By Stanley Onyekwere
The Abuja Master Plan urgently needs to be reviewed, bearing in mind that the provisions for inclusiveness of all classes of citizen had been violated by the mangers of the city against global development trends, according to a Lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Mr. Christian Okeke.
Okeke decried that 38 years after the Plan was drafted, same is yet to undergo review, despite the many symptoms, which show that all is not well with it.
In particular, he stressed that the Abuja Master Plan have outlived its usefulness, considering the trends of developments, which experts said demand that master plan of a city ought to be reviewed at most every 5 years, so as to capture the realities of the times.
In a paper titled “ The role of the media in the review of Abuja Master Plan”, delivered at a recent media retreat in Kaduna, he insisted that successive governments in Nigeria were responsible for the distortion.
The Varsity Don opined that the incessant demolition of illegal structures in Abuja with huge economic implications would not have been necessary, had successive governments remained committed to the master plan.
“First, it is expedient to note that the Abuja Master Plan is a 286-page document produced for the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) by United States of America-based planning consultant – International Planning Associates (IPA) – which was commissioned for that purpose in June 1977 by the Authority which, in itself, was established by the Federal Government as sole agency for the planning, designing and developing of the city.
“The Authority equally was to oversee construction and maintenance of infrastructure in the city. Thus, the consortium got the draft ready in about 18 months.
“Strikingly, the planners originally developed a plan that was simple. They adopted modular, Radburn model in their work. In fact, on page 13, the Plan envisaged that each district (sector) should contain housing for all classes of people.
“The low-income earners should have provision in high-brow districts too. But that is not so. Also, there is lack of those industries envisaged by the Plan for residents of each of the districts.
“Districts like Asokoro are today a sort of exclusives for persons of high status and have, in fact, turned to safe haven for the rich. In the districts, parks were turning to hotels and other such structures,” he explained.
He continues: “When the IPA-developed Master Plan is put side-by-side, the facts on ground, a common characteristic is an obvious distortion to the Plan.
“Take an example. Where is the National Square envisioned by the Master Plan? Where is the National Mall that should have linked to the National Assembly and other monumental symbols of government? Where is the Presidential Palace envisioned to be surrounded by Presidential Gardens.
“Aso Villa was originally planned to be located on the Mall near the National Square but it later was relocated in the main Park and is today surrounded by National Assembly and residential buildings.
“In the same vein, the Women Development Centre has no business with its current location in the area of the Mall according to the original plan.
“But it is there today. Clearly, all of this is contrary to the provisions on page 89 of the Plan.
“Also, it is in the same manner that a Parkway from the airport which should have been a green area is now dotted with estates and all manner of building, raising the question: whose vision is developing Abuja?
“Little wonder then that the Abuja Master Plan appears an elitist project and document which does not meet the needs of the populace.
“This is contrary to what obtains in Canberra, Australia’s capital and Washington DC, the capital of USA, which are all products of national discourse. In fact, if a visitor picks the master plan, will he find his way or get lost while in the city?”