Governor Nasir El-Rufai says he mounted pressure on the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to dissolve the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a ministry and coverted same to an FCT Administration.
El-Rufai, who stated this at the swearing-in of new High Court Judges, Commissioners and Members of Statutory Commissions and Chief Executives of Kaduna State Government agencies on Friday, said he encountered difficulties running the FCT as a ministry when he was appointed as Minister by Obasanjo.
He said the decision to transform the ministry to FCT Administration ushered in robust development in the nation’s capital city, saying such rapid infrastructure growth is expected in the newly created Kaduna, Zaria and Kafanchan metropolitan cities in the state.
His words : “I tried to run the Federal Capital Territory through a ministry. In the end, I had to convince President Obasanjo to dissolve the Ministry of the FCT and create the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). The Ministry of Local Government exists as an administrative structure, notwithstanding the constitutional status of local governments, and there is no doubt that the Commissioner of Local Government has authority over the elected local government chairmen.
“Abuja is perhaps the only city in Nigeria managed as an integrated unit, despite the existence of six area councils within the Federal Capital Territory. The administrators of our metropolitan authorities are similar to the Minister of the FCT to whom everyone knows the president has delegated the powers to run the nation’s capital as a single entity. Our metropolitan administrators in Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria will exercise similar powers and responsibilities in their designated areas as the Minister of the FCT does in Abuja.”
While congratulating the new judges, El-Rufai faulted the system of judiciary being operated in the country, describing it as unitary.
” I congratulate the new High Court judges on their appointment. Left to us, we should be swearing in many more persons as judges today. The credibility and effectiveness of the law and order strategy depends on the speedy dispensation of justice. Speedy justice cannot be dispensed by overworked judges. We want to lighten the burden of our judges but our ability to appoint more of them is constrained because the National Judicial Council has to recommend to us to appoint.
“This is an anomaly introduced by the drafters of the 1999 Constitution who effectively foisted a unitary judiciary on a federation. We hope that the ongoing constitutional review process will remedy this contradiction so that we can double the number of high court judges we have in Kaduna State because we can pay for them, we can take care of them and we can lighten their workload accordingly.
“To the new commissioners appointed to administer the cities of Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria as integrated, organic cities, I can only say that I wish you every success in translating this administrative innovation into a successful reality. You can count on our support in the hard work required.
“Already, it is obvious that some people do not understand the concept of the metropolitan authorities. Our major cities are bigger than the local government councils into which they have been balkanized. For instance, for planning purposes, the boundaries of Kaduna metropolis are 40km radius from the Post Office. We need a structure to manage this metropolis and the many needs of the people and businesses who live in Kaduna and feel it as Kaduna metropolis, not three or four local governments. The Kaduna Capital Territory did this job until the late 1970s. The replacement structures that came after the 1976 local government reforms have not worked as well as the capital territory administrative structure did. That is why we are going back to it.
” Our new metropolitan authorities are not local government councils or local government development areas, or an arm of any of these. They are not a new tier of government. The metropolitan authorities are an administrative structure to manage our cities. They are designed to remove the chaos that has resulted from the divided attention paid to cities in Nigeria by the creation of many Local Government Councils within their boundaries of one city.
“The functions that are delegated to the metropolitan authorities are those that no local government council in Nigeria carries out effectively or satisfactorily, if at all. That is why many states try to carry out these functions directly, often through the Ministry of Local Government, but you cannot run a city effectively through the structures of such a ministry, ” he said.