By Stanley Onyekwere and Mashe Umaru Gwamna
As the 25th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) kicked off yesterday, amid tight security, some residents living in Aleita, Kuchigoro, Lugbe and other adjourning villages, along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport road, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have bemoaned the erection of perimeter fencing around their settlements, ahead of the Forum.
They expressed their disgust over the decision of the federal government to construct walls, barricading specific areas along the axis, for what they described as an attempt to shield the place from the eye of the guests and participants attending the Forum.
Also, they expressed their aniexty and anguish that the fence has blocked many paths through which they can use to access their respective homes inside the villages.
Peoples Daily gathered that the fencing of the area started before Easter (last month) and has drawn comments from concerned residents in the FCT.
Meanwhile, a visit around the Territory especially the city centre revealed that FCT residents complied with the Federal Government’s directive, restricting movement, with the exception of those on essential duty.
While most residents stayed at home, with security agents were seen at strategic locations within the FCT, and some roads hitherto known to be very busy, however witnessed light vehicular movements, while entry points such as Bwari, Zuba, Gwagwalada and Nyanya/Mararaba axis had heavy security presence.
The airports road, which often recorded heavy vehicular movement and sometimes gridlock, was free of traffic, except for the intermittent movement of delegates arriving for the forum.
According to a resident in Aleita, Mr. Michael Moses, who spoke to Peoples Daily, said from all indications, the rationale behind the fencing of the villages along the road; ‘is because visitors coming for the Forum will see the slums in the area, hence why the government has to take the decision of blocking places.
Another resident in the area, Bode Foluson, says “the decision of blocking everywhere I think it started before Easter, according to them (government) they are making the walls because of the forum happening in FCT.
“I think the government is doing that for the security challenge in Nigeria, even though the walls are making us to trek far distance and meters than we used to before.
On his part, a resident of Kuchigoro, Salisu Ibrahim, who said that building walls to barricade the area doesn’t make sense, noted that “we are talking about abducted schoolgirls, blocking suburbs with walls is more important to the government.
“It made us to feel that this country doesn’t not need or respect poor citizens like u. Otherwise, why will they just suddenly erect walls around us. It’s very unfortunate,” he said.
“When you go to their countries, don’t they have villages and towns, but even with towns or villages along the airport road having demarcation doesn’t change who we are as nation.
“Although, for me the fencing is good because of the situation in the country, but doing it now is not proper, it eye service for the Forum,” said One Mrs. Grace Sunday, a resident in the area.
Similarly, security was tight in and around the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja Forum on Africa, is expected to attract all stakeholders including prospective foreign and local investors, captains of industry and, government officials, among others.
Workers on essential duty, who rely on public transportation, had a chaotic time reaching their offices, as there are few commercial transporters operating within the city.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had on May 3 ordered the closure of all government offices and schools in the FCT, during the duration of the Forum (May 7 to May 9) to ensure hitch-free event.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, had in a statement by explained that the directive was to ensure free flow of traffic in the city during the event.