Nyesom Wike, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has decreased the charge for issuance of Certificates of Occupancy (C-of-Os) for plots of land in Abuja from N5 million to N3.5 million.

Mr Wike had demonstrated days back that there would be a review downward of the C-of-O expense, which, he kept up, maybe a level rate for all sizes of land regardless of the area of the land within the FCT.

“Issuance of Certificates of Occupancy will presently fetch N3.5 million, a lessening from the already proposed taken a toll of N5 million,” the explanation by the Chief of Press within the minister’s office said, citing Mr Wike as saying amid the media briefing on Friday.

But Mr Wike said the instalment of the N3.5 million would not apply for re-certification, but as it were for the issuance of unused certificates.

“Those who have C-of-O don’t get to pay this cash. The most noteworthy you’ll be able to pay is perhaps N50,000 and for corporate bodies, perhaps N100,000 because you as of now have C-of-O. All you’re doing is to recertify in arrange to consolidate these modern features,” Wike said.

The minister said the decision to reduce the cost of C-of-O was based on the recommendations of the Task Force set up on the issuance of the certificate in mass housing estates and recovery of land use contravention fees.

The Taskforce had proposed the payment of N5 million which was largely objected to by key players in the real estate industry and FCT residents, according to the statement.

It added that this prompted the setting up of an “interface between estate developers as well as residents’ associations”..

The minister had, during that meeting, hinted at the possibility of a downward review of the cost of issuance of the land document.

He equally stated that new security features such as the National Identification Number (NIN) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) for individuals and corporate organisations, respectively, would be incorporated in the new certificates.

Speaking on the efforts to improve revenue generation in the FCT, the FCT Minister also reiterated that the FCT Administration will enforce the payment of property tax and ground rent, warning that those who fail to pay will have their allocations revoked. He stressed that to shore up IGR, payment of ground rent has to be enforced.

He said: “Over the years, nobody has been able to enforce the payment of ground rent. I came on board and I said okay, it can’t be business as usual. You have property, you are given a C of O to back up your property. In that C of O, you are told to be paying annual ground rent. For the past 15 years, you didn’t pay. Some people, for the past 20 years, they never paid.

“And you know Nigerians, they said nothing will happen. I came and said something would happen and they have to pay. Seeing that we mean what we have said, if you don’t pay, we will revoke and we have been doing that, people are now queuing up to pay. Go to AGIS, people are queuing up and that has now increased our IGR.”

He said IGR in the FCT has increased from a monthly collection of N14 billion to over N20 billion.

To ensure that capital projects get priority attention, the Minister revealed that adjustments would be made to the FCT budgeting process, with 70 per cent of the budget dedicated to capital projects, while the other 30 per cent will be utilized for overhead expenditure.

Speaking on critical ongoing projects in the FCT, including the Abuja mass rail transit scheme, the Minister assured that they would be completed before May 2024 to coincide with the celebration of the one-year anniversary of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

He added that provisions have also been made for funding the projects in the FCT 2023 supplementary budget, adding that the contractors executing the projects have given assurances that the projects will be completed within schedule.

The Minister equally revealed that the FCT would be launching its mass transportation buses and taxis next month to ply the routes of Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse and Garki, following which tricycles, popularly called Kepe Napep, operation in the city centre would be phased out by January 2024.

The Minister added that the FCTA would also be spending about N600 million to repair the mass transit buses in its fleet which would also be deployed in various routes to ease the transportation.

“We are launching vehicles for the mass transit in December. Again, it’s part of the supplementary budget we submitted for Mr. President to transmit to the National Assembly. The fund is there. We are anticipating that the National Assembly will pass it. We have started the procurement process so that as it comes, we will not be delayed.

“We have the money in our account. All we are seeking is approval by the National Assembly for us to be able to spend”.

While lamenting the increasing wage bill of the FCT Administration, Barrister Wike, promised to carry out a forensic audit exercise of staff to determine the actual staff strength of the FCTA.

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