The Director/CEO, Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) recently fielded questions from the crew of NTA’s weekly programme, Focus on FCT.
Below are some of the pictures and events at the exciting session.
Question: What is AGIS all about?
Response: AGIS as we all know is an acronym for Abuja Geographic Information Systems. It is one of those Agencies created following the dissolution of the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory (MFCT) that gave birth to Secretariats, Departments and Agencies in 2004. AGIS was given the mandate for the computerization of cadastral of survey records as well as the Land records. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is a technology that is being used globally in the administration of land especially as it relates to city management, the AGIS GIS infrastructure is designed to provide that service.
Abuja is a world class city in the making and for the FCT Administration to manage the world class city globally you need the GIS technology because GIS provides you location information and it provides you with a lot of data that you have in a container where you digitize, you gather data, you process, you analyse and you get results. Results in terms of City planning. You need such data in terms of day-to-day administration of land, you need it in terms of security you need strategies, your special data in terms of utility services like water and electricity. Waste management, including demographic information, you also need such technology for taxation and transportation as well. You can see a typical application of GIS technology in administration that we use for map navigation. So in the FCT AGIS was established at the beginning to computerize the records so we need to bring in the baseline data. What is a baseline data? It’s the data that has to do with the Abuja master plan so it has to be in the records for the master plan has to be digitized fully so that you can see the location of all the roads infrastructure fully digitized about the cadastral that shows the plots and the owners will have to be captured into the system. Now, once you get that done, then you can move on for example, you have an allocation, you have your records fully captured in AGIS, then you can go to Development Control or the Department where you want to apply for building plan approval so that the department will require what to confirm that you have a title so they can now access this information and then they grant you building plan approval. In the process of accessing such information, they will also return some information back so that we get to know in the administration of Land, the Minister will get to know from our records that such Land he gave out had been granted building plan approval and so on, hand, the nature of the building can also be captured.
Question: What is the Mandate of the Agency?
Response: As it is contained in the order, AGIS is given the mandate for the generation, management, and administration of Geo-spatial data infrastructure in the FCT. Geo-spatial data is critical to Land administration and management of the City. As a result, AGIS was created specifically to ensure the management of the Land records as well as provide customer services in Land administration in the FCT, this is one of the contents in the order* and since then we have been operating under the mandate. However, along the line, the other mandate of the Land matters was handed over to the Department of Land* Administration, that was in 2008. It was separated from AGIS, we demanded for allocation and issuance of title however, those processes that had to do with allocation will have to go through AGIS because data will have to be digitized in the AGIS records and other stakeholder- Departments which are Department of Urban and Regional planning, Mapping and Survey because they are under the Federal Capital Development Authority and Urban and Regional Planning is the custodian of the master plan and is the Department responsible for the development of the master plan as well as maintenance so that their data will be sent to AGIS for us to digitize. Like I said, before any allocation that has been made, the data will have to be in our records and we also capture survey records. With the planning records and survey records those are the data that have been providing field data to us which we digitize and make available to the Department of Land Administration to do allocation. In addition, after allocation, we are expected to pay some fees and so such fees are supposed to be captured ‘paid’ in our records. So we collect the payment for such fees like statutory land fees like CofO fees and then following which you also get your C of O, so the CofO will have to be processed. Now the processing of the C of O is the responsibility of AGIS we process the CofO and then the title deed plan will be signed by the Director, Survey and Mapping and then the Department of Land Administration will schedule your C of O for execution by the Honourable Minister following which it will return back to us for data capture and again the Land Department will issue you the C of O. Now in terms of these processes, we work together with other Departments. It’s a stakeholders’ group to deliver services in Land Administration.
Question: Can you share with us your Achievements over the years?
