ABUJA: SLUM OF A CAPITAL CITY

This land now called Nigeria even before it came to be has always had its capital city established purely on convenience rather than the...


This land now called Nigeria even before it came to be has always had its capital city established purely on convenience rather than the contending factors that usually characterize the siting of any capital city world over.

Many would not know that the first headquarter of this nation was at Lokoja in the present day Kogi State where lord Lugard officially settled and made his first proclamation on first January 1900, It was at the bank  of the River Niger which provided access through which captured slaves  and other looted materials of economic values were ferried abroad.From the 16th century when the Spanish settled in Calabar to 1912 in Lagos and finally to Abuja in 1991,all the moves were motivated basically for the personal benefit and convenience of the colonial masters and some zones.

Abuja which prides herself as one of the fastest growing capital city in Africa had gulped trillions of dollars into its development, a centrally concentrated city that is not the size of my home community, Nsukka-the largest LGA in Nigeria. Since Gen. Murtala  Mohammed  proclaimed Abuja a ‘no man’s land’ on 9th August, 1975 and set up a panel to examine the feasibility of relocating the country’s capital city from Lagos to Abuja, the Kpaduma low income community of nine ethnic groups with over one million people have never been the same.These peace loving natives of Abuja who have lived here for over 40,000 years maintain that the ‘heart of a new Nigeria’ is tilted as the tenureship of the land has not been properly ratified.Owing to this barefaced betrayal of trust of the original agreement entered with the federal government and with no one speaking for them; human right groups and other NGOs not able to rise to the occasion to defend them all waiting for international grants for the work they didn’t do, the aborigines now prefer to sell their lands to visitors rather than lose it uncompensated to an unfeeling government. So there is this new attitude of callously selling lands with arbitrariness at a give away price to forestall government insincere takeover without due recompense.

These natives are often preyed by the mercantile business men and women who develop those sites and either sell them at a very exorbitant price or leave them unrented. At least if the government cannot provide affordable houses for its people, there should be a price tag that every landlord or town developer must not exceed and a property tax law be in place and fully implemented to check the excesses of these insensitive capitalist.

Some unscrupulous money spinners have equally latched on this defect in the system by erecting illegal and unsupervised structures. Just on the 28thof august 2016, eight persons were eclipsed at Gwarimpa by a collapsed four storey building with two lives lost glaringly due to the use of sub-standard materials, non adherence to the guidelines of the regulatory bodies, constant patronage to and bad handling by quacks. No proper channel for sewage disposal. Dutse Alhaji is another Aba in the FCT where water cistern is dug and channeled into the gutters. The health sanitation officers or authority incharge should sit up before an epidemic breaks out there.


Abuja is the seat of power in Nigeria where political powers are supposed to be equitably distributed, where revenues accruing from all over the country are shared. If the kpadumas’ could selflessly vacate their lands for us all, if the black gold from the Niger Delta thousands of kilometers to Abuja deceptively referred to as our common natural resources could sustain the whole nation then I don’t see anything bad in having a non northerner as the minister of FCT. How many chairmanship candidates from the other zones of the country were fielded by the two major political parties in the just concluded municipal council election in FCT. There is no intentional consideration and understanding for equitable distribution of political power that would engender cohesion and unity typical of a capital territory and this is not good for the polity.

When I embarked on the tour of suburbs in Abuja, at Dutse Alhaji, I waved down a motorcyclist ‘going’ in the Abuja parlance, after I explained my mission to him he asked if I could ride so that I could do it myself and return his motorcycle to him. Although I declined but it was just like that. He was a Fulani guy. No shadow of suspicion, the bond among us ‘commoners’ is very deep. But our leaders and the so called elite don’t appreciate us so they don’t trust themselves.

Security issue is another challenge in the FCT. Vandals are on the rampage in Abuja with majority of the Chinese installed CCTV whisked away already. And why not when something more precious; as sacred as life could be sniffed away recklessly without anyone being apprehended. Since the brutal murder of Deaconess Eunice Elisha around pipeline area of Kubwa, a suburb of FCT Abuja while seeking the salvation of her people, no genuine step has been taken to bring those serial killers to face the full wrath of the law. Tell me which nation’s capital city in the world can you find unexposed and knowledge stripped religious fanatics as we have here?

It beats common sense that FCT has never been adjudged the cleanest in this country. A city originally planned not for towering structures alone but with deep sense of aesthetics and sightly appeal infused into it. But with refuse dumps rising to sky scrapers, beggars and  hawkers littering the streets and with cattle grazers having their field’s days in residential quarters, FCT is gradually loosing it. Enough of churning out laws without strict enforcement! Let’s make FCT decent again. In 2008, the then minister, modibbo banned smoking in public places but the essence is defeated as the ban has proved counter productive with FCT now ranking close to Katsina in that respect.

Even with the coven of the network of one of the oldest profession smashed in the FCT, those of them who have not secured jobs in beer parlours where they also trade themselves now resort to hawking coloured liquid in the name of herbal medicine just to get access to their old standing customers.

It is a shame on our collective nobility! This calls for restructuring and proper reorientation of Abuja environmental protection board which had been found wanton on enforcing the environmental laws to make them more efficient. Abuja should serve as a pilot scheme; for the people at the suburbs, if the government fails, the people cannot fail too. A trip of laterite to fill up the potholes won’t be too much of a sacrifice. It will show how patriotic and civilized we have become. In Anambra State many of the tarred roads were built by individuals. Whatever we want to see done in the states and local governments must first be done here for them to emulate and then clone. There are no world class industries in FCT other than the foreign construction companies where our people have been slavishly forced to work like the Israelites under the ancient Egyptians. Unless if we have in mind to keep Abuja purely as an administrative center, its master plan should be extended to the suburbs and satellite towns and Abuja would burst economically.

                                                                    EZE CHUKWUDI JOHNCATO
A Social Crusader and the Leader Ndi Nsukka Asadu Ideke Alumona Leadership Forum writes in FCT, Abuja.


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EXPLICIT INFORMATION: ABUJA: SLUM OF A CAPITAL CITY
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EXPLICIT INFORMATION
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