The recent call by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Alhaji Muhammad Musa Bello, on all citizens of the country residing in Abuja guarding jealously the greatness of the city is apt and of immense importance. The greatness of the Abuja city which was achieved and attained over the years through the sheer ingenuity and patriotism of its founding fathers and the hard work of its citizens and successive administrators must be guarded seriously as an obligation and civic responsibility of all lovers of the city.
It is observed generally that Abuja is fast growing, 13 per cent more than the provisions in its master plans. It is now a thing of concern that Abuja is fast turning into an environmental disaster caused by its residents who are supposed to guard and protects its greatness. Embarrassed by development springing up in gross violation of the zoning and other planning codes spurred the minister to make the call for citizens residents in Abuja to take ownership of the greatness of the city.
Abuja, which is supposed to be an epitome of beauty and enlightened vision of city development, has suffered over the years from unnecessary distortions in the implementation of its master plan.
Abuja faces the challenges like all the new capital city of the world on relocation, resettlement and development.
Development was taken to areas which hitherto were sparsely populated but also contributed very little to the nation’s economic development. Most great cities of the world enjoy substantial amount of patronage and reputation by virtue of two major factors, among numerous others. Among the factors is vitual amenity, defined as the general attractiveness of the environment and the cultural contents.
We should all guard the greatness of Abuja because the city was created not to have the defects of Lagos that was spawned in 1975. In the process of the creation of Abuja, a master plan was developed and subsequent governments prior to this one abused the integrity of that master plan and that resulted in Abuja urbanization and housing inadequacy. The most vulnerable is that the urban poor have to arrange, on their own, where to live and that resulted in shanty settlements.
Hence, spartial dialectics, informal volumetrics and unvolumetrics combinations now called the spartial house, open house or house without limit. These shanty settlements have defaced the capital city and have made the religious implementation of the master plan impossible.
The minister of the FCT seeing the urgent need to put to a stop to incidents and actions of residents in making Abuja to have the same situation that necessitated the movement of the capital territory in the first place, dutifully called on all residents to make sacrifices by conscientiously guarding the greatness of the city because truly Abuja is an evolving city.
There is an urgent need which the minister recognises for the formal and informal settlements and the city major actors to be talking and link with the Abuja central infrastructure to create a diverse economy that will take care of all. This is a major concern of the minister.
The minister does not want us, the residents, to be frustrated by the inadequacies of the conventional approaches to provide shelter and social amenities to the large enough proportion of the large enough population of the city’s urban poor and resort to squatting on public and private lands, either by invading, or forcefully occupying or leasing these lands on which they hurriedly erect or construct from any readily available materials from readily available technology.
Our urban poverty in Abuja is highly associated with high level of environmental risks. This is largely due to poor quality and overcrowding housing situations created by the residents and in the inadequacies in the provisions of water, sanitation, drainage, health care, garbage collection, poor percolation resulting into floods, building on water ways and pollution of land, air and water, and all caused by residents.
The concentration of more people in Abuja has certainly brought more pressures on the land space for the provisions of foods, infrastructure, housing and industrialisation. The movement affects the capacity of the city’s environment to cope, as each additional person increases the demand on the infrastructure and and the natural system and as a result creating ecological imbalances with adverse environmental impact and disaster. This is a major reason for the minister’s call.
The Abuja master plan was prepared such that land use, infrastructure, housing, transportation, recreation, economic and social services were to be coordinated and inter-related but that was not the case during implementation by successive administrations. Much of our daily experiences of the city occur within the public shared spaces, or the public domain. We, the residents, have for long been the major problem of Abuja’s of environmental and urban development and there is an urgent need for us to desist from this undesirable act.
The aim for the minister’s call is to reawaken the residents and indeed all citizens to our responsibilities in guarding jealously the greatness of this city which truly is an evolving one.
Musa writes from Abuja