses what he gets from government so that he doesn’t get government overstretched unnecessarily.