fct-ministe-bala-mohammed

One good reality about Constitutional democracy being practiced in Nigeria today is that no constituted authority can lord itself over another, no matter the hierarchy differential. Federal authority, for instance, cannot exercise naked power over State Government authorities just because it is the apex power in Nigeria. In the same vein, State government cannot by mere executive fiat, instruct local government/ Area Councils authorities to do its bidding just because it is higher in authority hierarchy. Relationship between the Federal, States and Local Government Areas/Area Councils authorities is constitutionally provided. Any association between these three tiers of government outside the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is null and void and tantamount to impunity of the highest order, it stands condemned in totality.The directive by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory [FCT], Senator Bala Mohamed, just before Sallah break, to the six [6] area councils to henceforth stop the collection of ?illegal? tenement rate in their respective area councils, on the ground that residents of the Federal Capital Territory are being double taxed, appeared to have offended relevant sections of the Constitution with respect to Constitutional relationship between FCT administration and Area Councils authorities.

 

This writer believes that if Bala Mohamed led FCT authority has evidence of double taxation as being alleged, one of the ways of solving the problem is to call for a meeting between the area councils authorities and the FCT where the issue will be tabled and dealt with expeditiously.Going by the newspapers reports on the matter, one may be tempted to inquire into what constitute ?Double Taxation?. If double taxation means that AMAC and the other area councils are in the habit of collecting tenement rate from residents of FCT more than once every year, when in actual fact, they are suppose to pay just once. The follow up question will be, are those being taxed so helpless that they cannot seek redress in court? If on the other hand, the Double Taxation is as result of Senator Bala Mohamed?s led FCTA feeling that the people of FCT are paying too much in tenement rate and it should stop, this writer thinks the appropriate response will be the summoning of Stakeholders meeting by FCT authorities, where the problem will be trashed out.Every educated person in Nigeria knows that outsource of some aspect of government functions did not start today.? Federal, States and local government authorities have come to embrace Public, Private Partnership [PPP] since the return of democracy in 1999.

 

It is on the basis of PPP that the current Bus Service System, popularly known as ?El- Rufai bus? in FCT is being run. The Park and Pay System for vehicles parking on the roads, order than in car parks in FCT, introduced by Senator Bala Mohammed led FCT administration, though later quashed by court, was another PPP programme. There are many PPP projects that are ongoing at the Federal level. It may not be proper for FCT administration to base its unconstitutional directive on tenement rate to AMAC and other area councils on the complaints it received from public. The principle of fair hearing demands that upon receipt of such complaints, FCT administration should have summoned AMAC and other Councils allegedly involved with a view to understanding their position on the matter, so as to establish the true situation of things. While not holding brief for AMAC, there is the possibility that AMAC, just like FCT hired consultants to collect revenue on behalf of the Council. To refer to those collecting rates on behalf of AMAC as touts without investigation may not be correct.What appears shocking on the whole issue is the report on the tenement rate collection saga published in Peoples Daily of Tuesday, September 23, 2014, is the manner of the comment purportedly credited to the Minister of FCT Senator Bala Mohammed. It tended to portray Senator Bala, who is a ranking legislator as been undemocratic in decision making. According to the report, one Rueben Okoya, the Coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council [AMMC] who spoke for Senator Mohammed, quoted the Distinguished Senator thus: ?it was brought to the notice of FCT and after discussing it extensively, the minister then directed that permanent secretary should write to the chairman of AMAC, to ensure that no illegal rates should be collected by anybody on behalf of the council. The tenement rates have their ways of being collected by the FCT administration, ?- ?And so what the committee did was to write to AMAC chair, to say any rate you are collecting legally, and then, continue??.

 

It simply did not add-up to allege that AMAC collects illegal rates in its domain, when we know that schedule 4 of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria empowers it to generate funds for the development of the grass-root. If the claim of FCT administration had been that, it had reports that some people are posing as consultants to AMAC to dupe the residents of FCT in the name of tenement rate, this writer would have no problem with it; but to foist a fait accompli on Hon. Micah Jiba led AMAC over the complaints of people who may have ulterior political motive in the first place, is the height of crucifixion without fair hearing.My worry however, is that the said directive emanated from Senator Bala Mohammed led FCT administration. As an accomplished lawmaker, Senator Mohammed knows the implication of one sided judgment. He also knows that sound decision on critical matter like this, comes from thorough investigation of any alleged wrong doing, after hearing from both parties in dispute. If it is true that the directive in question stemmed from his instruction, it would have been tantamount to he, Senator Bala? writing a guilty report on a ministry ?he was in charge of, without first, embarking on oversight function of the ministry as required by the Constitution of the federal republic of? Nigeria, when he was a serving Senator. This, he never did. Why now? Senator Bala?s instruction to AMAC on tenement rates might have been democratically directed, but mischievously written by those saddled with that responsibility, I want to believe. Information Management Consultant & Political Researcher

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