For so long, the city centre of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been bordered by countless slums and ghetto settlements.
Most of these slums have eluded imaginations as they are situated around elegant houses and infrastructure, especially around Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
As a result of housing deficit in the nation’s capital, many people live in these slums but work in the city. The growth of informal settlements around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has largely been as a result of inadequate and non-affordable housing for all classes of the citizenry.
These slums can be located in Nyanyan, Mararaba, Asokoro, Garki, Utako, Katampe, Karu, Jikwoyi, Oronzo, Kuchingoro, Aleita, Piwayi, Gbesa, Kabusa, among others.
It was observed that the suburbs, such as Kubwa, Nyanya, Karu and Lugbe have all been taken over by slums. It has now turned into a village and still expanding in size.
Cases of robbery, hard drug sales and intake have been reported on several occasions. The rate of reproduction in these villages also has no boundaries as many of them end up raised pathetically, often without quality education.
During an interaction with Aliyu Haruna, ‘Okada Rider’ and a father of six, who also stays in a slum around Karu, told DailySun he has been living there for years, after relocating from Kano state.
“I didn’t start as an Okada rider. I was making fried noodles with egg and other ingredients (Meshai). When I got married and started giving birth, I had to do something else, which is this okada business.
“This has been going on for 6years now. My wife hawks fried yam and Kunu and brings money home for the family. My kids have not been enrolled into school yet because I don’t have the money to meet up with fees.
When asked if Haruna pays rent or dues to anyone for taking a space for him and his family, he said, “No I don’t pay anything to anyone except electricity bill to a house close to us which we tapped from. We sometimes don’t have to pay because we were allowed free tapping from the house owner who volunteered to help us with electricity with some little amount from N5000 in two to three months.
“He’s a nice man and I can say he is a blessing to my family and others staying around here with me. Robbery cases we have had is stealing of generating sets and household items like Iron, Kettle, mobile phones and other things your neighbour can steal.
Nurudeen Ibrahim, who stays in Garki Area 11, on a land that has been unattended to for some years, said “robbery is not a problem here. We pay police officers to keep watch. We often face problems from drug pushers and cult rivals.”
“Most of them bring their problems here that eventually involves the authorities, but we try not to expose ourselves because we are unauthorised to be where we are.
“Extortion from people we don’t recognise is a problem. Most times, we have to call someone from the police force, to bail us out when an overwhelming guiding influence comes around to oppress us.
“The owner of the land demolished some wooden houses, but left mine because according to the labourers, he wants to build a school.
Hafsat Kasim, living in a slum, peopled by a battery of artisans in Utako, close to the popular Jabi Motor Park, said “Robbery attacks around here has gotten to the extent that it is normal, until we had to start paying vigilantes to start watching over us.
“In my description, we are just under God’s surveillance. We have witnessed more than once, cultist clashes, police chasing, robbers and cultists down to our place. Drug dealers use this place as a hideout sometimes to sell their products.
“Kasim said virtually everyone staying on the land contributes an amount of money that vary. She said the land surveyor gave a price of N7,000 monthly, but sometimes pay less.
“He comes with threats to chase or report us to the police. Not withstanding, the owner of the land has helped us in terms of shelter, but I don’t think the surveyor should be threatening us like that. He knows we’ll pay but he’ll still be agitated about the whole thing.”
Abdulsamaad Musa, staying at Mabushi Village, said the community has been facing open defecation problems and still trying to find solutions to it for a long time.
He added that residents around the area complain about many refuse dumps that have been unattended to.
“It’s getting better now, but not so good. The stench is unbearable. We don’t have problems of extortion around here. We have been living peaceful for a long time. Electricity might be a problem but we are managing ourselves here.