I read Aisha Lola-Maliki’s article in your last edition, titled ‘Dear Minister: What’s going on in Abuja?’ and I think it’s a well-thought-out piece, and elegantly-written one, which touches on issues near and dear to my heart. It’s true that whenever Abuja is mentioned to non-residents outside the FCT, you can sense excitement. That’s because in the past, people like Malam Nasir El-Rufai have made it into a Nigerian urban utopia, something that’s practically impossible to imagine. I think Lola-Maliki, however, was being too polite even as she laid some home truths bare and raw. The current minister has been there for almost four years, and honestly nothing has been achieved. Mohammed Bello, unfortunately, is one minister whose immediate-past tenure has practically nothing to show.
Lola-Maliki was nice enough to say there may be some figures and ‘facts’ that are not available to her, so there is a limit to what she could criticize. But for me, honestly, it is clear: And I’ll break it down a little in the following sectors: Security, and Infrastructure.
For Security, there are robberies, car jackings, ‘one chance’, drug peddlers, and even kidnappings. What’s being done by the police? Practically nothing, as all they can do is mount so-called checkpoints in Wuse 2, begging and harassing motorists for money. The worst among them being the checkpoints by AP Plaza, and the one just before the bridge on your way to Zone 4 from Wuse 2. Another nasty checkpoint with crooked cops is the one at Nitel Junction, after former Amigo. It’s ridiculous how brazenly corrupt they are and we’re expected to believe that nobody ‘up there’ knows? Then the youthful drug peddlers of Wuse 2 are there too, just beside H-Medix, in plain sight, soliciting would-be buyers of ‘SK’ and innocent law-abiding citizens like myself.
To be honest, I can totally agree with Lola-Maliki, when she wrote: “Speaking as an ordinary citizen, no-one can tell me there’s been any tangible work done in Abuja for the past 4 years. Now, I could write a whole book on the non-performance of the erstwhile minister who unfathomably has become governor now, but I don’t want to digress more. Bello’s tenure is just an extension of the stark non-performance which Bala Muhammad typified.” There is truth in that statement. And it is clear for all with eyes to see.
Infrastructure is my second point. There have been a few roads done, like in Utako and Jahi, but drainages remain incomplete, and sidewalks have sand and earth spilling down after rains to become mud, which clogs gutters and sprays pedestrians with red, sludgy mud. In essence, the unfinished part negates whatever progress the finished part brings. Asokoro, supposedly ‘high-brow’, is always stinking of faeces due to poorly-managed sewer systems. Same for Wuse 2, and even Maitama. I once parked somewhere to take a call, and the smell of water which spilled over a Maitama street nearly had me passing out. Street lights are out, and everywhere is dark. Roads have potholes and indiscriminately-erected ‘speed bumps’. This is far from exhaustive, but I know I have only so much space to write here.
No-one should forget that Abuja residents still remember all the improvements to their lives made possible by El-Rufai when he was minister. It may have been dismissed as a doomsayer’s declaration when Lola-Maliki wrote the following words: “If this type of scenario continues, it will only be a matter of time before crime and all kinds of decay consume us. And thinking of that, imagine the scope of said consumption for minute given the type of non-performing police we have. Are you imagining that? Then I’m sure you’ve imagined the apocalyptic darkness that will befall us. Someone, minister or not, needs to do something drastic to save Abuja, as a matter of emergency.” I, for one, can imagine that vividly, and if nothing is done, it will be in the nearest future. God forbid, yes, but Mr. Minister, do something!
Magaji wrote in from Wuse Zone 6, Abuja.