by Emmanuel Ihim
Welcome to the Federal Capital Territory which is paradoxically called ‘The Center of Unity’. Here, the problems that plague our beloved country are amplified beyond the seemingly minute squabbles that beset most states. Here, the excessive affluence of the minority elite is more explicitly displayed. A mish-mash capital of a mish-mash country.
With roughly 75% of the working and unemployed population living in satellite towns outside Abuja itself due to the ridiculously high cost of housing within AMAC, the traffic rush hour in the morning and evenings can only be described as hellish. For the average Nigerian living in this land of ‘milk and honey’, life is a daily struggle to balance two opposing elements – the high cost of living and a low income.
We, residents of the FCT, see above others the extensive damage the power distance in the country has caused on the minds and attitudes of Nigerians. We, above all others, question whether the government really has the average Nigerian at heart (mere rhetoric mind you). However, our main concern isn’t the President (unbelievable I know), but the ‘honorable’ Minister of the FCT, whose role it could be argued is equivalent to that of a state Governor in terms of administration.
I am of the firm belief that the honorable FCT Minister – pardon my misuse of the word ‘honorable’- is committed to ensuring that Nigerians living within the FCT enjoy all the benefits his administration has to offer. It would however be helpful for me to highlight these benefits for the skeptics.
–The FCT Minister’s Health-Care Package: ‘Health is wealth’, or at least the monies saved from buying drugs could hustle up a pot of soup. The banning of commercial transport workers from major centers in town signaled the commencement of what I dubbed operation “Walk for Life.” Apparently doctors have advised that taking long walks twice a day bolsters the heart, lungs, and muscles. How thoughtful of the Minister to create an extensive exercise regime for FCT residents.
–The FCT Minister’s Economic Strategy: Nigeria has been predicted to be a future economic power by people who predict such things. Hence the Minister has chosen to hasten this process by increasing the demand for affordable housing. Demolish the surrounding satellite communities and indirectly increase the cost of accommodation in town. Viola! One small step for man, one big step for economic progress.
–The FCT Minister’s Environmental Preservation Plan: Abuja is crowded. With a steadily increasing population, urban planning and environmental preservation is vital, hence the creation of the Abuja Environmental Preservation Board (AEPB). Their job isn’t just to clean the FCT physically but socially and morally as well. Thus the AEPB’s effective vigilant task force has been known to chase off traders, hawkers, and anyone attempting to ply his/her trade on the streets. The zeal to cleanse the city from moral decadence is exhibited by the arrest of prostitutes, potential prostitutes, and women who act like prostitutes.
If all these points have failed to convince you that Abuja is working then I’m afraid nothing else will. I can attest to the excellent results the ‘Walk for Life’ strategy has done for my body. After walking unimaginable distances daily I’m as fit as an athlete! I just wish I’d been informed earlier as I wore suede shoes instead of trainers (I wasn’t aware that we were getting trained for the 2016 Olympics). There is however one undeniable fact, if Abuja isn’t working no one can contest that it is certainly walking.