Barrister Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, (FCTA), is a politician who hugs the limelight effortlessly. Unlike most politicians occupying public office who struggle, and most times conjure imaginary scenarios to be noticed, Wike, by his performances, actions, and comments is always in the news. Though this inclination sometimes soaked him in controversies but he has standout as one of the notable politicians in the fourth republic. He is a performer, great one at that. Some people complain about his style and comportment but one very enduring trait about him is that, you know where he stands on any, every issue. Unlike many politicians who reprobate and approbate in their bid to be “good men” in the eyes and minds of Nigerians, Wike speaks and act from the heart; raw and undiluted. In doing this, he never shies away from political fights and battles where and when necessary. He may be loquacious but remains uninhibited, excitable, bold, courageous, and assertive.

As Governor of Rivers state between 2015 and 2023, Wike through his record-breaking performances, controversies, and all brought the “Treasure Base” to the zenith of states in Nigeria. He knew how to hold his audience – admirers and adversaries spell bound with his superlative achievements in critical sectors of the economy. From roads and bridges construction to healthcare facilities, education, security, and many others it was absolutely difficult not to recognize and applaud him. For eight years, he never gave his political adversaries and opponents the opportunity to accuse him of non-performance. On one of his visits to Rivers, impressed by the quality and depth of infrastructural development he saw and commissioned, former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo eulogised Wike and called him “Mr. Project” – a sobriquet that was undeniable. Realizing that many notable Nigerians; across political divides, religion, and ethnicity always commend Wike on his performances, the Buhari-led administration recognized and awarded him a prestigious award on projects and infrastructural development.

Following his appointment as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) by President Bola Tinubu, many Nigerians were excited and expectant that Wike will perform the “Rivers magic” in the capital city. A school of thought postulated that given the multiplicity of developmental challenges in the FCT, Tinubu requires a man with proven capacity, experience, and exposure; such as Wike to turn the tide. Another school of thought outrightly predicted that Wike would go the way of his predecessors because of high stake politicking, interplay of centrifugal forces, class and power struggle, and monumental development deficits.

For the records, Wike took office when everything was wrong with the capital city and area councils. From security to infrastructure and other sectors, it was the same negative narratives. At the time he assumed office, terrorists and people of inordinate violence had run rings round the FCT, plucking residents, who were easy targets; so routinely and striking grave fear and worries in the hearts of everyone. Deploying his experience on similar security challenges in Rivers, Wike faced it headlong. Recall we noted earlier that he relishes to fight and fights to overcome and dominate. He had countless and consistent interface with all the security structures to ascertain the problems, and how to tackle it. Through this strategy, Wike was able to break every bureaucracy, ensure effective and efficient synergies among all security agencies, and elevated monitoring and evaluation processes. What has changed in the FCT?

In few months of rigorous planning, improved provision of facilities, and sustained operations, the agents of insecurity now realized that they are contending with a different, result-driven security apparatus under a new sheriff in the FCT. The metropolis, area councils and other suburbs are better protected. Cases of one-chance, kidnapping, and other security challenges are gradually going down. Residents and visitors celebrated the Easter session and Eid-el-Fitri holidays without any major negative incident.

Having served as Minister of state, Education, and supervisory Minister of Education in President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Wike has brought his past experiences to bear in FCTA. Realizing that the problems of education in the FCTA centred around decrepit structures; widening divides between education opportunities and technological tools; skills challenge; inspectorate gaps; lack of capacity building; poor staffing and negligible remunerations, Wike rolled up his sleeves to engage the “education monster.” Among the bold steps taken to re-envision education in the FCTA includes reconstruction of 19 secondary schools with 20 more to follow in 2024; scholarship awards to over 130,000 indigent students in low and abject poverty communities; created a training and re-training scheme for teachers; mass promotion of teaching and non-teaching staff along well drawn benchmarks; payments of long-forgotten emoluments and allowances; and many other initiatives.

