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Wed, Sep 6, 2023 7:51 AM

Minister Vows to Revoke Lands Over Failure to Pay Ground Rents in Abuja

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Minister Vows to Revoke Lands Over Failure to Pay Ground Rents in Abuja
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has declared his intention to revoke lands from allottees who have failed to pay ground rents amounting to N34 billion. Wike emphasized that the rent must be paid to ensure the necessary services are rendered. He also discussed the poor budgetary provision for the FCT and the need for assistance from the House of Representatives. Wike promised to overhaul the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company (AUMTCO) and address the issue of one chance operators within the territory.

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has vowed to revoke lands of allottees over failure to pay ground rents, amounting to N34 billion.

Wike made this vow while speaking to members of the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee to Investigate Failure of Mass Transportation in Nigeria, during a working visit in his office.

The minister warned allottees owing the Administration for ground rents to either pay or have their property revoked and reallocated to those who could pay.

His words: "I have calculated the debt of non payment of ground rent, which is about N34 billion and I am going to collect all of those back. I don't care all I want is for the rent to be paid.

"We will be publishing on Thursday for all those who are meant to pay their ground rent. They will be given the grace of two weeks to pay.

"Whoever doesn't pay, I'll revoke it and give it to whoever will pay so that the necessary services will be rendered. People want to live in a beautiful city but don't want to pay their dues which is impossible."

He said he would tie projects to this Internally-Generated Revenues (IGR) so that contractors would be paid yearly and projects would no more be abandoned.

Reacting to why Lagos was succeeding in public transportation but Abuja was not, Wike explained that Lagos was a state while the "FCT is like a State", stressing that budgetary provision for the FCT was poor.

"Our budgeting system is too poor. So how will it work? We require your help too. Thank God I am the one to supervise this year's budget. We will come to you, please don't pursue us," he appealed.

On the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company (AUMTCO), he said: "The truth of the matter is that I am going to overhaul the entire system."

He disclosed that N2 billion was approved for palliatives by President Bola Tinubu for FCT in the Federal Government's subsidy programme and his "concern was transportation, but I need to know where are we."

The Minister lamented that AUMTCO buses were been loaned out for other uses without maintenance because "people think that government business is not their business, but where you work should be your concern."

He also assured FCT residents that he will tackle the menace of one chance within the territory, noting that with a functional transportation system in place will make one chance operators disappear.

Hinting at the formation of cabinet next week for people to take charge of the affairs, Wike assured that "we have the capacity and we will work with what you give."

Berating the proliferation of abandoned projects in the FCT, Wike revealed that the FCT was owing contractors about N1 trillion for the projects, stating that he would not initiate new ones.

"You must do what you can at a time, and leave those you cannot for other governments....Everyone is a problem. We do our own, you do your own, and everyone does his own."

On the "poorly negotiated Wasa affordable housing contract, the minister wondered why over N1 billion would be spent by the government to provide infrastructure for investors to build and make billions while the government gets nothing. All those things, I am gonna cancel them," he said.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee, Afam Victor Ogene, said his committee visited to find solutions to the epileptic mass transportation in the country and FCT after over N16 billion had been put into it during Sure-P.

"We know that our country, our government has invested so much in mass transit. But the issue is why do they fail. Between 2012 and 2014, we invested N16 billion under the SURE- P programme. Most of those programmes were given out through the Infrastructure Bank to certain operators. From our finding so far, only two have fully paid. We are trying to ask questions what happened to the rest.

"This is part of what this committee is supposed to unravel. Earlier today, we went to the Abuja Urban Mass Transit to look at their facilities. We have had submissions from the management if the Abuja Urban Mass Transit. What is on ground if you go into the facility is a myriad of abandoned and broken down buses. And that is not good for the image of the company. It doesn't speak well of our transportation system. One will wonder, for instance, why would a sub-national like Lagos, for instance, run their transportation LAMATA very well; only yesterday, they launched the Lagos Blue Line. If a sub-national can do that, why can't the central government, especially in the capital city."

He disclosed that they discovered Abuja Light Rail was "a mirage of itself" during their visit to the site, and found out that Abuja which used to be dark at night suddenly is no longer as they could see fictional streetlight.

"Many people are saying Wike is this, Wike is that, but we need more of Wike. Abuja is fine but it doesn't have organized systems and some people are not willing to come to Abuja and we are missing revenue."

"We are here to encourage you to also look into transportation to organize it. We will support you to do it, and it will also solve problems of one chance in the city," he pledged.

Meanwhile, Wike has vowed to overhaul the now-collapsed Abuja Urban Mass Transportation Company (AUMTC).

The minister, who made the promise when the House of Representatives Committee on Mass Transit visited him in his office to explore modalities for revamping the once vibrant Abuja Urban Mass Transit company, said it is embarrassing for a capital city like Abuja to lack a world-class mass transportation system.

While lamenting the hiring of the buses to churches and other event holders by the management of the transportation company, Wike blamed its comatose state on the attitude of the AUMTC leadership, who over the years, allowed government assets to decay because "it's not their properties."

He also assured FCT residents that he will tackle the menace of one chance within the territory, noting that with a functional transportation system in place, one chance operators will disappear.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-09-06 News

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