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Reps plan reversal of Abuja land swap scheme 


Loyola Jesuit College, in Abuja

The House of Representatives has vowed to reverse the land swap policy in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) initiated by former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the lower chamber, the decision is premised on its resolution via its legislative agenda to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste in the conduct of government business.

The House Committee on FCT which faulted the initiative said the programme is a negation of the provisions of the original Abuja Master Plan and misplacement of priority in the direction of physical development of the city.

To the panel, if the programme is allowed to materialize, it will only succeed in creating development islands and a brazen evidence of uncoordinated development as well as hurried mortgage of the future of the federal capital city.

Chairman of the Committee, Herman Iorwuese Hembe, who gave the indication for reversal of the policy during a meeting with officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) led by the Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, last week, said the original master plan for Abuja was designed in a way that the land use, infrastructure, housing, transportation, recreation, economic and social services are coordinated and interrelated. Hembe said the immediate past administration in the territory abandoned these principles, thereby allowing a series of distortions to the concept, direction and implementation of the master plan.

Currently, distortions to the developments are very clear, with evidence in the green belt, encroachment on sewer lines, water pipelines and into highway corridors. Development of residential buildings on plots allocated for educational institutions and recreational services has become the order of the day. This has practically defeated both the environmental and architectural vision,” he said.

The lawmakers who faulted the land swap initiative expected to be a pilot programme, but eventually launched to cover eight undeveloped districts of the city, specifically cited Durumi, Katampe, Duboyi and Dutse districts, all in Phase Two of the city, which they claim have no infrastructure to date.

Hembe, who claimed that communities were neither incorporated nor considered in the land deal with the investors under the land swap policy, said: “Nigerians generally were not consulted on the programme that could engulf 15 districts of the city thereby making the initiative an intention to perpetrate fraud and corruption.”

Earlier, the FCT Minister, Bello, had expressed the commitment of the current administration to partner with the National Assembly to make Abuja a better city.

Bello said the partnership would specifically focus on reviewing some of the outdated laws, which are relevant in the management of a modern city like Abuja. He promised to cooperate with the committee in carrying out its oversight functions, which will assist the administration to move the territory to greater heights.

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