THE FCT BROOM AND PUBLIC DECENCY

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The broom at the Abuja city gate is a monument to impunity

If the claim that some supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) erected the big broom at the Abuja City Gate is credible, it means that anybody can erect anything within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) without statutory permit. But we find the statement very hard to believe and consider it the height of irresponsibility that the Abuja authorities would keep silent over what should never have happened in the first place. No democratic government should get so political as to consider setting up a party symbol within the precinct of a national monument. If the FCT Minister does not know his job, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to demand the pulling down of the statue.

Upon entering Abuja from the airport, it is certain that anyone who sees the giant broom would conclude that Nigeria has degenerated into a country with minimal or no sense of decency. Meanwhile, history is littered with the shattered remains of toppled statues in many countries, including the United States. Symbols such as flags and portraits as well as controversial monuments that are considered divisive are being torn down as a mark of respect for unity in diversity in most societies. That is why we find the erection of the broom statue at the Abuja city gate clearly unacceptable. Nigeria is not a one-party country, and should not be made to look so by those who have no appreciation of what they are in office for.

While we struggle to recall any historical moments when a ruling party erected its symbol within the precinct of a national monument in our country, we fail to understand what informed such abuse of public decency. It is all the more egregious that this is a government that campaigned in 2015 to fix all that had gone wrong with Nigeria, including acts of public shenanigan which the erected broom truly represents. Up till now, no one in the Federal Capital Territory Administration whose job it is to check such public abuses has told Nigerians who erected the broom, and no one has deemed it fit to pull it down despite all the public outcry. The conclusion to draw is that the erection of the broom has official imprimatur.

It is unfortunate because some experts have lamented what they see as a lack of appreciation of the growing brand potential of the city gate monument by the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA). The city gate, according to a brand manager, Mr Cyril Harcourt, is beginning to grow as a tourist destination especially for staff of some foreign embassies in Abuja celebrating their national days. “Ireland and some other countries have lit up the monument at night in their national colours and circulated the pictures. The monument shouldn’t be contaminated with local partisanship by erecting a party symbol near it,” said Harcourt. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and many Nigerians have also condemned the idea.

Regardless of the people behind the statue, we urge the Abuja authorities to stop shirking its duties. It is not right to have the symbol of a party at the city gate, or any other place where public monuments are built. The FCDA must realise that there is a limit to politicking and that respect for public decency should never be sacrificed on the altar of partisanship. They should never condone what is clear lawlessness. As far as most Nigerians are concerned, the expensive big broom erected at the Abuja city gate is obscene, provocative and a monument to impunity. It should be removed immediately.