1 January 2013

Nigeria: 2013 - Housing, Environment, Security Top Wish List of Abuja Residents

As the year 2012 came to an end yesterday, residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have called on the government to ensure better living conditions for the masses in the 2013.

Some of the residents, who spoke with our correspondent, specifically emphasised on provision of affordable housing for low income earners, enhanced security, better environment, and resolution of resettlement issues for indigenous peoples as well as improved city management.

The Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu said it was pertinent for the government to consider provision of housing for the masses and stop the wanton demolition of houses in the territory, without alternatives.

"Most of the houses are for high income earners, even the middle income earners cannot afford the house, which is in itself a violation of people's right to shelter, yet houses are demolished everyday and people are rendered homeless. There should be concern for the common man," he said.

He also urged the government to enhance security and prove rumours that the CCTV cameras installed in the city are not working wrong, even as he advised the security apparatus' in the territory to be more inclined to intelligence gathering than brutal use of force, as was the order of the day.

For indigenes of the FCT, nothing would make them happier, than to have their wish for access to land, political recognition and resolution of all issues of resettlement and compensation in 2013.

Head of operations, Greater Gbagyi Development Initiative (GG-DIN), Baba Elisha Mallehu told LEADERSHIP that the aborigines of the FCT want recognition and access to land as they are predominantly farmers as well as suspension of all construction activities in areas inhabited by Abuja natives until all issues of resettlement and compensation are resolved.

"In 2013, there should be arrangements for programmes that would cater for indigenous people especially as it concerns land because our people are predominantly farmers.

"We should be given job opportunities and representation in the federal government. If you notice, only local governments in Abuja are not allowed to run the local governments as it is done in other states.

"If the government can do all these, it will give us a sense of belonging because right now we feel deprived and left out of the affairs of the country, yet we have contributed immensely to what we call Nigeria today," he said.

Oh his part, the Executive Director Operations, Nigeria, Transparency International, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagu said nothing will give him more satisfaction than to see the current Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed relieved of his position this year.

He said the call for the sack of the minister was based on the fact that incompetent leadership which is not in tune with reality cannot provide leadership required of a city such as Abuja.

Nwagu who lamented that the FCT was fast becoming an "environmental disaster" with environmental nuisances such as begging and hawking returning full fledge to the city said he looked forward to a cleaner FCT in 2013, one where security is guarantee, without incidents of broad day robbery as was the case presently, a traffic and congestion free city and not a city where people are punished unduly for choosing to live there in, with consistent fuel scarcity while the product is in abundance in other cities.

"For the people of Abuja, I wish we become more aware of our rights and more interested in budget tracking to ensure that budgeted funds are accounted for," he added.

Speaking in similar light, a resident of the territory, Azeenarh Mohammed said her wish above all things was to see the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) stop unnecessary harassment of women in Abuja, under the guise of arresting prostitutes just as she stressed the need for provision of affordable houses for low income earners, enforcement of laws such as restriction of tricycles to feeder routes, no parking zones and illegal parking, especially around Area 1 and Wuse market.

For Mohammed, the list is endless; she also looks forward to a year with better waste disposal and options for recycling, removal of needless speed bumps especially on Murtala Mohammed express, working traffic and street lights, bridge intersections, toll free numbers for reports and complaints, removal of road blocks in the city, and completed pedestrian bridges.

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