By Chukwudi Enekwachi
Among the six area councils of Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, Kwali Area Council is emerging as the cynosure of all eyes going by its developmental strides. Honourable Joseph Shazin at the commencement of his second term as the chairman of the council, outlined a clear vision for the rapid development of the entire council.
Kwali Area Council is located on a land area of about 1,206km2, and boosts a population of about 85,837 based on the 2006 census. The area council was created on October 1, 1996 by the military administration of late General Sani Abacha.
Kwali is also famous for pottery and the legendary woman potter, Dr. Ladi Kwali, whose image adorns the 20 Naira bill, hails from Kwali. The inhabitants are also into cloth-making, hunting and trading.
Apart from constructing and rehabilitating schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure, the Shazin administration is changing the lives of his people by providing water, health facilities and farming equipment for the farmers.
The council is also leveraging on its comparative advantage in agriculture on a large scale. From all indications, the administration has a clear-cut blueprint on how to transform the communities in the area, and the chairman has set the ball rolling.
Though Kwali is mostly an agrarian area, but in a bid to transform it and utilise the advantage of its strategic location which is on the Lokoja-Abuja expressway, Shazin has recently approved the construction of an international market in the area council. To realise this objective, he recently handed over the site certificate for the construction of the market to the management of Transitional Infrastructure Limited.
The multi-billion naira project to be located at Dabi-Bako along the Abuja-Lokoja Expressway when completed is expected to boost socio-economic activities in the area and create jobs for the people. Some of the facilities that will be provided in the market include a 3-star hotel, nursery and primary schools, restaurants, banks, police stations, firefighting station, cottage hospital, recreational parks and a multi-purpose hall.
On the whole, the administration is focussed on delivering democracy dividends and embarking on a comprehensive infrastructural development of the area council.
In addition to the infrastructural development, workers’ salaries are paid as due, and this has endeared him to the generality of the workers in the council.
It is pertinent to point out that Shazin was elected as chairman for a second term after vacating office a few years ago. It has been acknowledged that he was recalled to serve his people again on account of his achievements in his first tenure. His second popular mandate was bestowed on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
During his first tenure, he concentrated on constructing roads, bridges, water boreholes and, as an accomplished teacher, he made education the fulcrum of his development efforts. Without doubt, the policy has improved the livelihood of the people and elevated the indigenes as many of them now have access to education.
In fact, his achievements in the educational sector can be described as revolutionary as indigent students of the area council have been offered the opportunity to get education within and outside Nigeria.
From the developmental strides being witnessed under the Shazin administration, it is apparent he is repositioning the area as a strategic hub for rapid socio-economic development. This is unprecedented in the history of FCT and, with his vision and commitment towards opening up the area, Kwali has the potential to follow Abuja Municipal Area Council, the headquarters of the federal government, as the next in line as the centre of excellence in the area of infrastructural development.
On revenue generation, the Shazin administration is taking various initiatives aimed at making the council self-dependent. This implies that when most of the projects he has started are completed the revenues derivable will supplement the council’s allocation from the federal government.
In recognition of the important role traditional rulers can play in maintaining peace and harmonious relationship among peoples, the Joseph Shazin administration is partnering with traditional rulers in the council. Similarly, he has decided to pay the sum of N100, 000 monthly to each of them, for the purpose of discharging their responsibilities.
In line with the transparency policy of his administration he has promised to evaluate the execution of projects under the previous administration. The essence of the policy is to ensure that resources accruing to the area council are well utilised for the benefit of the people.
Going by the giant strides in the council, it is obvious that the Shazin administration is poised to make life more meaningful for the people of the area and the impact is already being felt as many investors are now preferring to locate their businesses in Kwali.
What we are witnessing in the council is a paradigm shift and, at the end of the day, posterity will judge Shazin favourably. His future in the politics of the federal capital and Nigeria in general is assured.
Many residents of the federal capital have been showering encomiums on Shazin, for leading the way in ensuring that the needs of the generality of the people are adequately catered for, rather than the narrow interests of the privileged few.
From his developmental activities, he has demonstrated that good governance is possible and that the ‘Change’ his party, APC, promised Nigerians and Kwali people in particular are realisable. In other words, he is keeping hope alive for his people and by extension all Nigerians. That visionary leaders can make a difference.
Enekwechi writes from Abuja