Such is life as designed by the fantastic ministers and administrators in Abuja; a city planned without any consideration for human beings at all. Perhaps, it is the lofty ambitions of the people who planned the town and those to whom its management has been entrusted; that there shall be no poor man living in Abuja, and that the rich will never have cause to take a stroll. I recall the incident involving the present minister of foreign affairs some years back, when, in spite of the security entourage he had, some crazy ‘danfo’ driver promptly cleared him and his bicycle into the gutter around Mabushi.
For all the sound and fury that el-Rufai (now in exile), made about some so-called Master plan, Abuja is merely an epitome of what Nigeria is known for around the world; much money, massive potentials, little achievement, little planning and rigour, obscene display of wealth and absolute disregard for life. What kind of master plan is it that has people dashing like rabbits across express roads where people drive recklessly.
Nothing indicates just how primitive we still are as people, in spite of the enormous amount of wealth at our disposal, and the snazziness of our model city, than this phenomenon of total disregard for human life by the state. It doesn’t matter if that life belongs to the poorest people in our midst. Right on the day my little write-up on road safety was published, 26 people lost their lives somewhere in the Southwest. A few days ago, it was the turn of 70 people in a single incidence Edo State. This is exasperating.
Another factor that gives a lie to all this talk of master plan is the now escalating problem with parking space and traffic management in Abuja (which may soon lose its money-fed high ground to the renaissance in Lagos). Cars are now allowed to park and shut off one lane on major roads. This is a result of planlessness; an afterthought at best. Whatever happened to having designated multi-level car parks and other such alternative? And if you go to where massive offices are located, the way and manner cars squeeze to park anywhere is appalling and unsightly. This is evident around where the Corporate Affairs Commission is now sited, and even around the FCT ministry itself among others.
The problem on ground goes beyond building 10-lane express road, with no bridges serving communities along them. Further, the big men who run the town should be magnanimous enough to properly open up many suburbs and de-escalate the growing problem. This must be done urgently so that the likes of Abbas and Mr Chinweike may live. They may be poor today but they should be of immense value to this country. We waste our best brains daily in senseless manners. As things stand, this city will be chaotic in a few years to come.
Note: the Abbas and Chinweike incidents actually did occur among so many others, but the names have been changed.