As Abuja Millennium Park reopens…

On December 21, 2020, when the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) ordered that the popular Millennium Recreation Park located within Maitama District of Abuja be shut down for
all social activities, not many fun seekers ever thought the closure would last this long.

But 19 months after, the FCTA in its wisdom on August 1, 2022, decided that the closure was enough and that the largest and biggest park in the territory should be opened to fun seekers in Abuja.

When it was closed almost two years ago, the chairman, FCT Ministerial Task Enforcement team on COVID-19, Mr. Ikharo Attah, gave the reason for the closure while addressing Abuja Park Operators Association. He said the action became imperative in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

But that was then, and now after much complaints by fun seekers and residents of Abuja, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory FCT, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, has decided to reopen the popular Millennium Park. By this action, fun seekers in the city are heaving sigh of relief and commending the administration, despite the security challenges nationwide, while welcoming the lifting of the ban
on the park.

A peep into the park shows that the Millennium Park, which is considered as the largest public park in Abuja, sits on 80 acres of land in Maitama highbrow area. The park, conceived and designed by the Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti, has quickly become one of the main attractions of the city of Abuja, bringing thousands of people together each day.

The Millennium Park is almost two decades old, but the place still looks and feels new. The maintenance is top-notch, and it is being renovated regularly. New innovations are usually made to match the trend, and old and worn-out equipment are usually replaced with new ones. Despite being a public park, the Millennium Park is considered as one the best maintained parks in Abuja.

Abuja’s Millennium Park does not require any fee to gain access to its amazing features. It is absolutely free, and there is no limit to the number of hours you can spend there. Apart from fun seekers patronising the park at no cost, food vendors are making brisk business while the park remains open from early morning to late evening; for no one is allowed inside the park in the night.

Surprisingly, despite its two-year closure by the FCT authorities, the park is still well maintained as the inner side is spotless and serene. It has remained an urban Oasis in the heart of Nigeria’s capital city, Millennium Park has remained a remarkable avenue to get back to nature, far from bustling corners of the city.
The FCT minister, who led his administration’s officials to the reopening ceremony, commended fun seekers for their patience and endurance for this long the park was shut.

The minister described the event as an occasion that is more than just the reopening of the park but appreciating God Almighty for having taken everyone safely through the difficult times. More importantly, the minister said it was a day the administration will be saying thank you to Salini Nigeria Limited, for being a very reliable partner and corporate citizen in Abuja, having singlehandedly constructed this park over 22 years ago.

According to him, and more importantly, Salini has continued to maintain it to this international standard that everyone is seeing today without charging a kobo.

What we have seen today is what,
truly, a park is supposed to be in Abuja.
The minister, however lamented that very unfortunately, almost 95 per cent of the parks in Abuja have totally derailed from the park policy; describing the park as an embodiment of FCT Park Policy in action. “They have an opening time, they have a closing time, they have perimeter fence, lights, security and toilets,” he said.

The minister, while appealing to the media and the public to support the FCTA’s efforts towards rediscovering Abuja in line with the objectives of its founding fathers, also urged those opposing the FCTA park policy to have a rethink and support the administration in the journey to transform all parks to what they were meant to be.

Earlier at the ceremony, the Managing Director of Salini Nigeria Ltd, Dr Piero Capitano, thanked the administration for all the support to the company. Represented by the Project Manager of the company, Mr. Gennaro D’ltria, Capitano said that the park was a sanctuary of relaxation, which provides freedom and peace.

It was developed and donated to the residents of the FCT some years ago by Salini Nigeria Ltd.

At the Millennium Park opening ceremony in 2003, which was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II on December 4, 2003, each Commonwealth Head of State then planted symbolically a Ravenala Madagascariensis palm giving birth to the Park. Among others present were the President of Nigeria then Olusegun Obasanjo, UK Prime Minister then Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II.

This park features sweeping walkways that meander into the distance, flanked by water fountains and surrounded by manicured landscapes. Millennium Park is located at 5, Usuma St, Abuja. It covers a large land area of over 80 acres of land. It is near the former Presidential Palace close to the nucleus of presidential and administrative buildings of the city.

A river crosses the park in its main rectilinear axis, dividing it into two parts. One side on the park is dedicated to uncontaminated nature.
The other side, corresponding to the main entrance from the road, is dedicated to the scientific knowledge of the natural environment. While entering the park, a rectilinear path completely paved with Roman white ravertine brings the public into its green areas. A series of fountains run alongside this white mark refreshing the public during the hottest days.

The roads are crossed by a series of multi-coloured bushes going from yellow to red with a very particular wave-like course. Besides, the Millennium Park is a great place for children to be. There is a special area allocated for
children to play. There are numerous children playing toys, each one suitable for different age groups.

The Millennium Park is also available for people to host their social events, which range from birthday parties to weddings, burial receptions, engagements, and retirements, among others.

The surroundings around Abuja’s Millennium Park speak everything about nature.

The environment is green and serene. The large trees are beautifully placed, and designed to give you shelter and natural breath. If you ever want to feel close to nature, Millennium Park is highly recommended. In addition to that, the artistic ambience of its surroundings makes it a top attraction site for tourists.

Millennium Park has a great waterfall in it. The subtle sound of the rushing water is always very tranquil to the ears. One can go there for sight-seeing, or have a picnic or date around the fountains and water falls.

The park is very safe for people to be in. The security is tight, and there is close monitoring of activities around the place.

Indeed, the Millennium Park is a tourist’s centre that every resident and visitor to Abuja needs to visit.

Abdul writes from Abuja.

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