By Awaal Gata
A major percentage of residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) don’t live in the city centre; although their workplaces are there, their homes are in the satellite towns where basic amenities are lacking.
Water is a luxury in the satellite communities, some of which are as close to the shoulders of Abuja as Mpape. In fact, an adventurer in the hilly community can take in the whole of Abuja in a matter of minutes.
Similarly, housing is a luxury in the satellite communities. But on the flip side, more than half of the imposing houses in Abuja are empty. Nobody lives inside the buildings save for the security guards and the gardeners who keep watch for their owners.
Good roads are absent and there is no access to public water supply. At best, many of the satellite residents buy water from commercial borehole operators or sink a tube well. There is no denying the fact that power supply is epileptic and for some communities, there has been no electricity for upward of three years.
“I moved into Jikwoyi in 2009. That is over five years ago. This access road linking Jikwoyi Phase IV, III, and the Phase II Junction has been in a deplorable state. I have not seen any government effort to work on the road”, Musa Ndagana, a resident, laments.
Ndagana, who works at the Federal Secretariat, says the bad road has financial implications for his lean pockets, as he has to make several visits to auto mechanics weekly for one repair or another on his Toyota Sienna.
“Look, my brother. The people in the satellite communities are really suffering. Due to the bad state of this Jikwoyi road, vehicles break down frequently.
“I have had to replace my shock absorbers twice this year and we are only in September. It is not funny,” he recounts.
Investigations show that in places such as Kubwa, Nyanya, Orozo, Karshi, Karu and Mpape, recurring security challenges have forced residents to pay for their own security if they have to sleep with their eyes closed.
So serious is the situation that neighbourhood associations in Nyanya collect between N500 and N1,500 as monthly dues to pay for the services of private security guards. Others have resorted to investing heavily in guard dogs to undertake night surveillance.
A Karu resident, Aminu Fari, says they pay up to four security guards to guard their neighbourhood every night.
“We are talking of an expenditure of around N80,000 every month because each of them is paid N20,000. This is besides another N20,000 that goes for retainership with their organisation”, Buba explains.
Abandoned by the government, these communities have taken their fate in their hands, providing infrastructure, especially road and water, through self effort. For example, the Cannan Land residents in Jikwoyi Phase III are contributing money to rebuild a collapsed bridge that connects their neighbourhood to the Karshi-Nyanya Expressway.
“This is a multi-million project that has been ongoing since June 2013. You can see that for now, we are cut off. Nobody can drive through this link bridge.
“Work started here after several appeals to the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the Abuja Municipal Area Council failed to yield any favourable response”, Community Representative, Fidelis Bwada, declares.
It is quite ironical that revenue officers find a way to squeeze themselves through the deplorable roads to demand payment of revenue from the long-suffering residents.
For the District Head of of Jikwoyi, Chief Nicodemus Machi, even a Save Our Soul to the FCTA administration in 2008, has yet to make any difference in solving their myriad of problems.
The traditional ruler said: “With the population of the community at present, the transformers we have here are no longer adequate to light up the community at night.
“Another thing that is a pain to us is the lack of access roads in this community.
“If you look at some of the roads that lead to our communities, they are very bad. We need roads in Jikwoyi Phases 1, 2, and 3. Almost every day, development comes to Jikwoyi community, but nothing has been done to the issue of roads.
“We seriously need the attention of the FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed, so that as development is coming, the people’s needs are met.”
An official of the administration, Marcus Jiwa, admits that there are challenges in the satellite communities, but notes that the government is “seriously addressing them through restructuring for better service delivery.”
He claims that an “urban renewal programme” is underway to integrate some satellite communities.
Jiwa gives the instance of the recent scrapping of the Satellite Towns Development Agency, and its conversion to a department within the FCTA for efficient service delivery.
“What the present administration has done lately is to put all the organs of the government on their toes.
“The area councils too have been told to be accountable and to tackle issues, such as sanitation and refusal disposal”, he adds.