Due to a lack of a sense of responsibility on the part of citizens and outright official complicity, the master plans of most of the cities in the country have been violated. Lagos, the nation’s former capital, serves as a prime example of one of these cities that have suffered this fate.
But the same fate may befall the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) if the necessary precautions are not taken now. When the FCT was created in 1976, it had a master plan that took into consideration the need to have a modern nation’s capital that is devoid of all the shortcomings of Lagos , principally its unrelieved congestion.
This consciousness has apparently guided successive governments’ efforts to adhere to the FCT’s master plan. Some of the most noticeable efforts in this regard took place under the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Through his FCT minister Nasir El Rufai, the government demolished many structures that were termed illegal for violating the city’s master plan.
But obviously, some residents of the city have not learnt from this experience. The FCT Administration dropped this hint recently when it alerted the nation to the violations of the city’s master plan. According to the administration, some allottees of land in Abuja have ignored the master plan.
Thus, where they are allotted land to erect commercial buildings, they put residential houses there, and vice versa. In some cases, the allottees refuse to develop their land while others have become land speculators contrary to the terms of the allottments.
These violations of the master plan is fraught with baleful consequences in many ways. The beauty of the FCT as envisaged in the master plan would be lost. Traffic congestion and flooding loom. And the areas specifically designed for recreational activities are lost.
Aware of these dangers, the FCT authorities have vowed to sanction the allottees who violated the terms of the acquisition of their land. One of the sanctions is that their land titles may be revoked.
But the FCT authorities should not only look outside for the enemies of its master plan. They should realise that their officials are indeed enemies within.
These are the enemies that the FCT authorities should deal with first. For they are the ones who in the first place encourage citizens to violate the terms of the land allocation.
They are the ones who illegally allotte land. And even if citizens build structures where they should not be, it is the officials who would tolerate these violations as long as they have been bribed.
A new consciousness of their responsibility, thus, needs to be inculcated into the FCT officials. They need to do more of monitoring and guarding against the violations of the master plan.
Such vigilance is necessary to avoid inflicting on citizens the pains of evictions and demolitions after they have built their illegal structures.
In this regard, it is not only the allottees who suffer. It costs the government money and time to deploy bulldozers to demolish such illegal structures.
Again, preventive monitoring obviates the possibility of citizens’ animus against the government , especially when such citizens have been swindled into developing illegal structures.
Abuja needs to return to its master plan. It should not be allowed to suffer the problems of other cities in the country due to violations of their master plans.
Therefore, returning the city to its original master plan is a task that requires an urgent prosecution by the FCT authorities.
They should ensure that an adherence to the original master plan is reflective of the order and discipline that should be the hallmarks of the nation’s capital.