Abuja’s Illegal Occupants

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Olawale Ajimotokan writes about the intrigues surrounding Galuwyi Shere, one of the settlements for relocated communities in the Federal Capital Territory illegally encroached on by the police

The Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA) has condemned the subterranean move of the Nigeria Police to acquire and convert Galuwyi Shere, a sprawling indigenous community settlement into a Mobile Police Barracks.

THISDAY gathered authoritatively that the Public Building Department of FCDA is moving to oust pockets of policemen quartering in the estate.

Sited on a land measuring 900 hectres, Galuwyi Shere, a few kilometres from Mpape in Bwari Area Council, is a cluster of buildings, delineated into several blocks.

It is a landmark and considered a city on its own. There are over 2,000 houses in the settlement. The sheen of the corrugated roofs, often attracts curiosity of air travellers, making the final descent over Lower Usuman Dam into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The contract for Galuwyi Shere was originally awarded in 2006 and was projected to be completed in 2016.

However, when THISDAY visited, the estate, which is several kilometres from the city, it was found to be uncompleted and some occupied portions in abject state.

The link up roads are untarred. Also some of the buildings bear cracks while broken doors and windows are common features. Electricity to the settlement is generated through solar panels. Clean water is a scarce commodity.

It is ironic that in spite of being under renovation, it has a few occupants, including men of the Nigeria mobile police units.

Galuwyi Shere is the proposed housing to resettle the Abuja indigenous communities in the northern flank of the federal capital city. The communities include Utako Village, Mabushi, Jabi Samuel, Jabi Yakubu, Kpaduma, Zhilu (Zhidu), Gishiri, Magajipe, Kado 1 and 2 and Maje.

The relocation of the communities by FCDA will be effected this year. Already, the Emir of Jabi Samuel has begged the authority to relocate his subjects as a long term solution to ease the escalating problems they are battling at the community they are currently living.

THISDAY learnt that the FCDA raised the eyebrow against the police occupation to mitigate another shortcoming that made it lose another specially designed indigenous resettlement community at Jibi to the police.

The Jibi resettlement, now christened MD Abubakar Barracks, is built on an area measuring 480 hectares of land. The estate along the Outer Northern Expressway, is made up of several units of prototype one bedroom apartments now occupied by the men of the police mobile units.

Shielded by mounds of rock, the community with several primary schools and a Nigeria Police Hospital that runs comprehensive medical checkup, an eye clinic, medical laboratory and maternity family plan, extends to the Water Lake Farm Estate.

THISDAY learnt that the Police used the inability of FCDA to complete the Jibi Estate on time as an excuse to trespass the estate meant for indigenous communities.

But following a series of engagements, including payment of some amounts of money, a mutual agreement was reached between the police and FCDA to allow the police authority remain in Jibi.

It was gathered that the concession was brokered when Mohammed Abba Gana was the FCT Minister, following a report tendered by a resettlement Task Force comprising officers from the administrative and finance units in the minister’s office.

The Director Resettlement and Compensation FCDA, Baba Kura Umar, said the department was concerned about the fate of Galuwyi Shere and would not want the police to forcefully occupy the community as they did at Jibi.

“It is true that some policemen, including their officials, have occupied some parts of Galuwyi Shere. I am aware also that the FCDA Public Building Department is duly following up the issue to eject the police, who have been put on notice. We are conscious of what befell Jibi and want to ensure that Galuwyi Shere is preserved in the interest of the indigenous communities. Very soon, the policemen squatting in Galuwyi Shere will be ejected because if we don’t do so, the tendency that they may covert it is very high,” Umar vowed.

Umar heads the department charged on behalf of the FCT Administration and federal government to settle indigenous communities found within the FCT.

The Public Building Department identifies the villages and enumerates the settlers through data gathering. The houses will then be taken upon completion.

Umar recalled that the immediate past FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, petitioned the then FCT Police Commissioner, when the Department of Resettlement and Compensation cried foul, when alerted by the Executive Secretary of FCDA, about the influx of Police to Galuwyi Shere some years back.

FCTA is embarking on the massive construction of many units of resettlement schemes for the indigenous peoples whose community in the federal capital city are listed for demolition to allow for the modernisation of the city.

