There has been huge financial investment in capital projects that has perhaps provided most of the beauty and convenience the city deserves. No doubt, Abuja is one of the most beautiful cities in Africa in terms of concentration of sparkling government institutions and state of the art infrastructural edifices. However, the reverse is absolutely the case in its satellite towns where the majority of Abuja workforce and other citizens live.
Investigations have revealed that policies aimed at developing the Federal Capital Territory, do not affect the satellite towns positively, rather, the people living in these areas are being affected negatively.
It will be recalled that in 2011, the FCT Administration banned the operations of commercial motorcyclists popularly called ‘Okada’ riders in the main city of Abuja and restricted them to satellite towns. The rationale for the ban was to decongest the city, check crime wave and the rate of accidents in the city centre.
FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, in 2010, also banned the operations of commercial sex workers in the city of Abuja. While prostitutes in the city centre were flushed out of the city, the majority took refuge in satellite towns such as Karu, Nyanya, Kubwa, Kuje, Lugbe, Mpape, and a few others.
The recent ban of the operations of mini buses in the city centre has been another policy thrust which has affected the satellite inhabitants negatively as they take several vehicles before reaching their offices and business centres in the city centre spending more than expected in the process.
But speaking to a cross section of residents especially those living in the numerous suburbs of the FCT, this reporter found out that the greatest concern of most residents is the lip service being paid to development at the suburbs.
A medical doctor in Karu, who craved anonymity is miffed about the uneven development in the FCT. He believes that the authorities ought to do more to bridge the gap between the metropolis and the outskirts of the city. “I really don’t know what the government is doing about satellite towns. Nobody knows when these towns will witness remarkable development and the resources are there. It is like the satellite towns are not recognized in the definition of the Federal Capital Territory,” he lamented.
Also due to this social upheavals and neglect by successive administrations, satellite towns have gradually become convenient hideouts for criminals- burglars, robbers, thieves, marijuana businessmen, prostitutes, etc.
In Gwagwalada, arguably, the second largest satellite town in the FCT after Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), the issue of snatching commercial motorcycles and killing of owners in the process is on the increase.
Speaking with journalists over the arrest of two suspected motorcycle snatchers at Gwagwalada recently, the chairman of commercial motorcyclists at Gwagwalada, Mallam Yakubu Abubakar, lamented the incessant killing of their members and called on the government and security agents to double up their efforts to save the ugly trend.
Mallam Abubakar said, “They have stolen more than 200 motorcycles in this town. We have tried our best, we even arranged with some group of people to be monitoring in the night. They have killed more than 50 of our members in Gwagwalada here. So when we arrest criminals we take them to the police station because we have lost many of our members.”
“They even slaughtered one of our members and cut off his head the other time. So we want the government and the security agents to help us monitor the activities of criminals in this place so that these things will stop,” he added.
Many communities in the six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory such as Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Kwali Area Council, Abaji Area Council, Gwagwalada Area Council, Bwari Area Council and Kuje Area Council are unfamiliar with social amenities and critical infrastructure.
Roads and major streets in most communities in area councils are deplorable and while residents lack electricity supply, potable water, drainages, comprehensive healthcare facilities and schools, the problem of erosion is on the increase.
Karu, for instance, has a yam market which attracts people from different parts of Abuja and beyond. The market which is a source of employment and income for many people and a source of revenue for the government has however been neglected regarding the nature of the filthy and muddy environment with lack of good access road, drainage systems and poor housing infrastructure in the market area.
The rate of poverty in satellite towns is rising by the day, findings reveal and while many have resorted to engaging in criminal activities to survive, others more fainthearted have remained beggars on the streets.
The question on the lips of many today is when indeed will the authorities pay more attention to infrastructural and human capital development in the suburban areas?