“Christmas has lost its meaning in Abuja. It is difficult to differentiate when it’s Christmas and an ordinary season because everything is the same. Until 2015, there used to be Christmas trees and designs within Abuja city. I don’t know what has happened, but Christmas has left Abuja,” complained Mrs Hassana Josiah.
Mrs Josiah is not alone. There are thousands of Abuja residents who are yet to come to grasp with
what would have informed what observers refer to as a ‘yearly bleak Christmas’ in Abuja. Many respondents who spoke to Daily Sun, wondered why the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) decided to put an end to some yearly activities in Abuja.
For instance, the Abuja carnival, until the appointment of the current FCT minister, Muhammad Bello, was a yearly program that held in the city. The event was held around November of every year. It featured road shows, musics, cultural dances, masquerades, durbar and lots more with participants from all the states of Nigeria. It was a great occasion and had spectators from around the globe.
Like others, the annual event has gone with the wind. Beside few political rallies and religious gatherings, Abuja doesn’t host any event. Life goes on in the nation’s capital city as if nothing matters. It is unclear what would have happened. Or what would have informed the unannounced disappearance of the carnival.
Beside the carnival, Abuja, especially during festive seasons like this, was the epicenter of attraction. Major streets and highways were adorned beautiful Christmas designs. No visitor needed anyone to tell him or her that it was Christmas.
Many families who didn’t want to travel to their villages or abroad, found solace in Abuja’s ambience. International tourists visited beautiful places in the city and took photographs. Abuja during Christmas celebrations in the past, was in the news for the right reasons. “All that is history now,” Mrs Josiah lamented, while commenting on the development.
The icing on the cake then was the lightening of the gigantic Christmas tree. The function was usually carried out by the wife of the president, with support from wives of ministers and governor. The last ceremony happened during the administration of Senator Bala Mohammed.
Andrew Eromosele, who told Daily Sun that he has lived in Abuja for almost 15 years, said he was yet to understand the FCT Administration, through the Social Services Secretariat, jettisoned ritual, despite a yearly budgetary allocation.
Eromosele called on the minister to restore the yearly carnival and the beautification of the city during yuletide season.
“I have lived in this city for almost two decades now. So, I can tell you what I know. Olusegun Obasanjo was still the president when I came here. Nasir El-Rufai was the minister then of FCT.
Christmas was always a period to cherish. Abuja was always so beautiful that sometime, we thought we were in other developed countries.
“There was money to shop. Food sellers and other people had enough to celebrate Christmas because people had money to buy these things.
Civil servants were not left out. They were usually given bags of rice and paid their 13th month. Life
was easy. Even the inflation was under country and prices of commodities were low. Everything has changed now.
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“The current administration and the current minister of FCT just came in and that was it. First, the minister stopped the beautification of the city. No explanations were offered. I know that the minister doesn’t like to spend money and he always feels as if it is a waste. I don’t know what he spent our money on if not on things like this.
“All previous ministers of FCT were Muslims. The current minister can’t use his religion as an excuse to stop this yearly practice. Unfortunately, this is the last Christmas we will have before the minister leaves next year. With the money far spent, I doubt if the city can be beautified again. This is very sad for me,” he lamented.
Beside the refusal by the administration to beautify the city and restore the yearly carnival, some relaxation spots in the city, have been neglected. For instance, the Jabi Lake area, which is under the direct control of FCT Administration, is in a bad state. Criminals and other bandits now use the area as their hideouts.
The same spot was always a central spot for people, especially during Christmas or Sallah celebrations. The grasses within the play ground, have overtaken major portions of the lake. The
perimeter fence erected to protect the place, has given way. It is now a free for all affair.