By Bala Musa
The planned relocation of the sprawling Nyanyan town (labour camp) is an action indeed, long awaited and seriously overdue. All along, its been a known fact that the Nyanyan situation needed some sanitizing as the least necessary action but factually no other action could be more appropriate than relocation. Those of us who hold that view have been vindicated by the evolution of the camp as the Achilles heel in the FCTA’s fight against various shades of criminalities and the recent but most devastating incidence of terrorism. Last week disclosure by the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed of this administration resolution to totally demolish and relocate the neighborhood to a new , purpose-built and expansive area, GidanDaya is akin to belling the cat after all. The lessons here are unmistakable. For one, it attests to the understanding that Senator Bala is not a political sphinx, who mixes politics with policies. The decision gives us a man who believe the system is correctible and problem solvable.
Again, this singular decisiveness presupposes that the minister is a man with an engaging conscience and upholds the triumph of right over wrong, even when it may be considered politically disastrous to be right. Yes, Bala is unashamedly right when he takes decisions in furtherance of the objective of leading Abuja into the league of the best 20 capital cities of the world in 2020. The Nyanyalabour camp which came into being some 30years ago was designed as a makeshift residential quarter for the staff of the construction companies involved in the early construction and development of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. As was planned, the Nyanya camp would be dismantled and put to other more appropriate use once exigencies of the early construction as related challenges have been solved.
Contrary to the original plans, the camp surged taking in slum and shanties, straining structures and facilities to the limit as population continually grow. In consequence, there have been monstrous implications of political, security, economic, humanitarian and institutional dimension which altogether have dismantlement and relocation a necessary and remedial measure. It is no consolation that pockets of decency and urban culture exist. For the most part, Nyanya camp is given to an intolerable tension and unsavory mannerism. One will not be far from the truth to say that the Nyanyalabour camp yielded to a civilizational failure with serious demeaning effect or the Nigeria Capital City of Abuja. Nyanya is where garbage is heaved on to the street as it builds up. In Nyanya, motor cyclist or Okada riders troop on to the main road adding to traffic snarl ups, ugly plastered walls are a common sight. Stray animals running onto the main road is another
common situation in Nyanya, and a whole lot of things that are unthinkable in most capital cities of the world. In the meantime, Nyanya became the sore spot of the FCT, providing rooms for prostitution to thrive at a time when commercial sex hawkers were banished from the metropolis; street hawking and its traffic snarl-up effect, and other sort of hideous crimes. Environmental pollution and degradation also arise from over-tasked and blown up sewages, gullies flooding attends the wanton and reckless erections of structures in alleys, water paths are all reason for which the continuity of Nyanya in its present form would definitely exposed the FCT to greater evil in no distant future. In the past, there have been efforts aimed at sanitizing the camp through several measures including the demolition of some structures, re-arrangement of garages and ejections of some quarters but evidently, finding a lasting solution to the problem requires more than just that.
The security challenges that hav bedeviled the country has, indeed, necessitated the dismantlement and relocation of the Nyanyalabour camp as a priority. The Nyanyanlabour camp has obviously presents the terrorist with soft targets as experiences so far have proven. The dense population of the area which is attributed to the general affordability of accommodation in the area is also a source of worry in the light of terrorism as whenever attacks are carried out; the casualty’s figures could be dangerously high. Another dimension to the concern is that if unregulated, wanton and willful springing of structures in the areas, may well be exploited by terrorists to take up residence in the midst of ordinary citizen and thus, increase the exposure to terrorism, the minister has expressed his administration’s determination to protect the live and property of every citizen of FCT, a fact attested to by many people oriented initiatives that have been put in place.
Unarguably, there is every need to uphold the city resilience against terrorism and to sustain the citizen high-morale through programmes that satisfy the aspirations all the strata of the society. In the face of a dwindling national fortune occasioned by the fall in the international price of crude, the inherent advantages that could accrued from the land swap policy of the Bala administration as PPP initiative have become appreciable. A lot of good fortunes have been appropriated the reform. The land swap policy been have hugely accounted for the opening of a number of a new districts, provision of amenities and institutional infrastructure as witness in the FCT today. There is no gain saying the fact the planned development of GidanDaya as an alternative settlement for the most residents of the Nyanya camp will for the most part be anchored on the land swap policy.
While it is to be understood that the relocation of Nyanya has become a matter of strategic imperative, the Administration needs to be reminded to follow due processes and ensure that all due legitimate compensations are settled to avoid acrimony and wasteful litigation. it must ensure that this action too is must reflect its vision, values, goals and character of justice and fairness and in this exercise also, it is essential to balance economic growth with both community desires and environmental stewardship as the new settlement must truly reflect an improvement in the housing mess that the Nyanya camp metamorphosed into.
In this connection, the minister must demonstrate his usual style of matching action with words to ensure that the Gitata- Abuja road is made a reality to lessen the burden of traffic and ease the economic activities of the occupation of the new areas. The citizen, too, it is hoped will understand Government intention and extend maximum cooperation in the project to ensure the attainment of the splendid future of the FCT about which the senator Bala Administration is so ambitious.
Musa Wada sent this piece from Nyanya in FCT, Abuja