Nyanya, Abuja’s Neglected Slum

Beyond the neon lights and paved lawns of Maitama and Asokoro, Nyanya, one of the Federal Capital Territory’s satellite towns is downtrodden from years of neglect and lack of basic infrastructure,Olawale Ajimotokan reports

Nyanya is a sprawling cobweb of rusty and decrepit low-cost quarters, nestled on the foot of the rolling green peaks in the central area of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
It is a stone throw from the highbrow Asokoro and Mogadishu Cantonment. It is located along a major route that serves as an artery linking the FCT and central part of the country, like Lafia, Jos, Makurdi, Otukpo, Jalingo, Bauchi as far as towns in southern heartland such as Enugu, Nsukka and Onitsha.
Nyanya, where scores were killed following the 2014 bombing by Boko Haram terrorists, is unlikely to evade the gaze of a first time visitor to Abuja from any of the destinations or other places on the route. In fact, Nyanya is the border between the FCT and Nasarawa State.
Such is its prominence that population pressure and development in the communities along the Abuja – Keffi axis is gradually leading to emergence of a conurbation, with Nyanya as the melting pot.
It is a community populated by middle and low class public workers and others in the same category, who cannot afford the high cost of accommodation inside Abuja.
But unfortunately as is the nature of cleverly conceived schemes in this clime, a declining standard of living has set in the area arising from neglect and infrastructural decay, such that to residents and visitors, Nyanya is no more than a slum and an eyesore.
Though it is a satellite town divided into five areas for proper enumeration and served by a General Hospital plus a Squadron 21 Mobile Police Unit and the Nigeria Police Divisional Police Headquarters, its roads are deplorable and without a bus terminal, public park, market and adequate public schools.
Most Nyanya residents can’t access potable water while the sanitary condition in many houses is alarming because they are not linked to the central sewage plant.
With the effect of the torrential rainfall of recent days, the already bad roads of Nyanya have become impassable, compounding the woes of the residents.
A local, Abubakar Nagaiza, narrated the residents’ plight to this reporter during an assessment tour of the area.
Nagaiza runs a dry cleaning business from a shop along a street in Area D. He has been residing in Nyanya for about 10 years and said that lack of good roads in addition to poor drainage caused by erosion each time it rains is affecting business.
“The impact of the rain on the people can be worrisome. The road is a bit poor and not motorable. There is no drainage and if it rains, the whole place is flooded. It could also pose risk for the health of the people because of concern about cholera and mosquito borne diseases that can be caused by stagnant water.
“I expect prompt intervention of government to provide basic amenities for the people. They should fix the road and drainage so that business can thrive. Apart from that they should also address juvenile unemployment as students and youths that are not engaged are prone to criminal acts,’’ Nagaiza pleaded.
Another resident, Garba Yahaya portrayed the wretched state of infrastructure as a deliberate neglect by those in government. He insisted that rather than being allowed to become a slum, Nyanya deserves to be given proper attention as one of FCT satellite towns.
Yahaya rejected the notion that Nyanya’s prevailing conditions resulted out of circumstances that it is a border settlement between Nasarawa State and FCT.
He insisted that such should be an issue as Nyanya is legally placed under the administration of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
“It is annoying to hear the argument that Nyanya is on the fringe of Abuja and Nasarawa State when in reality it is under FCT administration and a bonafide part of Abuja. Nyanya is administered by AMAC and not a border. Unfortunately, we are suffering because of the self-serving and lip service attitude of politicians and our past leaders. We are paying for government negligence,” Yahaya lamented.
The former chief security officer of Power Holding Company (PHC), who has been living in Nyanya for 26 years, said successive administrations were fond of hoodwinking the residents with bogus promises, particularly during election years.
“Usually, such assurances only turn out to be a ruse as they (politicians) disappear and don’t fulfill their promises after getting power through the votes of the electorate. We are pleading with the present government to alleviate our problems as the roads are completely bad. It is unacceptable that it is only one road in the entire Nyanya that is functional and that is Area B and C,” Yahaya said.
Even the so called functional Area C Road often regarded as the ‘Last Road’ is in state of disrepair as it is without drainage while its surface is riddled with craters.
Some residents have even criticised the MOPOL Squadron for the cordon erected on Area D Road as a security measure. They said the measure was causing traffic gridlock during peak hours as many road users resort to finding alternative routes to link up with the main road.
‘’Even the B and C roads are not good. Look at how the roads are. They are not good. Nyanya is a good place but unfortunately due to diverse problems, including congestion, people are deserting the area,’’ lamented Donatus Obi.
According to Obi, some residents under the aegis of the landlord association had made several unsuccessful representations to the FCTA for upgrading of the facilities in the area.
We gathered that the World Bank even made deliberate efforts to reconstruct the Area B Road given its primacy as the road that links up the General Hospital with Area A. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned midway after some initial sand filling work.
But the FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, said the administration would address some of the complaints by providing a new bus terminal to ease traffic congestion in Nyanya. Bello said the terminal which cost is put at N628 million is more than 60 per cent complete and will be inaugurated by the end of the year.
The station will include departure and arrival terminus in addition to banking hall, security block, and garage for buses. Other structures under construction, according to the minister also are a church, a mosque, an administrative block as well as public conveniences.
The minister said the contractors handling the project had assured that they would finish work by the end of the year.
The development of a new Nyanya bus terminal was conceived by the FCT administration to provide a secure and convenient facility with adequate services for use by commuters, sequel to the series of bombing at the old Nyanya Motor Park, which led to the loss of many lives.
Bello, however expressed displeasure over the commencement of the project without taking into account the construction of an access road to the new terminal.
He said that the old bombed site was designed to be a green area and a beautiful enclosure but not a motor park.