Response: Well, first and foremost, if we recall, before AGIS, the Land records were being kept manually in the register and they were using typewriters and then also the survey records were kept on intelligent sheets and so on. All that is gone now, if people will recall, there was this exercise of recertification, individuals were asked to bring their old CofOs for a new AGIS CofO. In the process, we have been able to capture such records and the first thing we did like I said earlier, was to capture them into the AGIS system which is a major achievement, the entire Abuja master plan, the road networks, the plot information and so on which are there in the records. So when you apply for rectification it will capture your records. So we have been able to achieve that, as far. As the City is concerned, we have captured all the records in the City, so this is a major achievement. Not only did we do that, we have been able to bring in a lot of revenue for the Administration, the revenue that was being generated in the past was so small but now its revenue annually is running into billions of Naira and this is very important, we need revenue to manage the City. In addition also, we have been able to run a system that is very transparent, that is why in Land Administration, there is so much transparency, for example you apply you want to say for example buy a property, you can apply for search in AGIS and within 24 hours we can tell you that that property exists and it is genuine, now this is a major achievement which was not available in the past and that has brought a lot of transparency and so on. Now we also have captured some records from the Area Councils, this is one record that is ongoing we are hoping that we are going to look at that also. We also have been able to bring this information to other stakeholder Departments for example, Development Control that controls development, we have been able to achieve a lot in that direction when the Abuja master plan was restored, AGIS has provided data, analyse data for the restoration of the master plan. If there are encroachments on sewer systems, by the time we lay the system, we turn on the underground industrial information we can see the level of encroachment and so on. So this is very key in terms of Land Administration. If you go into Google, you navigate that data, it is because of the data that has been captured into AGIS, so that takes you to a house, the street naming and house numbering was done by AGIS if you recall in phase one of the City, so this is also one major achievement I would like to say. Now like I said over time the institution will establish, staff that have been trained, foreigners were managing the System but Nigerians took over since 2010 and over the years we have been able to refine and improve the system using the local capacity. The upgrades were done with the support of the foreign technical partners, but was done in-house by our own staff, they carry out the physical upgrade installations and that is under the guidance of our foreign consultants and they did very well and I am happy to say that the same technology has been used in other States of the Federation and so has been bringing in a lot of money to other States as well, so this I believe is one major achievement.
Question: Besides encroachments, what are the challenges the Agency is confronted with at the moment?
Response: Well there are a lot of challenges. You know challenges come in different forms, one of such challenges is the issue of power which everybody is experiencing., you know it’s a technology Agency that you have to run an IT Infrastructure and that infrastructure is high-end Enterprise class that requires constant power, and you have some servers you don’t shut down 24/7 , you know 7 days a week, 12 calendar months, you have to keep the system running so you need power and that’s why we had to use a hybrid system which is solar based public utility at the same time you need cooling, so you need generators as well., So the high cost of fuel is an issue when it comes to operation and then when the public supply is not that good then you have high cost of maintenance and you know your budget is very tight nobody will envisage that throughout the year the price will go like this, so when you do budget it’s based on the reality at that time but sometime last year, everything went up so I was a challenge because the provision has been made, what do you do? So we are very lucky that we had to manage the system based on the solar technology, and also sometimes delay in the budget appropriation, it takes some time. Like the AGIS appropriation FCT 2022 came very late and so on, so it’s
kind of difficult to operate so I am hoping that the National Assembly will address most of these issues you know., and then another challenge is some professionals that we had and trained over time they leave us because the pay in NNPC or in the banks are better, so by the time we train and they leave us so we had to bring again another set to continue to train and train.
Question: You now have this platform to speak to FCT residents. How can they make your job easy?
Response: Well first, they will make our job easy, let them pay their statutory land fees because we need funding to run the Agency, so they must pay their ground rent, very important, because if you don’t pay your ground rent, you can lose your title, that’s the law as contained in the Land use Act. So they must pay their ground rent which is paid at the beginning of the year like we are expecting in advance for them to pay their 2023. There is now a ministerial committee to recover all outstanding ground rents and people are going to be taken to court. Government has provided services, roads, water, waste management to your plot and you are not paying the statutory fee but this time around we are going to recover all and if you don’t pay within the deadline, then it means you are going to be taken to court.