The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammed Bello, on Monday, advanced reasons why his administration has not been eager to continue with the tradition of allocating plots of Nigerians to build their houses as his predecessors.
The minister, who presented the scorecard of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the FCT from 2015, explained that land allocation and administration was one of the toughest jobs of the minister of the federal territory and that he was not ready to give allocation for land that the allottee might not be able to access in two decades.
The minister explained that the developed areas with infrastructure in Abuja had since been given out by previous administrations and that it does not make any sense to continue to allocate new plots with new infrastructure and access, a situation that makes the development of such plots almost impossible.
The minister said: “A number of people have mentioned about land. Actually, one of the most difficult assignments of an FCT minister is land matters. I spent a lot of time with my team trying to see how can enhance the situation with land but the reality is that land in Abuja is no longer going to be available and easy as it was 20 years ago when people were being invited to come and get land so that they could develop the city.
There is no land in an area where you can develop and many of us have personal experiences where previous administrations allocated land in 20 years down the line you don’t even know where the land is and you cannot have access to it. So, we realized that a secondary market was just created with allocations made and people will just have pieces of paper and at the end of the day, nobody gets to build anything.
“The whole idea of land is for you to build and that is why we prefer to develop infrastructure and then provide access to the area to enable the allottees to build.
What is really happening now is that the template of land allocation has to change. The system where you get land and you go in a greenfield with infrastructure and you build is no longer possible because all the areas in phases one to three have all been allocated before we came into office.
So any new land allocation will be in phases four and five and infrastructure in some parts of phases one and two has not been completed. So it does not make sense for you to give people a false sense of hope that they have a piece of paper allocation for an area that will take them a lifetime to even get access to it.
“We are now encouraging the private sector to develop mass housing through direct mass housing allocation for them to put up buildings and then work out with off takers and some of this is being done directly by government through the cooperative societies of MDAs or by private sector companies and now through the land swap system where we open up totally new districts and then you allow private sector to develop and sell the buildings. It is something that has not been perfect but gradually we will get there,” Bello said.
On the distortion of the masterplan of Gwarinpa, turning the once serene and beautiful residential estate into a trading post and creating traffic snarls for residents, the minister blamed the flaw on the dual administration of the area by both the Federal Capital Development Authority and the Federal Housing Authority.
Bello however said that with the ceding of all the areas in the FCT under the administration of the FCDA, the distortion of Gwarinpa and other residential areas in the capital territory would be addressed for the overall interest of the people.
The minister said, “Gwarinpa, which was conceived as a perfect well designed as a residential accommodation according to the Abuja masterplan. But it is one of the issues we are trying to resolve because it was created by the Federal Government of Nigeria but authority to manage it was not domiciled with the FCDA but the Federal Housing Authority of Nigeria. During the previous administration there was a serious misunderstanding between the FCDA and the FHA and the misuse of purpose clause was caused by the FHA.
“But that has now been resolved by the Administration of the Muhammadu Buhari and we are working towards one standard of operation between the FCDA and the FHA but Gwarinpa occupants should also try to fight and to protect the status of the area because it is not what it was designed to be. It was meant to be a serene beautiful residential estate in Abuja for sections for commercial activities, parks, educational activities and religious activities and others normally expected in residential estates.