By the time you will be reading this article, the freshly appointed ministers, who will assist President Bola Tinubu in driving his Renewed Hope Agenda, would have already taken up their duties at their respective offices, following their swearing-in on Monday.
In the penultimate week, the Senate received the president’s list of nominees, leading to a predictable mix of reactions. While some lauded the list, others expressed disappointment, primarily due to its rotation of familiar figures—a repetition of the old guard that many believe the country should be moving past.
This sentiment is understandable. A list comprising eight former governors, some of whom lost their reelection bids, signifying rejection by their own constituents, would certainly leave many feeling uninspired.
Following the nominees’ screening, all eyes were on which regions would be allocated which ministries. These ministries had already been classified by Nigerians as either “juicy” or “non-juicy.” Observers were eager to see the distribution between senior and junior ministers, despite the fact that the relationship between ministers and ministers of state can be considered a form of equality among equals.
Upon completion of the ministerial placements, discontentment reverberated from various corners of the nation. For instance, the comments I encountered from some individuals in the Northern region suggested dissatisfaction with the ministries they were assigned. In fact, opposition politicians took the opportunity to taunt the North, ridiculing the perceived insignificance of what they were granted, given their support for Tinubu’s ascendancy to the Presidency.
However, one appointment that generated considerable celebration was the designation of the FCT minister, in which former Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike was assigned. Wike’s appointment is historic. It marks the first instance of a Southerner holding the position of FCT minister in its history.
During his tenure as Rivers governor, Wike was celebrated as “Mr. Projects.” Hardly a month passed without a major project being inaugurated in Rivers. In the lead-up to the recent general election, a plethora of inaugurations occurred, culminating in projects being unveiled up until his final day in office.
Wike engineered a transformation of Rivers’ infrastructure landscape. This achievement is precisely why many FCT residents greeted his appointment with enthusiasm, as the city yearns for the sort of development he brought to Rivers.
As someone who has lived in Abuja for more than 15 years, I can say that the city has not developed at the pace expected of it.
Abuja is graced with several stalled physical projects that desperately need completion. The Millennium Towers in the Central Business District is a glaring example of a project that stands incomplete and seems to have been jinxed. Another such project is the Apo-Karshi road that has seen many different administrations yet remains uncompleted. Once a safe haven where residents could traverse freely without safety concerns, Abuja now hosts criminal activities. Muggings and robberies occur even within the city center.
Criminals exploit the proliferation of slums surrounding the city, positioning themselves to launch attacks on residents. Many residents have fallen into uncovered manholes, sustaining injuries due to stolen covers that have left numerous manholes exposed throughout the city.
The city has succumbed to drug barons who operate without restraint, fostering a severe drug addiction crisis that authorities grapple with. Just this year, the FCT Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) reported intercepting around 3,091.032 kilograms of suspected illicit drugs, valued at over N56.9 million. The command also arrested 343 drug suspects during this period.
The city also suffers from a dearth of critical infrastructure. Numerous estates are cropping up without essential infrastructure like access roads and water facilities. The proliferation of boreholes drilled to meet the city’s water demands threatens to exacerbate environmental problems, as experts warn.
Furthermore, the city lacks a functional public transportation system. Existing systems have completely faltered, leaving a void now filled by private motorists and inadvertently fostering opportunities for criminals, colloquially known as “One Chance,” who rob unsuspecting passengers. The Abuja metro line and light rail projects which should serve the purpose of mass commuting to and out of the city, thereby freeing the roads of needless vehicular traffic, remain unrealised, exacerbating the transportation challenge.
Sanitation is another pressing concern, with filth overtaking many areas.
While budgetary constraints might underlie some of these challenges, the occupant’s personality in the office, coupled with their political determination and administrative acumen, play a vital role in driving change. Wike seems perfectly suited for this role.
He swiftly held a press conference after his inauguration, and from his statements, it’s evident he comprehends the challenges and is determined to take swift action. His words resonate with the right intent.
He expressed concern that the FCT has lost its focus and is not progressing in line with the aspirations of its founding figures or comparable to other global capital cities. He insists on restoring the FCT to its former stature and claims both willingness and capability to do so.
Wike has already structured his initiatives into medium and short-term projects, understanding that everything cannot be tackled simultaneously. To demonstrate his grasp of the issues, he prioritises addressing security concerns, pledging to provide the necessary resources to achieve this goal.
Though it’s early days, Wike’s track record precedes him. He is known for his courage and notable achievements, and it’s the hope of FCT residents and indeed all Nigerians that he will rejuvenate the FCT and restore it as a secure and peaceful haven for everyone.
A captivating question that Nigerians are eagerly awaiting an answer to revolves around whether Wike’s musical band will accompany him to Abuja. Throughout his tenure as the Rivers governor, his musical band was a constant presence. Comprising skillfully composed melodies tailored for him, whenever they launched into one of these songs, he would often break into dance, bringing amusement to all who witnessed. Now that he holds the position of the FCT’s top resident, residents are enthusiastically anticipating the band’s relocation and some are eager to be a part of the band or, at the very least, desire the opportunity to witness their performances once the minister begins to attend events and inaugurate projects.