In the wake of a recent announcement by the newly appointed Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike, regarding a widespread demolition campaign targeting improperly situated houses in the FCT, the capital city is experiencing a variety of responses from the public.
Wike, known for his decisive leadership style, was inaugurated alongside 44 other newly appointed Ministers of the Federal Republic. During his inaugural press conference, he declared his intention to demolish structures that violate the Abuja Master-plan and encroach upon green areas within the capital. He emphasized that no property, regardless of ownership, would be spared if it was built in violation of planning regulations.
The proposed mass demolition initiative aims to address what Wike perceives as the proliferation of illegal and unplanned constructions that have detracted from the city’s aesthetic and hindered sustainable urban growth.
“Those who have deviated from Abuja’s Master-plan will face the consequences. If you have constructed where it’s prohibited, your building will be removed. Whether you hold a ministerial position or are an ambassador, if you’ve developed where you shouldn’t have, your property will be affected. Those who have encroached on green areas and parks will be required to relinquish them. Neglecting green spaces is akin to neglecting one’s well-being,” Wike stated.
However, this decision has sparked criticism from civil society organizations (CSOs), community leaders, activists, and residents of Abuja. Many who shared their opinions with SATURDAY VANGUARD argued that Wike’s focus should be directed toward improving vital services like primary healthcare, education, and security.
Critics argued that the emphasis on demolitions overshadows the pressing need to revitalize essential services in the FCT. They acknowledged the importance of addressing unauthorized structures but urged Wike not to neglect the basic needs of residents in the process.
While some Abuja residents support addressing illegal structures, they also cautioned against an overly disproportionate focus on demolitions. They advised Wike to maintain a balance between addressing urban planning concerns and upholding residents’ needs.
The proposed demolitions are expected to displace thousands of people who are already facing financial challenges. Critics called for a redirection of efforts toward enhancing medical facilities, upgrading educational institutions, and implementing effective security measures to ensure the welfare of all residents.
Speaking about the importance of revitalizing Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs), Agnes Ibeh, a mother of three and trader, emphasized the need for improved facilities to provide quality healthcare to the economically disadvantaged.
Medical professional John Ikechukwu highlighted the dire state of existing facilities and stressed the necessity of immediate action. He urged the Minister to invest in these centers to ensure equitable access to healthcare for vulnerable individuals.
Gloria Adamu, a teacher, emphasized the significance of investing in healthcare for the underserved population. She called for a comprehensive approach that prioritizes the well-being of all residents through enhanced medical facilities and services.
Community leaders echoed the sentiment that Wike’s focus should extend beyond demolitions. They urged a prioritization of citizens’ welfare and the resolution of various challenges such as affordable transportation, improved electricity, and market rehabilitation.
As the debate on the demolition initiative continued, some recognized the need for transformation through temporary deconstruction. However, they advised Wike to also concentrate on the welfare of original inhabitants and residents, addressing issues like hunger and lack of resources.
In terms of security, stakeholders emphasized the complex nature of the issue and called for a balance between urban development and the protection of residents. They advocated for proper notifications, evacuation plans, and potential compensation for affected individuals.
Regarding education, proprietors, students, and activists stressed the importance of repairing school infrastructure to create a conducive learning environment. They saw investment in education as crucial for future success and urged Wike to allocate resources toward improving educational facilities.
In summary, while acknowledging the need for urban development, various stakeholders urged the Minister to prioritize citizens’ immediate needs and holistic well-being. They suggested comprehensive approaches that address essential services, security, education, and infrastructure improvements, emphasizing that progress involves a combination of preservation and transformation.