Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammed Bello, has criticised Nigerians who rate successive administrations in the FCT based on the demolition exercises they carry out.
He said more often than not, nobody takes into consideration the negative impact, especially flouting stipulated laws.
According to Bello, no minister of the FCT derives joy in pulling down already erected structures but despite notices served on developers to discontinue work, they feign ignorance and continue with their work.
Bello gave these explanations on Thursday, when he featured at the 40th media briefing series coordinated by the Presidential Media Team, at the State House, Abuja.
He said when developers build houses on flood plains at the expense of the residents and they have to suffer when flash flood occurs, managers of the FCTA would have no choice than to pull down such buildings for public good.
His reactions came when he was asked
why estate lands are also affected in the latest demolition exercises, when it must have passed through diligent allocation processes from the administration.
“Maybe, I need to clarify my comment on demolitions and put it in the proper context. What I was saying is that it’s unfair for the general public to rate ministers based on destruction and demolition of property. So that is the main context as I said and I was bashed because I was not demolishing.
“But having said that, of course, we demolish and we will continue to demolish. As a matter of fact, as we are seated here, a team is demolishing somewhere already today. And these things will continue because no matter how you try, they are those who still would not want to follow regulations.
“But now I think our team has been out there, trying to explain to people. And certain demolitions are just almost inevitable. “For instance, you have to demolish illegal buildings along waterways. Because when a flash flood comes the enormous power of running water during a flash flood is something that most people don’t know but you’ve seen it, can you raise a motorway with all the weight of the motorway. So what we’ve done is we need to save lives.
“That’s why we continue to demolish and we have to construct a road made for hundreds of thousands. And somebody decides, without seeking appropriate approval, to go and build on the middle of the road. So are you going to make a detour in respect of one person to the detriment of hundreds of thousands or are you going to just move it away. So this is a fact of life, it is a two way thing.
“We try to encourage people to follow the rules and regulations because it’s all there. And then of course if you go on the wrong side of the law, we move on because as public officials, we are empowered and we have a duty, as a matter of fact, a moral obligation to do what is right for the largest number of people and that’s what has really always guided me as a public officer.
Commenting on the abundance of unoccupied estates that litter Abuja and what the government is doing to put them to good use, the minister said most of the developers apply wrong concepts in the design and building of the houses.
His words, “Unoccupied estates in Abuja is something that arose because to a very large extent, While many people wanted to go into mass housing, I think they didn’t do their research properly. Because for instance, you go and build a duplex in a place that is far from town. You make a six bedroom, all ensuite in a barrack-like-setting and you expect somebody to go and pay hundreds of millions or at least 10s of millions to buy it.
“And I felt that it doesn’t make sense for us to give you land in an area where we know that it will take 10 to 15 years for us to provide infrastructure. That way, people will go and take loans. They sell houses to off takers, some of them in the diaspora and then you build houses that people are unable to occupy. And then of course, you take a typical Maitama, Asokoro design and you put it in a satellite town, you expect that somebody will move and go buy it there.”