Abuja: A Beautiful Nonsense

by Ahmed Dodo

“God must have loved the common people He made so many of them”
-Abraham Lincoln

First, I must confess that I am still a stranger in this pampered city; since I am barely two months old in this city of chaos and confusion. But all the same, these two few months have been quite challenging and eye-opening in my sojourn as a journalist.

Honestly, if not for the current security Wahala across some of the hitherto hospitable peaceful states nearby, I probably would have pack my bag and return to my former city, where transportation, housing and food are still relatively cheap and affordable to many of us yanfu-yanfu, irrespective of where we work or live. Unlike this mollycoddle city, made up of corrupt politicians, greedy landlords and their unscrupulous agents, including of course some unpatriotic civil servants, whose only quest is to make money, build big houses, ride exotic cars and mercilessly exploit and oppress their fellow country men and women.

My two months sojourn in Abuja has shown and taught me that the over propagated and over pampered city is nothing but a purported beautiful city surrounded by slums and poverty; A nation’s capital, with countless beautiful unoccupied estates and uncountable homeless citizens. A glittering metropolitan city from the outside, but so dirty inside, thanks in part to the so-called satellite towns, with their embarrassing roads and ignominious homes; an exposé of the corruption in our system.

I don’t know what you think, but I believe it is a disservice to the majority of tax payers in this city, especially those hard working and dedicated public servants and other patriotic striving citizens who are forced to live in these shameful satellite towns to continue to live in these jungles, while the FCTA administration proposed and submitted a budget of 3.3 billion naira to renovate the ECOWAS building, an international edifice. Charity we have always been told and come to know should begin at home. One would have thought the present administration should have wisely pump part of these billions into the disgraceful slums in Nyanya, Karimo, Lugbe, Maraba, Gwa-gwa, and the other dehumanized dwelling place of millions of Nigerians across the city. I mean development with human face, not the present intimidation and undemocratic demolition going on across the capital.

Isn’t it a beautiful nonsense that a city reputed to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world and the capital of one of the top five oil rich countries in the globe, is still disgracefully enmeshed with long queues in most of the filling stations across the capital and the expensive streets virtually taken over by unemployed hungry fuel hawkers? What should we call a city that has beautiful metropolitan roads, various five stars hotels and other gigantic government establishments like Aso Rock, the National Assembly, the CBN, the NNPC towers, the NCC structure, the NICON and virtually all the foreign embassies, including some eye-catching individual structures and yet has a poor unarranged transport system, with dilapidated buses, Kabu-Kabu, Keke NAPEP, competing the roads fiercely with various posh cars.

A capital city that allows its citizens to be packaged into long articulated vehicles like sardines in this 21st Century by the various multi-nationals companies milking us dry. Or should we close our reasoning and applaud a city that has failed to provide mass housing to its ordinary citizens, but blindly keep erecting expensive estates for its insatiable elites? A rich city that still could not stop children from hawking pure water, plantain, guru-guru and groundnuts on the streets, nor rehabilitate the multiple of beggars and hundreds of helpless almajiris that daily wander across the capital in search of food and shelter.

Abuja, the beautiful lighted city at night, but a careful scrutiny would reveal the darkness ravaging the slums around. A nation’s capital with fake life and expensive lies, where the ordinary Nigerian is not welcome to stay nor encouraged to own a home. What beauty lies in a city that worship foreigners, but has no respect for its own citizens? An artificial and illusive setting where the price of everything usually double or triple its value.

Anyway, I am still around, watching and laughing at the dramas daily unfolding across the beautiful Federal Capital of my dear country, with a happy smirk on my face, convinced that everyone in Abuja, both the big people and the common people will certainly leave everything behind one day, and return nakedly to that unknown place, where nobody owns a land.

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