If you are coming into Abuja for the first time, you would marvel at the beauty and splendour of the Federal Capital City with wide stretch, well-manicured roads especially from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport into the city central area. In the day, you would see some of the most exotic cars you can find anywhere in the world being driven by Senators and other federal lawmakers, top civil servants and businessmen/ women among other privileged members of the society. Watching Abuja city in the night gives a blaze of glamour. But what you see at the city centre is a big lie, a farce and an unscrupulous deceit masking the current realities of Abuja. What is known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja is made up six Area Councils.
Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) is just one of the areas that make up Abuja. The Abuja City Centre comprising Maitama, Wuse, Garki among a few others are all part of AMAC where successive administration have concentrated developments at the detriment of the other five Area Councils. Even Kurudu, Azahta, Nyanya, Karu, Jikwoyi and several other communities that make up AMAC are not taken into consideration when it comes to development planning by the various Ministers that have governed the FCT. But the worst administration so far is that of the current Minister Alhaji Bala Mohammed.
When it was earlier made public that the Minister would be leaving President Jonathan’s cabinet to contest the governorship election in his home state, Bauchi, many residents heaved a sigh of relief but were shocked later when news came that the Minister was staying back ‘to continue his good work.’
Not even Armageddon that is being awaited by members of the Jehovah’s Witness sect could compare to the commotion, the apprehension and the secondby- second near-death experience that you encounter driving from Asokoro District to either of Nyanya or old Karu both in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
You would be shocked to your marrows to see several hundreds of motorcyclists riding against the traffic and coming towards you like a swarm of locusts. Remember that motorcycle (Okada) riding has been banned in Abuja Metropolis since the days Nasir El- Rufai administered the FCT. The ban has also been sustained even by the current administration which has on several occasions issued threats that it would deal with anybody violating the law. Now, Okada riders do not just enter the city, hundreds of them ride against the traffic both in the mornings and in the evenings causing tens of accidents and deaths that are uncountable. While the danger of these lawless desperados steer you in the face, on the other side of the road, workers, business men and other road users are trapped in an endless long queue caused by traffic gridlock that lasts for several hours, day in day out. You could hear the deafening horns of the offensive motorcycle riders, while from your left hand side, civil servants, traders, bus drivers and other road users curse their fates, wondering what brought them to Abuja, a city that now compares to the valley of the shadow of death.
The congestion on Abuja intra- roads and its attendant frustration persist in spite of the daily advertisement of ‘near completion of new roads’ to open up the city and decongest FCT that media aides of the Minister and his colleagues in the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and other agencies in the FCT dish out every now and then. Even the age-long intra-city rail project that residents have been waiting for is nowhere near completion.
On Saturday last week, the Public Relations Officer of the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency (AEPB) was a guest of WE FM, one of the popular Talk Stations in Abuja and when asked why there is so much dirtiness along some streets especially in the satellite towns, the PRO said that the influx of people into FCT has continued to overstretch infrastructure projection of the City. This has been the excuse that media handlers in FCT have been giving to residents for years anytime they are confronted with the question of housing deficit and the several other unfortunate conditions that residents are facing.
*This was published in the Daily Times dated Wednesday, December 24, 2014