Abuja Development Challenges
Being a city with tremendous importance in the country’s life and development, as well as a hot bed of political fermentation, such that generates centripetal attraction from all nooks and corner of the country, perhaps nowhere has the need for judicious use and preservations of the city’s exhaustive land resources becomes imperative in Nigeria today than the Federal Capital City. Not only are people attracted for its role as the administrative capital, billions of naira worth of investment has now been invested in the city, contrary to the earlier apathy at its inception. The spacious area slogan associated with Abuja is now a thing of the past.
Demolition of illegal structures is a continuous exercise in the FCT, as always, it is accompanied with vehement complains. On one hand, the Authority insists that the developments are illegal due to their non-compliance with the City development guidelines. On the other hand, the victims also contend that they have right to shelter anywhere in Nigeria as bonafide citizens, irrespective of their financial strength, more so that Abuja is known as the land of unity and equal opportunity. The original inhabitants also agitate for integration against resettlement, for the fact that they do not have anywhere to call home, other than the FCT, which has now been transformed to another home for others that have other homes elsewhere.
Meanwhile, it is important to note that, there must be land allocation accompanied with approval to develop, before one should commence the development, at least for the purpose of sanity and orderliness, not only in Abuja. Since the amount of money involved is very large, people must comply with the rules and regulations to guide against unnecessary lost to demolitions in the event of any form of illegality. On the other hand the Authority must evolve a policy that should accommodate all and sundry irrespective of class of income and social standing.
The Imperatives of Planning Advocacy
With the endemic land demand in the face of limited provision, in the recent past managing the city’s land resources remain the greatest challenge to all
the FCT Administrations. It has thus become necessary to marry the challenges posed by overcoming high cost of land resources with the struggle by the authority to make the commodity available.
We wish to state that as in all modern cities, what exist in the FCT is the intensive competition for land acquisition rather than strict rule for acquisition that prevents prospective developers from acquiring lands for development. However, we believe that there is adequate room for innovations aimed at mitigating the prevailing challenges such that the commodity would be more accessible to more prospective and eligible applicants. Unfortunately, instead of exploring the many available avenues that would ease land acquisition, those saddled with the responsibility use the situation to corruptly enrich themselves. Corruption has been entrenched in the system to the extent that people consider the activities of extortion by the people in authority as a normal avenue for land acquisition in the FCT.
In the context of land development on the other hand advocacy would seek for the relaxation of development standard and regulations due to the following reasons:
• A major proportion of urban housing in developing countries, and also in some European countries, are developed outside officially sanctioned processes.
• The reason for the above phenomenon was that many countries have inherited or imported their regulatory frameworks from outside, which were designed to meet very different conditions from those facing the local environment.
• By attempting to impose such approaches on populations which are invariably too poor to be able to conform to them, the danger is that respect for the law and official institutions in general will be undermined.
• Hence, the preponderance of squatter and illegal developments at city fringes.
For urban development to be socially, economically, and institutionally sustainable, it is very important to assess the extent to which changes in the regulatory frameworks are required, in order to enable the accessibility to urban facilities by the urban poor.
Excerpt from a paper presentation by Tpl. Umar Shuaibu on the occasion of NITP Abuja Chapter Week on the 15th September 2015.