Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu Candido, chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), in this interview, spoke on why he insisted on the collection of tenement rate by the area council. He also explained why protests and agitations by the FCT natives are not what will get them a ministerial slot; among other issues. Excerpt:
What are the priority areas you intend to focus on in your second term as AMAC chairman?
I think the priority areas may not be too different from those of my first tenure. What we intend to achieve is to continue from where we stopped in the area of infrastructure provision and development. And of course, there are other beautiful things that we were not able to complete during the last tenure and by the grace of God, this time around, we shall complete them.
And from the budget of year 2020 we intend to focus more on infrastructure – that is roads, electricity, particularly in our communities, as there are some rural areas just very close to the city centre but with no access to electricity. This time around, we intend to concentrate on them.
You had a running battle with House of Reps members during your first tenure over the collection of tenement rate. What is the situation in the collection of the rate?
It is constitutional and AMAC is still in charge as far as collection of tenement rate is concerned and that was the reason I stood my ground right from inception. We cannot allow any institution to take over the collection of tenement rate. But we thank God that at the end of the day there is no longer any trouble between us and any institution. We are now on the same page.
Despite agitation by FCT natives urging President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a native as minister, how did you feel as a chieftain of APC that at the end no native was included in the ministerial list sent to the National Assembly?
Sincerely, I must sympathize with my people because I am part of them and I am a stakeholder as far as the indigenous of people of the FCT are concerned. We are worried that we have not been given any ministerial slot from 1999 to date. But what is uppermost and more fundamental is, are we going to achieve a ministerial slot through fighting? Do we get it through confrontation? So some people may not understand where we are going.
We want Nigerians to see reason why they should support a nomination from the FCT as it is done in other states because this is the only place where you have stateless Nigerians. I don’t have a state today, because FCT is not a state as far as the constitution is concerned. And the constitution guarantees nomination of minister from states. And whoever is saddled with such responsibility cannot be crucified or blamed if he didn’t give us minister because he is respecting what the constitution spells out.
So in this case, I observed that fighting will not solve the problem, unnecessary criticism, protests and what have you can also not help matters. The best way is to appeal to the authorities.
Let Nigerians appreciate what we are passing through, possibly somebody can come from Sokoto and be of great help. Somebody can come from Rivers, Adamawa or Enugu State and be of great assistance to us without fighting and we can achieve this desire.
So all that we are preaching is that agitators, who are our brothers, can take another strategy. We can’t continue fighting ourselves. You know, exposing our ills by bringing our parents from the homes to the streets. They don’t even know what is happening. We expose them to the dangers of the city and say we are protesting. God forbid that a calamity happens, who do we hold?
I wrote to Nigerians for them to see reason with us; to help us reach out to the authorities so that we can have a minister from among the FCT natives. And when we say a minister, I am not saying only from the indigenes, the entire FCT political family today has become one.
Whether you are an indigene or not, whatever it is, you are a Nigerian domiciled in this FCT. So you have every reason and right to ask to either be voted for or to vote. Everybody is entitled to some of these privileges. So we say let us all come together so that we appeal to the authorities. This lobby that I am preaching is the best alternative now instead of confrontation as I will never play the game of working on somebody’s script that I don’t think is right.
I am a politician yes, but I will never allow myself to be drawn by opposing political party to engage in opposing agitation, it will not help us. We have done this in the past; it has not helped us, then, let us devise another means, which is lobby as an essential ingredient to achieve result. And if we do that, if we deploy our energy in lobbying and talking to Nigerians, to talk to the authorities who we cannot reach, sooner, we will realise the minister position in FCT.