Lokogoma District in Abuja is a quiet and serene environment with all its attendant beauty and flourishing businesses. An upcoming residential area near APO District and the popular mechanic village, it’s the same as the settlements of Gudu, Gwarinpa or Jabi. Lokogoma is playing host to almost over 50 different estates with an approximate land area of about 60 hectares. Driving to Lokogoma from the Abuja city centre takes about 30 minutes or so.
On Monday July 1st, 2019 myself and some crew members set out to visit the area not only to see things for ourselves but also to capture and gather relevant information as regards the decision by the FCT to demolish some illegal structures that have constituted a hindrance to the government’s determined effort to end the menace of flood bedeviling the residents.
No wonder, media attention has shifted to Lokogoma. No doubt, the demolition exercise which is part of an effort by the FCDA to enforce physical planning laws is intended to right the wrongs.
Prior to the demolition exercise, the Permanent Secretary of the FCT, Sir Chinyeka Obaa, had paid an assessment visit to Lokogoma on Wednesday June 26th, 2019 during which he announced the decision by the FCT administration to demolish all illegal structures. The Permanent Secretary took advantage of his visit to issue a 2-week ultimatum to the owners of such buildings against the backdrop of the yearly occurrence of this disaster caused by human factor and because it will be unfair to allow the innocent and the larger extension of the settlements to suffer endlessly.
Our findings on the whole issue of Lokogoma revealed series of salient points that needed to be X-rayed holistically for the purpose of public enlightenment and for the records.
Firstly, that the real owners of the buildings who obviously are private estate developers were given allocations with strict instructions on where to erect their structures, but they left the original portions allocated to them and built on waterways and on road corridors. A development which obstructed free flow of water. And as we all know, if forcefully blocked and diverted, water would certainly find its way. This indeed explains why the two rivers of Kabusa and Wumba located around the environs of Lokogoma created an alternative and while converging on a confluence, forced their way into a single waterway, thus over flooding their banks.
Secondly, that floods everywhere are known to be consuming human lives as well as destructing properties worth billions of naira. In Lokogoma, we have video clips and have read several narrations on how floods destroyed valuable items, forcing families to flee. Farms and gardens were washed away just as shops were destroyed. And if the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and properties, are the values of these structures supposed to override that of human beings?
Thirdly, some residents of Lokogoma when interviewed by a team of our cameramen openly admitted that most of the affected buildings were bought from the same private developers of the mass housing scheme that violated standards of physical planning under the FCT. Most disturbing too, there are enough evidence to believe that some corrupt and greedy persons colluded with some private developers and engaged in shady deals, thereby leaving unsuspecting buyers at the receiving end. In situations such as these, how can anyone expect the FCDA to look the other way?
Furthermore, prior to the issuance of this demolition notice, the FCT administration set up a Ministerial Committee to look into all issues surrounding Lokogoma and all facts pointed to the utter carelessness and callousness of some estate developers. Please note also that the FCT Director of Development Control, Mukhtar Galadima had once observed that “the whole waterways in Lokogoma have been occupied with buildings, retaining walls and undersized culverts, thereby causing untold hardships to other residents in the area”. Also, as rightly explained by the FCDA Director of Engineering, Engr Shehu Hadi Ahmad, “Lokogoma and its entire mass housing estates were cut off from the Ring Road” and went on to state that “Lokogoma must be accessed in and out. At least, above any personal interest, the larger neighborhood in Lokogoma must be made safer. And if Lokogoma should remain inaccessible, how would the authorities or other philanthropic organizations be able to channel assistance to victims of flood or any other natural disaster?”
Finally, the demolition which has come now in the middle of the rainy season is timely if anticipation of much more heavier downpours in the nearest future is anything to go by. Suffice to say that, although the FCT administration is desirous of discharging its statutory mandate, it appears the plight of the residents of Lokogoma does not bother the estate developers. In a nutshell, the FCDA authorities are left with only one option and that is to do anything that will save lives and buildings.
Yidikawu is the MD/CEO Real Pindigs Multimedia