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The development of Senate President, Speaker’s residences on green area

In our last week episode, we applauded the action of the Senate Committee on the FCT for its condemnation of change of the use of…

In our last week episode, we applauded the action of the Senate Committee on the FCT for its condemnation of change of the use of the Maitama Hill from the original proposal of Green Area in the Abuja Master Plan to residential and commercial uses. The Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Dino Melaye described the change of use as absurd, wicked, treacherous and not acceptable. They have ordered stop work and the restoration of the master plan, with the removal of all structures therein.
We also read the response of the former FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed in defense of his action. In many of our previous episodes, we have copiously written on almost all the subjects the minister spoke about, specifically, the green city concept that is expected to guide the development of Abuja. But, with the exception of his Land Swap initiative, he never responded to any, when he was waxing in power.
Against the background of the Senate Committee’s action, which we applauded last week, we now call on them to quickly return home, because very close to the main entrance of the National Assembly a more serious violation is now going on. It is the construction of residences of the Presiding Officers of the National Assembly, within the Three-Arms Zone and in an area earmarked as green in the Abuja Master Plan.
There used to be official residences for these principal officers like the Speaker and the Senate President at an assigned area. But during the sale of the Federal Government properties, these principal officers’ houses were sold to their occupants whose tenure has expired. We cautioned on the fact that, if the government must sell its houses, there should be some that be exempted, at least for security reasons, because the future leadership would definitely need these residences. These should include the official quarters of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, who are respectively, our Number Three and Number Four citizens. Also in the this category are those of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Ministerial Quarters and those of the Federal Permanent Secretaries.
To sell the official residences of the Number Three and Number Four citizens of this country is a very high level of irresponsibility. It was the skewed implementation of that policy that necessitated the prevailing need for new official residences for them, and the government resorting to groping for land, to the extent of violating the development requirements of this highly revered zone.
According to the original plan of the city, the Three Arms Zone consists of the Supreme Court to the right, the Presidential Complex to the left and the National Assembly at the center. Each building sits on a large identifiable piece of land, while the remaining land area behind them is used as security buffer zone using natural landscaping. The International Planning Associates (IPA) that produced the Abuja Master Plan stressed that the adjacent river valley with its natural landscapes is to be preserved in its natural state as much as possible.
In our earlier episode entitled Abuja Garden City on the Brink I and II dated 20th and 27th February 2013 respectively, we made mention of the fact that, “Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts (parks), containing proportionate areas of residences, industry and agriculture. The role of parks and green open spaces in urban areas is often underestimated, while the potential of these areas to improve both the quality of life of city dwellers and urban sustainability is not always being fully realized.”
The extent of violations on the zoning regulations, which includes areas designated as green and undevelopable in the land use plan of our Federal Capital City is too much and unimaginable. Areas are reserved as green not only when they are undevelopable, the fact is many green areas could be physically developed. However, the aim and terms of reference for the actualization of the intended project determines required land use plan and the regulations to guide its implementation.
We again, recalled two of our earlier editions, sometimes in May 2014 entitled, “The Desecration of the Three Arms Zone” and “The Three-Arms Zone Plan Review – How Credible”. We made a statement that, “If such a zone which should be highly protected as mentioned in the Kenzo-Tange Central Area Urban Design document could be so violated, the wider implication is that there is nowhere in the whole of the city that shall be safe.”
Just as the Senate Committee ordered for the restoration to the original plan in the case of the Maitama Hill, they must protect the integrity of their institution by issuing a similar order for the Three-Arms Zone.
Meanwhile, an executive order should be issued or a new law be made for retrieval of the original official residences from the present occupants, whose tenure has expired, while government refunds the miserable amount of money they used in legalizing the misappropriation of our national assets and monuments.
We have earlier mentioned that, “We foresee a situation of a more seriously minded future administration reversing all these type of impunity.” We hope we have arrived at that time now.

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