Title: ABUJA: The Evolution and Development of a Federal Capital City. Published in 2021
Author: Jumai Ahmadu, Ph.d, Helpline Foundation for the Needy, Abuja
Reviewer: Salisu Sani Majema
‘Abuja is a city in Nigeria like no other. That it was founded on the need for a place that would represent to us a symbol of our oneness and national unity and indeed, a home to all Nigerians’.
‘A city like Abuja that is founded on a clear set of ideals and being built in compliance with a vision and a Master Plan’.
The above testimony is contained in a Forward by the current FCT Minister, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, to the book, ‘ABUJA: The Evolution and Development of a Federal Capital City’ published by Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, Ph.d..
While sincerely commending the author, for the time and sacrifices she has invested to bring this book out, Musa Bello stated ‘I am proud to note, that she is, indeed, one of our bright stars in the administration. This is certainly a seminal document. It is very pertinent that the story is being told by an insider – a young woman who has been in the theatre, observing the operations and sometimes doing her own bit in her own little corner. The book has been very incisive’.
He also alluded to the fact that ‘The book gently descends after reaching a crest via the stairway of a softer theme centering on the tourism potentials of the Federal Capital Territory. The testimonies of some labour hands who charted the path, by direct labour, for the construction works to begin, makes for an interesting read’.
What strikes the reader immediately is the fact that this is a well-researched job of an insider who has a passion for the federal capital city of Abuja.
This book is a product of several years of being a player amidst the inner workings of the FCT Administration. In the course of the book, the reader gets to see the 335-pagedocument which beams light on the FCT and showcases the inner workings of its administrative network.
Chapter One: Abuja: The Making of A Federal Capital City Page 17
The book starts by chronicling how the concept of Abuja came into being through the vision of former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon, and how his successor Late Gen. Murtala Mohammed ‘effected’ the plan through an 8- wise men committee. Subsequent events led to the broadcast by Murtala Mohammed on February 3, 1976 establishing FCT and movement of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja via Decree No.6.
Thus, the reader is told the evolution and functions of the Federal Capital Development Authority FCDA) and how the city began its physical development.
In Historical Background of Abuja Page 25, readers are availed of the history of the capital city before it became so, how the name came into being and the principal actors involved.
For example, on page 27 it is stated that ‘Another interesting historical fact is that in the Gbagyi (or Gwari) language, the word Aso means success or victory. According to tradition, the original inhabitants of the region lived at the base of the rock for centuries without being conquered. The rock was a refuge as well as a mystical source of strength. Asoro (Aso Koro) the name of one of the local areas, therefore, means people of victory’.
The power structure of the city is here clearly stated.
Then the Geography Page29, here the weather and climate of the FCT is clearly defined, its topography, vegetation, settlements, wildlife, ethnic groups, socio-cultural life, and administration are also stated.
On Page 41 Population/Ecology are dealt with in detail, while the Abuja Master Plan Philosophy is narrated on Page 44, this gives insight into planned resettlements and underlying principles of the Abuja Master Plan philosophy.
The address By President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida to Mark The Movement 0f The Seat of Government to Abuja, December 12, 1991 could be found on Pages 54-59.
Chapter 2 (page 60-79) describes the 6 Area councils and district developments, i.e. why the city was divided into phases for easy coordination of development efforts, how phases are separated by expressways. The development programme of the federal capital city FCC is broadly defined according to phases (I-IV) as well as other developments within the city. Also, selected districts like Garki, Wuse, Maitama and Asokoro, as well as Gwarinpa, Durumi are described in detail.
Chapter 3 Pages 80-90 highlights the FCT Administration (FCTA) in greater details, outling bthe various departments and mandate secretariats, the parastatals and other agencies are not left out, then the structural and function disposition of the FCT Minister.
Other matters attended to in this chapter is the reforms and creation of FCTA and resettlement institutions. This gives us insight into how the FCTA was created with effect from December 31 2004 through a Dissolution Order under the administration of Nasir El-Rufai. The current planning status of the FCC is given, as well as the progress of infrastructural development.
A comprehensive list of FCT Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, past and present (page 113).
Chapter 4 (Pages 118-269) outlines Profile, Policy thrust and Contributions of past FCT Ministers to the Development of Abuja (from 1998 to April 2019) starting with Maj.Gen. Mamman Kontagora (1998-99), Ibrahim Bunu (1999-2001), Mohammed Abba Gana (2001-2003), Mal. Nasiru El-Rufai (2003-2007), Aliyu Modibbo Umar (2007-2008), Sen. Muhammad Adamu Aliero (2008-2010), Sen. Bala A. Mohammed (2019-2015) and the current minister Mal. Muhammad Musa Bello.
The detailed achievements of each minister is provided in great details.
Chapter 5 (Pages 270-286) provides a window into Abuja as a tourist resort, whether you’re travelling by air or road, its infrastructure and its numerous potentials.
An Appendix (Pages 287- 300) provides the Federal Capital Territory Act Cap F6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, the Federal Capital Territory Act Cap F6, LFN 2004.
On Pages 301-306 is a narration: My Abuja Story: Testimonies by Two Pioneer Workers of FCDA, Mr Isaac, a well-trained construction officer who is married to 3 wives with 7 children and hails from Anene LGA of Enugu state, and Mr.Samuel Ugbige, Married to 2 wives who are both late now, with 7 children and hails from Owan West in Edo state.
References (Pages 307-310) and Name Index (Pages 311-316). Subject Index (317-318).
A pictorial of past ministers and their activities are presented at the end of this book.
This book is a historical epic and a template for historians and students alike, that needs to be read in its wholeness, there is certainly no missing of its essence as an epoch-making document that presents Dr. Jumai Ahmadu as a literary icon, making full use of a unique cultural data to boost the book’s arsenal.