Demolition Threats: Abuja residents advise Wike on what to do

Demolition Threats: Abuja residents advise Wike on what to do

FOLLOWING recent announcement made by the newly appointed Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, to carry out mass demolition of wrongly situated houses in the FCT, the capital city has since been abuzz with mixed reactions.

Carrying a reputation as a no-nonsense leader, Wike who took his oath of office alongside 44 other newly appointed Ministers of the Federal Republic, vowed, during his maiden press briefing, to demolish houses that had been built to distort the Abuja Master-plan, and green areas within the nation’s capital, no matter whose property will be affected.

His proposed plan for mass demolition seeks to tackle what he perceives to be illegal and unplanned structures that have marred the cityscape and compromised efforts towards sustainable urban development.

“All those people who are distorting the Masterplan of Abuja, too bad. If you know you have built where you are not supposed to build, it will go down.

“Be you a Minister of anywhere, be you an ambassador, if you know you have developed where you were not supposed to develop, your house must go down. Those who have taken over the green areas to build, sorry, our parks must come back, the green areas must come back. If you hate green, you must hate yourself,” Wike said.

However, this decision has drawn significant criticism from civil society organizations (CSOs), community leaders, activists, Abuja residents, and others, who spoke to SATURDAY VANGUARD, argued that Wike’s energy would be better channeled into improving essential services such as primary healthcare, education, and security.

Furthermore, they said the Minister’s focus on demolition overshadows the urgent need for the revitalization and improvement of essential services in the FCT, stressing that while unauthorized structures should be addressed, it should not come at the expense of neglecting residents’ basic needs.

Recalling the administrative style of the former Minister of FCT, Abuja residents, while some agree with the need for clearing illegal structures, they cautioned against a disproportionate focus on demolition, urging  Wike to correct the status quo and strike a balance in his attempt to carry out his constitutional duties as Minister of the nation’s capital.

According to them, These demolitions will displace thousands of people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Instead of tearing down homes, let’s focus on bolstering medical facilities, upgrading schools, and providing adequate security measures to ensure the well-being of all residents.

Dilapidated PHCs

Speaking on the need to bring alive many of the Primary Healthcare Centers, PHCs, lying fallow, a mother of 3, and trader, Agnes Ibeh, said:  “Wike must prioritize the revamping of primary health care centers and public health facilities in Abuja. These facilities are in dire need of improvement, especially for the poor who heavily rely on them for basic healthcare services.

“It’s about time the government pays attention to the sorry state of primary health care centers in Abuja. The new Minister should work towards providing better facilities and equipment to ensure that the poor have access to quality healthcare because everyday we hospitals are counting needless death. I mean, death that was never supposed to happen in the first instance, but because of non-affordability and the poor state of PHCs, many people have lost their lives and families have been forced to go into mourning.”

Also, an Abuja-based resident Doctor, resident, John Ikechukwu, said: “The current state of these facilities is appalling and it’s the poor who suffer the most. We need an immediate action plan to address this issue. The poor in Abuja deserve better healthcare facilities. We hope that the new Minister recognizes this and takes immediate steps to revamp primary health care centers and improve the public health facilities to meet the needs of the underprivileged.

“Also, as residents, we call on the new Minister to prioritize investments in primary health care centers. These facilities are often the first point of contact for the poor, and if revamped, they can greatly improve access to healthcare services for the most vulnerable in our society.”

On her part, a teacher, Gloria Adamu, said: “We hope that the new Minister understands the importance of investing in healthcare for the poor. Investing in primary health care centers and public health facilities will not only improve the lives of the underserved but also contribute to the overall health and well-being of the entire community.

“The new Minister should visit the primary health care centers and public health facilities in Abuja to see firsthand the deplorable conditions they are in. Revamping them is essential to ensure that the poor have access to basic healthcare services.”

Livelihood 

Some of the community leaders also echoed their sentiments, emphasizing the need for affordable transportation, improved electricity, rehabilitation of markets, among others.

“The government should prioritize the welfare of its citizens. Rather than demolishing structures and displacing people, there should be concerted efforts to address the numerous challenges faced by our communities, including basic amenities,”

Oluwatosin Adewale, a young professional living in Abuja, expressed her concerns, saying: “I understand the need to tackle illegal structures, but we also need a functional waterboard system, improved electricity and affordable transport system. I think his priority should be improving the lives of residents, not simply tearing down buildings.”

Yinka Adebayo said: “Well, I personally believe that this demolition is for the best as there can be no reformation or repairs without destruction first. I mean a whole wrapper (yard) is given to a tailor to make a dress and he first cuts the whole wrapper in pieces before he is able to make something beautiful out of it. But, Wike should be guided. If I were him I will look out for bettering the life of the original inhabitants and the life of the residents in Abuja. People are hungry and children are suffering, he should look into that.”

