Honourable Haruna Shekwolo, one of the chairmanship aspirants for the Bwari Area Council, has identified ways the council could foster development in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Shekwolo, who has served as a supervisory councillor on environment and sanitation in the council, identified unemployment, social amenities as the major obstacles of development in the FCT.
In an EXCLUSIVE chat with DAILY POST, Shekwolo, who said he joined politics to enable him to gain access to authorities for the development of the Bwari Area Council, said some economic crisis bedevilling the area could be curtailed if residents are empowered to be self-dependent.
“I am driven with the passion to contribute my quota to the development of Bwari Area Council. I have discovered that for anyone to effectively impact the lives of people, you must follow the path of politics. If you are a civil servant and you want any project in your community, you must lobby. But if you are a politician and you have the red biro, you can approve it.
“I also discovered that our people (the locals) need empowerment. There is a need for human capital development. Our local women selling on the streets, for instance, need to be empowered. This does not take the Area Council anything to give these women a certain amount of money as interest-free loan to boost their business and ask them to return the money at an agreed period of time”, he said.
Speaking on the level of unemployment facing the youths in the FCT, Shekolo said “we all know that there are no jobs for the teaming graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions today. So alternatively, there is a need for the youths to look for something tangible to be doing. They could learn handiwork that could help them”.
According to the chairmanship aspirant, it is the duty of the Council to open a skill acquisition centre where the unemployed youths would be trained and given start-up capital with which they would buy their working tools to establish themselves.
He said that the training could be in the area of “catering, plumbing, electronics, tailoring, handset repair and so on. I believe these are simple but viable handiwork that would take our teaming unemployed youths off the streets if they are properly trained and empowered.”
Shekwolo continued, “On education, in FCT here, the building of school structures are under UBEB. The salaries of school staff are under Area Councils. But this does not stop the Area Council from giving some needed support to them because they are the closest people to the locals. Today we have some classrooms without seats for the pupils/students and some classes without roofs. These are some areas that the Area Council can come in.
“You will also agree with me that Bwari Area Council is second in FCT when it comes to landmark and IGR after AMAC. There are ways Bwari Area Council can generate revenue but the reason why the Council is not generating revenue is simple; Social amenities and infrastructures must be provided by the government for the people to be able to pay their royalties. Why Lagos people pay royalties today without asking questions is because what they needed to ask questions on, are being provided for them by the government.
“Ushafa you know before has only one access road until I became the Supervisory Councilor of Environment and Sanitation. I used my office to persuade SCC Construction Company to construct the new SSC road bridge. Not only that, we also provided land for the community senior secondary school. Today Ushafa community has about 1.3 hectares of land where the secondary school will be moved to.
“Ushafa is not a community that is hiding. Bwari Area Council is not hiding. For instance, people pass Ushafa and Bwari Area Council on daily basis to Kaduna. The location of the Nigerian Law School and JAMB Headquarters in Bwari has also put Bwari Area Council on the world map. With that, there is the need for a better plan for Bwari Area Council in terms of road, solar street lights on the major roads to make them more colourful”.
On scholarship, the aspirant said, “there is a need for the Area Council to send, at least, one student from each Ward on scholarship to study medicine abroad because we have clinics that need the attention of doctors.
“If you send medical students on scholarship and upon return, you ask them to work under the Area Council on the payroll of the Council, they will. These are some of the things we are passionate about that if, given the opportunity to serve, we will improve on them. We believe power comes from God. We are trusting Him to give us the power to get there”.