For a sector that rarely featured among the priority interests of many of his predecessors, Wike has re-invigorated the education sector. A senior member of the FCTA Education Secretariat who pleaded anonymity describes the education transformation as, “extremely encouraging and inspiring because within few months, Wike and the Minister of state have shown that with the right political will and sincerity of purpose things can be done. The wave of programmes and projects in the education has been surprising and gratifying.”

Prior to his deployment, the FCTA which was conceived to run as a state was structured as a ministry. It has been a misnomer and surprisingly, subsequent governments carried on like that. Wike noticed this glaring misalignment in fusing public servants of the FCTA into the scheme of the Federal Civil Service Commission. Backed with presidential approval and legislative endorsement, Wike announced the creation of the FCTA Civil Service Commission. Subsequently, with Tinubu’s approval, he announced the appointments of Chairman and Members of the FCTA Civil Service Commission; Head of Service; and 10 Permanent Secretaries. These positive developments was welcomed by the entire staff of the FCTA and Area Councils, as they now have opportunities for career growth. In addition, some staff who had suffered stunted, and delayed progression benefitted from the recent approval for promotions. To encourage staff welfare, backlog of arrears and allowances have been paid. There are plans for consistent, intensive and extensive capacity building programmes for staff in the coming months. Similarly, Wike having discovered procedural error in the composition of Mandate Secretaries, established the “Women Secretariat” to ensure an all-inclusive bureaucracy.

That the capital city has suffered infrastructural decay, particularly in the past eight years is very obvious. From roads to water, health, and transport Abuja appeared to have experienced deliberate and systemic failures. Expectedly, Wike has embarked on aggressive, and determined re-work of infrastructure in the capital city and area councils. In few months, Wike has turned Abuja to a construction sight. Driving through districts and highways within the city, one cannot miss the levels of on-going construction works. Is it the Wuse-Wuye link road; Berger-AYA Road; AYA-CBD Road; Southern Inner Road; Northern Inner Road and more? How about the re-surfacing of over 135 inner-city roads; on-going construction of roads in the area councils; construction of bridges; opening-up and expansion of facilities in Guzape and other districts and more?

Instructively, other sectors are experiencing the “Wike magic.” There are concerted effort to improve the provision and expansion of quality, potable water in the capital city through the “Greater Abuja Water Supply” scheme that is on-going. Residents and visitors to Gwarimpa, Kado, Life Camp and other locations are witnesses to the water project where site-men and labourers work even weekends to meet the deadline for completion of the project. With the passage of the 2014 Budget of the FCTA, attention will be on massive upgrade, and provision of facilities at the Wuse, Gwarimpa, and other General Hospitals. The Utako General Hospital, which was a Public Private Partnership but witnessed decade-long contractual infractions has been reviewed, and construction works would start before the end of 2024.

For now, like or loathe him, Wike has distinguished himself as one of the brilliant contributors to the realization of Tinubu’s “Renewed Hope” agenda. His choice and masterful deliveries has further confirmed Tinubu’s status as one who knows how to identify and pick talents for excellence in public service. Not minding the shameless efforts of political opponents, adversaries and haters, the vast majority of Abuja residents, visitors and many Nigerians are impressed with Wike’s transformation initiatives for the FCT; the seat of power. That he few months, Wike and his team have being able to record strides that previous ministers were unable to do requires commendation not criticism; applause not jeers; good wishes not negative thoughts; prayers not curses.

Like the popular dictum, “reward for hard work is more work” one hopes that Wike will not relent and slow-down in the impressive works he is doing. He should realise that the prayers and good wishes of apolitical Nigerians, who are majority are always with him. Without sounding political, Wike being the first southerner, in about five decades to occupy the office should do everything humanly possible to write his name in “quadruple gold” after his tour of duty as the FCTA Minister.



* NONSO CHIBUZOR, is an Abuja based Public Policy Analyst

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