The carving out of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria 40 years ago which led to the development of the city, is now having an emerging slum problem, Sunday Isuwa reports.
As a result of housing deficit in the Nigeria capital city, many people live in these slums but work in the Abuja city. These have been described as “cosmetic life in Abuja.”
Gishiri, Lokogoma, Nyanya, Gwagwalape Dawaki, Dutse, Dei Dei, Lugbe, Byanzhin, Karu, Karshi, Garki village, Piya Kasa, Kabusa, Ungwan Tiv, Ketti village are just few out of many slums in Abuja where a substantial number of people working in Abuja city resides.
Most of these communities have no road network, throwing people that reside on them into serious agony. Many Nigerians prefer these settlements to the modern strictures with high rate of rent.
Some of these communities have also been carved out for the disadvantaged groups, it was gathered.
In Karamajiji, a colony of people living with disability has been carved out. People who live in these communities have no decent houses neither social amenities that makes life meaningful.
It was gathered that because of the horrible and difficult life in the slums, water vendors are making bricks businesses while pollution from electric generators is very rampant.
The settlements also do not have proper drainages to control the movement of water especially in the rainy season. Most of the dilapidated streets are faced with a serious threat of erosion, it was observed.
Several flooded earth roads and erosion gullies threatening houses are what ones see if one is visiting some of these communities for the first time.
The slums are mostly associated with indigenous communities such as Amwamwa, Bassa, Egbura, Gade, Ganagana, Gbagyi, Gbari, Gwandara and Koro that made up Abuja natives.
Pulse gathered that most of these indigenous residents are been neglected when it comes to the development of Abuja.
“Government preferred relocating us to slums whenever there is an interest to develop a district. Instead of the government to develop the city with us, they keep pushing us to undeveloped places and that is why you will continue to see slums in Abuja,” a Gishiri resident, Shehu Emmanuel said.
An indigenous resident of the Abuja, Pastor Danladi Jeji, has decried the February 3rd, 1976 pronouncement of Abuja as Nigeria’s capital by Major General Muritala Muhammed.
Because of the slums experience, Jeji said the pronouncement of Abuja has multiplied the misery and woes of the original inhabitants of the FCT with natives lagging behind in terms of infrastructures, education, political, economic and social opportunities.
Jeji said “as we recall the annexation of our lands forty years ago by the Nigerian government, we remain dismayed by General Murtala who erroneously referred to this area as ‘virgin land with sparse population’. How could a land be virgin and populated at the same time? This was the first contradiction.”
“In fact, the imaginary ‘virgin land’ was later confirmed by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo as homeland to over 400,000 indigenous Nigerian citizens who had settled, cultivated and adapted to this geo-limatic area since prehistoric times.”
“Thus, the demolition of our homes, farmlands and land-grab by the federal government, politicians in power and wealthy land speculators in different guises have become the order of the day since 1976 without due compensation or regard for our existence as humans,” he said.
“We live in these communities people are referring to slums,” Benjamin Shekwogbizami said.
“Abuja is a city of the rich. In fact even people that work in government offices cannot afford to rent close to places they work not to talk of houses in the heart of the city. So, there must be these kinds of settlements to accommodate the low income earners,” he added.
“We know that we are living in poor structures, plight through very poor roads and other poor conditions faced, ones hope that if things get better, we can move to the city centre,” Emmanuel Ejide said.
With high population in the slums, many locals believed government can make their life much better. Some residents said with efficient opening of the satellite towns with road networks, electricity and pipe born water, good structures would be erected to accommodate the populace.
“Let me tell you, as things are now, there will still be slums in Abuja. Abuja is a place you experience influx of people on a daily basis. The structures and the development are overwhelmed. People must keep living in such settlements considered as slums because most of them cannot afford the high life in the city centre,” Salihu Usman said.
Officials of Department of Satellite Town Development would not want to speak concerning the slums. An official who spoke confidentially said more satellite towns will be open by the present administration as promised by the FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello.