Abuja: Built by the poor, owned by the rich

The increase in oil wealth in the country is clearly displayed in the type of buildings being erected all over the capital city both in residential areas and in the business districts. Most of the places inhabited by the rich, were at one time occupied by the poor, now displaced.
At a building site along Airport road in Abuja, the reporter came across some people, mixing concrete, while some are putting finishing touches on a building.
The mason working on the building may never know what the building is meant for until the structure is at the finishing stages.
They might probably never know or meet the owner up to the time they finish the work.
Welcome to the world of labourers and artisans on Abuja’s multiple building sites.
Hassan Usman, a 25 year old labourer, said he came to Abuja about few weeks ago. He now works at an estate being developed along Airport road.
“I came to Abuja to earn a living, get what I want and go home. I don’t care who owns the building, or who will live in it. All I know is that he must be rich and I am poor. He needs enjoyment, I need money. So he gets what he wants, I get what I want,’’ he said.
About 300 labourers work on this site which has about over 80 units of houses being built on an expansive fenced piece of land.
Emma, a metal fabricator on the site came from Jos and resides in Mararaba. He fabricates metal anti-burglar iron protection to be fixed on the windows of the houses being built.
“I have been chased away many times from where I reside. I live in many places, when the place is demolished I have to move to another place. There is nothing we can do, we are poor and Abuja is for the rich. We only work to get money for our needs and go to our poor man quarters to sleep. Our only business with the rich is to work for them, they pay us off, and we go our way,” he said.
Alhaji Musa Bagwai, an Abuja resident, who owns a house in Kubwa, said that the rich don’t have to be thinking of who built their houses because they have paid them. But at least the poor should have a place of his own in the city as it obtains in other cities around the world.
“Government should provide low cost housing for the low income earners, who might be referred to as the poor in Abuja,” he said.
Another resident, Hamisu Bala, who lives in a rented apartment, said that the poor in Abuja is a rich man in other societies, but the low income earners are the people that were referred to as the poor in Abuja.
“A person who owns a car in Abuja might be called poor compared to the wealthy people living in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, and other highbrow areas. If you are referring to the poor people who cannot afford the three square meals in a day, the rich don’t even think about them. To be honest, the government has no plans for them in Abuja. They only work, receive their pay and live in the suburbs or satellite towns around the city,” he opined.
A labourers recruitment agent at one of the building sites, who requests anonymity, said that the poor does not care whether the rich remembers him or not; his only problem is when he works and is not paid. For him, the rich should enjoy his wealth as long as he pays the ‘poor man’for his services.
Another supervisor, who also refuses to disclose his name said that, the question of the rich remembering the poor does not even arise, because in all the factories and industries all over the world it is the poor who work in them. “So if the rich will think about the poor in this way he will be killed by these thoughts. All the things that we are using are done by the poor in the factories or construction sites including houses or the hotels with all the luxuries.
“The only relief to the poor is that he will always be paid for the services he renders even if he is not the one to enjoy the luxury. The poor works, the rich pays him. That is how the world has been since the beginning of human civilisation,” he said philospophically.


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