All presidential aspirants and political parties with offices within residential areas and diplomatic zones have been ordered by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to vacate such buildings ahead of party primaries for the 2019 elections.
The Nation reports that this was contained in a notice signed by Umaru Shuaib, coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC).
The aspirants who are affected by this directive have been reportedly given a month deadline from July 9 when the directive was issued.
Among those affected include: Ibrahim Shekarau, former governor of Kano state, Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa state and Jerry Gana, former minister of information.
Tanimu Kabir Turaki , former minister of special duties is also among the 35 of the 68 registered parties affected by the order.
The affected aspirants and parties have up till August 9, to vacate their offices or have the building sealed off, as the FCT claimed that the location of the party and campaign offices “undermine public safety and jeopardise comfort and conveniences.
Though some of the affected parties have expressed willingness to abide by the directive, others and their aspirants have condemned the move as “ill-timed and sheer intolerance of the opposition” by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking on behalf of the Tanimu Kabiru Turaki Campaign Organisation, Sola Atere, director of media and publicity, said the directive is an “attempt to intimidate the opposition”. He was quoted by the Nation to have said that:
“There was no prior discussion; neither was there any notification nor letter given to us. Yet, we have been paying statutory bills to Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and FCT Water Board and they have been collecting and sending bills since we started using the premises in February this year”.
“The building was being used for commercial purposes before we came in. We are even neighbours to a federal government agency, Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation. Why have they neglected to enforce their regulations in places such as Gwarinpa residential estate where houses on major avenues have been converted to malls in many cases?
“There is this perception that it is an attempt to intimidate the opposition”.
For Alfa Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP): “Such a notice is mischievous and sheer intolerance of the opposition. The FCTA never gave such a directive in the past but why now?
“At a critical time when the 2019 poll is about four to five months away, you don’t begin to introduce a policy to drive parties underground.
“We know that if a party is the target, many parties can be sacrificed to reach a target”.
For the Shekarau Campaign Organisation, they will comply with the directive, same as the Peoples Democratic Movement.