Alhaji Musa Tanko Abari is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the FCT. In this interview, he explained why he insists that the area councils are starved of funds to execute viable projects for their people; that the FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, facilitates the release of Paris Club funds to the chairmen and to also tour the area councils so that he can see that the rural dwellers are yet to feel the impact of the APC-led administration. Excerpts:
You have insisted that FCT area councils are starved of funds to execute projects by the minister. Have you put the recession into context or have you noticed some infractions from the FCT administration in the disbursement of FAAC to the area councils?
Firstly, I want you to understand that the issue of recession you are talking about is a general problem that has affected the entire country, which was why the president, Muhammadu Buhari, made efforts and secured the Paris Club refund to state governments to pay workers, including the FCT. And today, we give thanks to God that we are gradually coming out of recession.
And talking about infraction, I want to tell you that there is no infraction in terms of disbursement of funds to the area council chairmen under the leadership of the FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello. To be honest, the present FCT minister has been honest and prudent in terms of disbursement of funds to the six area councils, but what I am saying is that the area councils need funds to execute viable projects that will impact on the lives of the people that elected them into office.
What the AMAC chairman was saying that the minister has been releasing the area councils’ allocation to them in full is not what I am talking about. I am saying the minister should use his good offices to facilitate the release of the Paris Club funds to the council chairmen so that after they pay salaries and settle other liabilities, they can use what is left to execute projects for their people. I am a grassroots politician and I know the challenges the rural dwellers have been facing, especially in the area of social amenities and infrastructural development.
Let me tell you, what a typical village man needs is water, health centre, good access roads to enable him transport his crops to the market and farm inputs. If they can have these things, one can easily beat his chest and move freely anywhere, anytime, especially during electioneering campaign. At least, if these amenities are provided, one can be able to point at them as what the party has achieved and why we are seeking for the peoples votes again. But in a situation where the party in government has stayed in power for almost two years without any viable projects to show the people, it means winning election in 2019 is not going to be an easy task.
When you go out for campaign to tell people to re-elect you, you should be able to tell or show them what you provided during your first tenure in office. So it will be a slap on my face that as the 2019 area councils’ election approaches, I won’t know what to point or tell the masses because if you are not careful, there is a place you will go and some people may end hauling pure water or stones at you for not providing any democratic dividend to their community, especially now that the electorate are becoming more sophisticated on a daily basis.
And you should also understand that it is not everywhere that money will work as there are some people who will collect your money and they will not vote for you. That is why the last time I told you that my worry is that my party, APC, may not find it so easy during the council election in 2019, because one year down the line, there are people who voted for the party that are yet to feel its impact.
What do you think the FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, should do to give your party, APC, a leeway in the 2019 area council election?
You see, just like I earlier said, the major issue is for the area council chairmen to provide viable projects that will impact on the lives of the people that voted them into office, and to be able to do this, the FCT minister must secure the release of the Paris Club funds to them and even if there are other ways he can also assist by giving them bail out so that they can do some work. That is what I said earlier and the AMAC chairman went to counter my comment that the minister has not been tampering with the area council allocations. That was all I said, but I was surprised to read the next day that the AMAC chairman was saying a different thing entirely. The AMAC chairman may be comfortable with the amount he receives on monthly basis, including the revenue being generated, but we can’t compare other area councils with AMAC. Now, why is it that some area councils like Kuje and Kwali are still owing their staff salaries between three to four months and AMAC is not owing a kobo?
So what I am saying here is that the minister should help to ensure that funds are provided for the area councils so that they can execute projects for their people.
I will also want the minister to create time and embark on a tour of the area councils to see for himself the challenges people of the rural areas are facing in terms of social amenities.
How do you rate President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in terms of politics of inclusiveness? Do you feel his administration has taken care of the agitation of the indigenous people of the FCT?
In fact, we thank God that today we have two ambassadors and permanent secretaries who are all natives of the FCT. We had only one ambassador before. We are also hoping that the proposed ministerial slot endorsed by the Senate comes to reality. So I say kudos to the administration of Buhari and to the National Assembly.
I want to also let you know that there are board members who are natives, especially party chieftains and stakeholders. I believe the present APC-led administration has given politics of inclusiveness a priority.
I want to add that the government under Buhari has made significant progress in the area of agriculture, security and corruption fight. As you can see that majority of Nigerians have now embraced farming while the so-called oil is no longer the sole attraction to the people.