Apart from Galuwyi Shere, there are currently three other resettlement schemes under construction by the administration under FCT Minister, Malam Mohammed Musa Bello. The settlements are Wassa and Apo. The fourth mooted by the FCDA is called Anangada Resettlement Scheme.

It is a two pronged project- a satellite town like Gwagwalada and Kubwa to feed the city-Anangada Satellite Town and Anangada resettlement scheme existing side by side with other villages.

FCTA, late last year, flagged off the construction of the Apo-Wassa dual carriageways, to link up the two settlements. The project expected to be completed in a time span of 12 months, will cost about N8.62 billion. The road that is part of the Outer Southern Expressway will pull up at Apo-Kashi Road.

The Apo resettlement scheme will take care in phases of dwellers from Garki Village in the next few months and people living in Apo and Akpanjenya Villages along that axis.

The other one is the Wassa resettlement scheme built on 700 hectares of land, to accommodate the original inhabitants along the airport axis. The villages include, Kuchingoro, Chika, Aleita, Piwoyi and Karomanjigi. The villages at Chika and Aleita are to move in the first instance for the Abuja Technology Village along the Airport planned by donor agencies.

A background history to the resettlement of indigenous communities within the federal capital city will suffice.

The settlement communities were conceptualised when the FCT was created in 1976.The new capital was an area where there were no settlements. The Akinola Aguda Panel and sub-committees that recommended the movement premised its report on the assumption that there were no settlements there. A team of consultants from the University of Ibadan, led by Prof. Akin Mabogunje, was later tasked to come out with how to resettle the communities found to exist there.

Settlements inhabited by the indigenous communities in Phase One of the federal capital city within FCT were earmarked for relocation. The settlements comprised Jabi, Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse, Garki, all the way to Lugbe.

But government chose to concentrate on some villages within Phase One, like Maitama and Asokoro, and stopped further because of limited finances. Villages in Maitama and Asokoro were moved to Kokoaba and New Maitama along Kaduna Road. New Karu and New Wuse were also created.

Utako and Jabi were not moved because of monetary consideration but government allowed those it could not relocate to remain where they were until it had the means to start development in those areas.

By 1983, Kubwa and Ushafa were developed anew until government realised it could not keep pace with developing these communities. That led to the idea of integrating the villages within the city centre. Integration means, instead of being moved for development to continue, the villages be allowed to remain where they were.

It started in Garki with the urban part existing closely with the villages without running water and unplanned road.

Eventually it was realised that integration was not an option as the whole thing became an eyesore.

The administration of Nasir el-Rufai, considered the issue of resettlement was becoming a time bomb and the delay from the period when they had not moved out of town, had hindered development as population kept expanding and the villages kept growing, while the amount of money voted to cater for them bludgeoned.

Subsequently, he conjured the idea of resettlement schemes, where they could relocate the communities within the federal capital city given the cost of providing infrastructure was becoming high within the FCT.

At the moment, living in GaIuwyi Shere could be a nightmare because the connecting road from Mpape is in bad shape. The situation could be compounded by the approaching rainy season.

But Umar said the contract for the road, soak away and internal reticulation are ongoing. Some of the houses which are dilapidated and destroyed by fire are also being renovated while provisions are in the master plan for amenities that will make life comfortable for the resettled once they start moving those that need to move.

“In Galuwyi Shere, there are provisions for farms, workshops and skills acquisition centre. We are trying to install a library, schools, clinics and a police post. We also have a big commercial area which is akin to the big Abuja commercial market, cultural centre, banks, fire station, women development centre, private primary school, day secondary school, district hospitals, central motor parks and open market because by nature, as people in the city, they need some time to adapt from what they were used to from a number of years. I am aware that the health and human secretariat is mulling contract for a clinic. There are some responsibility for the area councils concerning markets,” Umar said.

He insisted the technical people at FCT Administration ensured that the construction of Galuwyi Shere conformed to the UN and World Bank global best practice standard on resettlement.

“If you have seen Jibi, they are completely different from what you have in Galuwyi Shere. That Jibi model is like a barrack styled. Galuwyi Shere is modern 3-bedroom with all amenities in adherence to UN Article that if it is inevitable they are moved, it must be to a place which is better than where they are coming from. Go to Jabi Yakubu and see where they are staying. In Galuwyi Shere, somebody formerly living in a small shack with all his family, will now be given three-bedroom with parlour, water system, everything to better their lives.”