By By Ibrahim Biu
As a journalist residing in Abuja for over twenty years or so now, I have followed with keen interest developmental activities in the FCT. I must admit that the pace of development, especially as it concerns FCT residents directly, like the provision of critical infrastructure, has been impressive, particularly in the past four years. This is in spite of ever dwindling funding.
However, I feel that due to the lukewarm attitude of officials of the Satellite Towns Development Agency there is still a lot to be done. Already some FCT residents living in such areas have expressed heartfelt concerns about the plight of such areas and have recently even mandated their leaders to send a strongly worded letter to Senator Bala Mohammed on the issue and they intend to copy such letters of protest to Ms Olajumoke, the minister of state for FCT who is also supervising the satellite areas and to other FCTA/FCDA officials concerning the deplorable situation in areas like Kubwa, Lugbe, Nyanya and a few others across the territory.The affected residents argued that development of satellite towns which is being supervised by the Minister of state, Ms Olajumoke Akinjide has not received Senator Bala’s sharp x-raying for sometimes now.
Despite the re-invigoration of the almost-forgotten Satellite Development Agency now headed by Tukur Ibrahim Bako, it appears the officials in charge of running the agency are yet to come up with any deliberate policy which wills fast-track the development of the satellite towns in the FCT. If such a policy exists, it is perhaps only accessible to FCT officials since enquiries by this reporter about the availability of such a document have not yielded positive results within the past few days or so. Such a policy document is very important and crucial for any meaningful progress to be made in developing such towns. The policy if available should aim at the massive provision of infrastructural facilities and social amenities to such areas which are many across the territory.
There are satellite towns in five area councils namely Municipal, Bwari and Gwagwalada, Kuje and Abaji. These are Kuje, Gwagwalada, Bwari, Zuba, Nyanya, Lugbe, Kubwa, Kwali and Abaji. Most of these areas accommodate the bulk of workers in the FCT as they cannot afford to live in the city center due to high rent and high cost of living. The situation in the satellite towns have been described as worrisome by some FCT residents despite the efforts being made by Senator Bala to spread development to all areas of the FCT. Some of my colleagues had at a recent discussion at Wuse offered some few suggestions which might help to change the situation.
When my colleagues visited some of the satellite areas they discovered that there were pot-holes in some areas while some residents complained publically about lack of good roads and other social services. Two of my colleagues Mr. ZeiduAro and Johnson Aturo offered some suggestions which they believe could make a difference in these towns. They suggestthat deliberate efforts must be made to provide some incentives to the areas and that a deliberate policy should be provided to take care of such areas. Such policy documents should be made available to the public through publicizing it in the media or other strategic places so that FCT residents will be aware of what the government is doing to change the situation for the better.
For example, many residents have expressed concern about the deep pot holes that dotes these satellite towns apart from the frequent blackouts being experienced by the residents as well as lack of portable water and drainages. Therefore there is need for a change of attitude on the part STDA officials to be at par with that of the Minister who is known as an action Minister. If there is a policy which guides the operations of the officials, the public are entitled to know about it and to even be accessible to such a policy document.
No matter what the agency’s officials think they might have achieved or done in the past few years in the FCT, it is still necessary for them to review their strategy because the situation on the ground as at now demands for that. Last week, my colleagues and I visited some of these satellite towns in Bwari and Gwagwalada area councils and our findings had shown that there is need for improvement here and there. No matter what the officials have done before or now there is need for the satellite officials to look at their efforts in service delivery with a view to improving the prevailing situation. Even if the agency had probably been able to accomplish some of its plan for these areas, the situation on the ground demands a lot of action from all FCTA/FCDA officials in order to ameliorate what the ordinary citizen is exposed to everyday in search of their livelihood.
It is a known fact as argued by the residents that if improvement is carried out in the satellite towns through infrastructural provision and provision of essential amenities like water, good roads and hospitals as well as other facilities it will reduce the pressure on the city center and even help to reduce crime and youth delinquency.
Ibrahim Biu is an Abuja-based journalist.