Residents of Tungan Kwaso and Anguwan Kano on the fringes of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, have said they are close to civilization yet so far away from it.
They said the perimeter fence raised by the airport authorities has shut them out of civilization, alleging that the only footpath which leads to the closest school to the villages has been blocked.
The residents also complained over their neglect and failed promises by the airport authorities and Abuja Municipal Area Council to compensate them for their lands that were taken over for the construction of the airport’s second runway.
Our reporters gathered that both communities have been there years before the airport was constructed but that despite their proximity to the biggest symbol of civilization in the nation’s political capital, they lacked basic amenities such of potable water, school, electricity and good road.
The Chief of Agwan Kano, Usman Kano, was not available when our reporters visited but a resident, Umar Usman Farouk, said the community lacked basic amenities, adding that among their challenges was the bad state of the road that leads to the community which he said has been taken over by hoodlums who attacked villagers plying it.
“Nobody can enter or go out of this place anytime from 6:00pm because bad boys attack us. The only means of transportation is motorcycle but many riders have been attacked and their motorcycles snatched. Even our chief was attacked on his way home about three weeks ago,” he said.
He said their problems started when the airport management constructed a perimeter fence that took major part of their land and blocked their access road.
He said bringing the airport to their domain has been a curse rather than blessing, adding that they have not benefited from their closeness to the revenue generating edifice, instead they suffer hardship.
The story was not different at Tungan Kwaso as residents also lamented over neglect both by the airport authorities and the FCT administration.
Muhammad Baba who spoke on behalf of the community’s head complained that they have not enjoyed the dividends of democracy that some people were talking about.
“For over 20 years, there has not been any form of development here. The perimeter fence that was mounted by the airport has affected us negatively. It has denied our children access to school. The children are not going to school because of long distance to school. The only available school is by the airport but the barricade has shut us out.
He also said there is no healthcare facility nearby so they go to as far as Zuba whenever they needed medical attention.
“We travel as far as the main airport road to link the nearest hospital in Zuba before we can access a health facility,” he said.
Baba also said accessing a market has become difficult thereby making their farm produce to waste during harvest season.
“Stopping us from farming because of the second runway is affecting us till date but we had made effort and the case is in court on the issue of compensation for the land taken from us,” he said.
The youth leader of Tunga Kwaso, Buhari Abubakar, said the only source of water, a borehole, which was dug for them by AMAC worked for about one month and broke down, adding that they drink water from a stream.
Abubakar called on the government to look into their plight; compensate them on their lands and also provide the necessary facilities for the community.
“We have been active in every political season. When politicians come and solicit for our votes they promise to put things in order but after enumerating mouth watering promises they never show up again,” he said.
He added that the youth have decided not to allow any politician to deceive them anymore because they are tired of their failed promises.
Our reporters discovered that the communities affected by the perimeter fence include Tunga Kwaso, Angwan Kano and Angwan Kukudakpa.
The residents restated their appeal to government to provide amenities for them to improve their lives in the villages.
When contacted, spokesman of FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, said “FCDA is responsible for paying compensations, not FAAN.”
“Life has not been easy since then. We were not allowed to farm that year as the government had bought the land for the construction of the second runway and that they would compensate us. But we are yet to hear from them or get any form of compensation. Instead we are dying of hunger because we can’t farm on the land,” he said.
Many children of school age – between ages four and nine years – were seen playing around in the communities when they were supposed to be in school.
Umar said, “We don’t have any school around here except in Jiwa which is about four hours trek to and fro. These children are too young to undergo such long distance trek, hence the need to keep them at home until they reach 10 years old when we think they are strong enough to trek to Jiwa. I attended both primary and secondary schools in Jiwa.”
He said the location of the community has deprived many indigenes of education, adding that the construction of the perimeter fence has obstructed their movement to school.
“The land they confiscated and used to construct the fence is our inheritance from our forefathers,” he lamented.
Another resident, Musa Abdullahi, said the airport authorities sought their consent to erect the fence but that they told them that was the only route their children used to go to school and they promised to compensate them but nothing has been done since then.
“Since they used the fence to block the access road to school, the children have not been going to school,” he said.
Musa also said not only the children have been deprived of education but their main occupation, farming, has also suffered.
“I used to harvest about 100 bags of grains from my farm but since this barricade, I barely have 20 bags. The year it was constructed we almost died of hunger because we could not farm,” he said.
Musa said the community lacked everything including water, explaining that the only source of water in the community is a stream where they and their animals drink from and sometimes the animals defecate in it. “But we have no choice,” he added.