Relocation to Abuja 18 years ago

 

This policy guided the Federal Capital Development Authority in the choice of the consultant to prepare the Master plan for the city from among consultants from home and abroad who submitted proposals for the project. Those of them, who in particular were involved with Brasilia and Dodoma, were carefully avoided. The consultant eventually chosen was a consortium of American professionals in the areas of Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture and Engineering. No single individual can be identified as the Consultant for the Master Plan of Abuja.

Anyone visiting the Federal Capital Territory for the first time even today despite the construction activities that have been carried out and are still going on all over the territory, will no doubt be impressed and captivated by its rolling terrain covered with beautiful green foliage. Aso Rock stood out as the most impressive promontory in the Territory and it was chosen as the focal point for the city. To ensure that the Rock is visible from all parts of the City heights of buildings were restricted to not more than 13 floors. In effect engineering factors such as structural stability, provision of water, electricity, fire prevention were not the primary issues for restricting the heights of buildings in the city. The large area of the Territory of about 8,000 square kilometres (800,000 hectares) made it easy to have ample land for spreading the City conveniently.

Also ample green grass areas are provided by restricting slopes of the rolling terrain where buildings can be erected. It should be noted that the city covers only about 25,500 hectares and provision has been made for the establishment of satellite towns in different parts of the territory, each with its own planning requirements and control. The possibility of constructing sky scrappers in such satellites in future therefore exists.

With regard to the administration of the City and Territory, the policy of the Military Government that originated the project was that all the original inhabitants of the Territory should be moved out and resettled outside the Territory so that there will be nobody claiming to be an original owner of any part of the Territory, while others are regarded as settlers, thus making it necessary for those residents concerned to travel to their homes when national census is being conducted.

However, the implementation of the policy of resettlement, which began with the establishment of New Wuse outside the Territory along the Abuja-Kaduna Road was abandoned soon after the beginning of the Shehu Shagari Administration in 1979 and instead, the Federal Territory Administration was set up to look after the original inhabitants of the Territory. The Administration was not even under the Federal Capital Development Authority, which was set up by Law to be responsible for all aspects of the development of the Territory. It was pointed out at the time that the procedure being adopted would lead in no distant future, to the Federal Capital City Abuja becoming a tenant of the Territory in the same way as the Federal Government was regarded as a tenant of Lagos State, which led to the establishment of a new Federal Capital in the first place.

These fears are now more than justified by subsequent events, because today, there are Local Government Councils in the Territory outside the City. This issue will no doubt be in the front burner when either a review of the constitution is carried out or a brand new Constitution is prepared by a Sovereign National Conference for the nation.

F.A.O. Oseni,
Lagos



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