Alhaji Ibrahim Jirgi, a notable media expert and Managing Director of Tripple Cee Media Consultancy Firm and also a member of 2015 APC Presidential Campaign Council believes that the non-conformist conviction of current FCT Minister, Alhaji Musa Bello in astute prudence and zero tolerance of corruption in the management of FCT affairs have impacted positively in sanitising the leadership and administration in FCT. He sopke on various issues in this interview.
What is your take on the leadership style of the current headship of the Ministry of FCT in view of the general belief that corruption has stymied administration of its affairs in the past?
There is no doubt that corruption is generally the bane of all efforts to develop not only the FCT Ministry in line with transparent practices, but the whole country. We have missed opportunities and the huge potentials of the country have not only been fully tapped for the good of all but corruption has taken us years back as a people. The FCT is just one unit, but its position and place as the Federal Capital City of Nigeria has conferred on it some level of critical position that attracts more attention. We have all been aware of how things have deteriorated in the administration of the FCT and we are also witnesses to how bad doing business there has become such a terrible experience.
But I must acknowledge that since the assumption of office of the current FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, we have seen how his style of leadership has changed the narrative. There is sanity in all facets there and it is no longer business as usual for corrupt elements who have cashed in on the loopholes to make things difficult for everyone but themselves.
What are the specific areas you think the Minister has brought some measure of change?
There used to be leakages in the administration of FCT. Both staff and other stakeholders used to take advantage of these leakages to perpetuate high level corruption at the detriment of developing infrastructure. One of the things he first did on assumption of office is to block these leakages and I think this is about the first time any FCT Minister has succeeded in dealing with this monster so effectively. Those of us who have official businesses to transact there can tell you that sanity has, indeed been brought to that area and one can see that order has been restored. Again, the Minister has followed that up with a deliberate policy of cutting down cost. In terms of enforcing order in the way resources are managed, the FCT has never had it so good. One good thing about it is that the same members of staff who were thought to have gone too far into huge mismanagement of resources in the area of over-invoicing, contract inflation and all manner of unholy practices are the same people that have been beaten into line by Muhammad Musa Bello. All transactions are done so transparently such that no one is left in any doubt of the new dawn there.
The FCT has had very big challenges in opening up the city further by providing road infrastructure in the City itself and even in the council areas. What will you say?
I think this Minister has surpassed all our expectations in that regard. When he first came in, his taciturn nature appeared to mean he was inapproachable and somewhat not development-driven. That has all changed. You can see, as you drive along the city that he has done excellently in provision of roads. He has further opened the city up in all the districts, the areas and even the Councils. His efforts in that regard were unmatched. The area councils too have witnessed a high tempo in road construction and management. He had made it clear, in his initial body language, that road infrastructure was critical to the development of the FCT and its area councils. For the first time again, these councils have been given the kind of attention they have never enjoyed before. They are reckoned with in all matters that concern them and the development plans into such areas are now being strictly followed. This attitude of the Minister to their plight is what had necessitated the community leaderships of these areas to be speaking positively about the new dawn that was brought to them. You must be aware of the constant and persistent commendation which the Minister enjoys from around the councils and satellite areas. It is all down to what they see as an unprecedented effort to their development by a caring FCT administration.
What will you say is behind his efforts to complete the road projects which he inherited?
It is one of the legacies he will leave behind. He is about the only FCT Minister who has, from day one, made his intention known, that he will pursue with all the vigor, the completion of all inherited projects. He pursued this policy as if he was the one who initiated them. To him, who started the projects was immaterial. The most important thing was that when completed, the projects would serve the entire residents. The most important thing was, were they critical to the development of the FCT? If the answer happens to be yes, no other consideration matters. The credit to who started the projects may go to anyone for all he cared; so long as they are completed, he feels accomplished. Muhammad Musa Bello came into office on the crest of his incorruptibility and non-comformist tendencies. He does not conform to the business-as-usual mantra. The fact that everyone else believes in sharp practices so long as it serves one’s interest does not ram with his idealistic approach to life. I can tell you that when he came into office, the norm was for the Minister to enjoy free newspapers running into huge amount of money monthly. He scrapped that policy promptly and insisted that he does not even require as many newspapers. He argued that he does not even have the time to read all of them in a day. So he has, since then, been buying the few newspapers he needs from his own pocket.
Land racketeering used to be the in-thing there. There are reports that such practices have reduced. What will you say is responsible for this?
All manner of sharp practices or cutting corners, at the expense of the system and law abiding people have long been jettisoned in the administration of the FCT. Land racketeering and double allocation that were in vogue then have all stopped. In fact, all the vices that have been exploited by speculators and other lazy bones are no longer attractive or profitable. And this was as a result of measures taken by the Minister to sanitize the place and the way business is conducted there. Just go there and see how sanity has been restored. If you know how chaotic and unruly the place used to be or how people mill around looking for corners to cut, you will understand why it is important to have people like the current Minister in such a place.
I can remember that the Minister had spoken passionately about private partnership in the provision of important services and utilities in the FCT. To what extent has that gone?
Under the PPP arrangement, two vital water treatment projects at Usuma and reticulation in both urban and rural areas are on the way coming. You know water supply has been a problematic area in the FCT and no effort will be a waste in attempts to supply water. Insufficiency of water has presented its own challenges to virtually all the administrations of the FCT. Of course, each administration had done its level best to deal with it, but as we have seen, the problem has persisted. If the PPP effort as encapsulated by the current Minister is continued, I think a permanent solution will be found in no distant future.
How will you describe the man, Muhammad Musa Bello?
He is sincere to a fault, patriotic, dutiful, Spartan, energetic, firm and humanistic. If you are the straight type, you will enjoy his company. But if you cut corners, forget it.