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Senate seeks political and administrative structures for FCT Area Councils

Bewildered by the fact that the Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) still function under the extant 1976 Local Government Edict of Niger State, the Senate of sen philip aduda tanimu  the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday sought to ‘liberate’ the Area Councils by formulating an Act for its administrative and political autonomy.

Presiding over plenary, the Deputy Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, remarked that this had become necessary as the National Assembly currently serves as a House of Assembly to the Federal Capital Territory, through a bill sponsored by Senator Philip T. Aduda (FCT) seeking to provide for the Administrative and Political Structure of Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory.

The Federal Capital Territory is home to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city and was formed in 1976 from parts of present day Nasarawa, Niger and Kogi States in order to take the pressure off Lagos State (Nigeria’s former capital) and provide a more centrally located and geographically acceptable capital city for a relatively young nation that had just gained independence from many decades of British rule.

The FCT has 6 Area Councils, namely; Abaji, Abuja Municipal, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali Area Councils and although it officially became Nigeria’s capital city on December 12th 1991, it was still operating on old laws.

Describing the proposed act as a ‘modern and dynamic law’, Senator Aduda put forth the 5 part law that dealt with adumbrated issues under Section 7 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, comprising 67 sections with 3 schedules.

Parts 1 and 2 of the law included general provisions for the division of the Area Councils into Wards and Boundaries with accompanying periodic elections and change of governments as well as the institution of a legislative council for the Area Councils comprising its own Speaker, Staff, Councillors, their qualification or disqualification,  declaration of assists and liabilities and the establishment of their own consolidated revenue fund, contingency funds, remuneration for Council chairmen and other office holders among other complementary matters.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 however dealt with the operations of the offices of the executive arm of the Area council, its public service, code of conduct and miscellaneous provisions affecting its economy and fiscal subsistence.

As to the financial implications, Senator Aduda highlighted that the bill would not incur any form of public expenditure as the Area Councils of the FCT are already in existence and accordingly financed by the Federal Government, making its enactment a simple necessity to fulfil a requirement placed on the National Assembly by the Constitution.

Buttressing the need for a piece of legislation to cater for the composition, structure, finance and related administrative duties for these FCT Area Councils, Senator Aduda stressed that this befitting bill was long overdue and that it was fortified by the provisions of section 303 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that articulates thus: ‘The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, shall comprise of 6 Area Councils and the administrative and political structure therefore shall be as provided by an Act of the National Assembly.

In the ensuing debate, former FCT minister and current Senator, Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) said that although the current 1976 laws governing the Area Councils were revised in 1984, nothing had since been done.

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