Speaking, a Civil Servant, Beatrice Odeh, said: “It is like he has come to continue the killing of poor, innocent and feeble people, where El Rufai stopped that year, if you ask me. Is that what Abuja people need most? Even if that’s one of the things he hopes to achieve during his tenure, it should not be announced on the very first day of taking up office. Haba nah!!

“That means he came with his slogan  “as e dey pain, na so e dey sweet us”.

Please, please, please,Mr Wike! Have a  rethink. As for the things he should put in the front burner: he is already known as: Mister projects, he can prove it by completing many abandoned or uncompleted projects lying here and there in Abuja, especially roads in the suburbs.  He should think of a better life for us.

Improving workers’ welfare. Improving our schools’ system.

“Our transportation and good maintenance culture should be activated.Security of lives and properties by engaging our employed able bodied youths in meaningful ventures. That will keep them busy physically, mentally and emotionally.  Light is another big problem.”

Security

Speaking on security, an Abuja-based social media influencer, Ofido Goodness, said: “This is a complex and controversial issue as it is going to affect people in so many ways.

“If indeed his reason for implementing the demolition is for urban restructuring and development, and not for show of power because of the seat he occupies, it is only fair that he notifies people in areas that’ll be affected, give them time to evacuate the area and consider to compensate them.

“Also, FCT is gradually becoming insecure with lots of stories on Kidnapping, and Killings flying around. I really do not know if it’s within his capacity to ensure the state is secure but I hope it’s being looked into.”

John Chukwu, a trader, urged Wike to improving street lights as part of effort to improve security in the nation’s capital.

“Dear new Minister, please prioritize improving security in Abuja. We need to feel safe in our own city. Increase police presence, enhance surveillance systems, and implement effective crime prevention measures.

“Street lights are a crucial aspect of urban safety. We request the new Minister to ensure adequate street lighting in all areas of Abuja to deter criminal activities and make the city more accessible and secure for pedestrians and motorists”, he said.

A clergyman, Adamu Amos, said:  “As active members of the Abuja community, we urge the new Minister to focus on enhancing security measures. We appreciate the efforts made so far, but further investment is needed to combat rising crime rates and maintain the peaceful reputation of our beloved city.

“Improved security and street lighting not only ensure our safety but also contribute to the overall development and growth of Abuja. We implore the new Minister to prioritize allocating resources to address these critical issues for the benefit of all residents.”

Education

Urging Wike to also look into the area of educational development in the FCT, a proprietress, Precious Foundational School, Veronica Ukanwa, said: “Finally, it’s about time the Wike prioritizes education in Abuja! Repairing dilapidated school infrastructures will create a better learning environment for our children. Investing in education is a step in the right direction. It will help bridge the educational gap and enhance the quality of education in Abuja.”

A 400 level student of University of Abuja, Where Chisom, said: “Repairing dilapidated school infrastructures will improve the overall educational experience in Abuja. Students will have access to better facilities and resources.

“Investing in education is an investment in our future. It will empower our children and equip them with the necessary skills to succeed in life. Wike should look in this direction.”

Stakeholders react 

Various CSOs have criticized Wike’s stance on demolition, arguing that it fails to prioritize the welfare of Abuja’s residents.

The founder, Coalition of Good Governance, Ahmed Abdullahi, said: “The focus should instead shift towards enhancing primary health care centers, improving security measures, bolstering electricity supply, upgrading educational facilities, establishing affordable transportation systems, improving livelihood opportunities, rehabilitating markets, and expanding road networks.

Also, the Secretary General, Concerned Citizens, CC, said: “While we acknowledge the need for urban development, it is crucial that the minister addresses the urgent needs of the people first. Sometimes progress lies in preserving the foundations of a community rather than tearing them down.”

On his part, the Chief of the Lugbe Community, Mr. Danlami Shekwozhanyi, suggested alternative approaches, such as regularizing illegal structures through a rigorous vetting process and imposing penalties on violators, rather than resorting to mass demolitions that might leave vulnerable individuals homeless.

Also, a socio political activist, Deji Adeyanju, said: “Dear Minister, as someone deeply invested in social causes, I must urge you to broaden your focus beyond just demolishing houses. Our society requires well-rounded development, including healthcare centers, educational institutions, sports facilities, enhanced security measures, and more.

“I implore you to approach your role holistically. While demolishing houses might be necessary in some cases, it is equally critical to invest in healthcare centers, educational institutions, sports centers, and security measures. This will lead to a more sustainable and inclusive development strategy for our city.”

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