Until recently, night life in Abuja had deteriorated; a situation that caused many to wonder if there was still leadership in place. This was not helped by the seemingly blackout that overwhelmed the city. However, the new initiative, where generating sets are being deployed to strategic areas of the capital city has changed the narrative. OMONU YAX-NELSON dissects the issues involved.
The beauty of every city, especially, capital cities and its attraction to foreign investors and tourists is largely dependent on its night life serenity. This explains why nations spend fortune to beautify their capital and other important cities within the country.
The benefits of a befitting capital city are enormous to the socio-economic well-being of any nation. That is why nations like Dubai, irrespective of its size and population, today, remains a tourist’s destination. The United States continued its search from New York to Philadelphia, until it finally landed in Washington DC. Cities like Paris and some Brazilian cities are credible examples of beautiful capital cities.
For Nigeria, Abuja, its capital city, one of the fastest growing, set out to swell the list of nation’s capital of splendor and fun. Among many reasons for the movement of the Nigeria’s capital from Lagos to Abuja, was to build one of modern taste. However, this lofty dream began to nose-dive, with night life in the city becoming a nightmare for both visitors and residence.
Instead of a well lightened city that is best for fun, business and other activities, Abuja became a den of urchins who molest and dispossess innocent inhabitants of their valuables, under the cover of dark streets and walk ways. In past, many things were done by the government to salvage the situation, especially in the face of epileptic public power supply to the city.
But nothing seemed to have worked.
Analysts have insisted that the activities of vandals and machination of dubious contractors jinxed the night life of Abuja city. They explained that the vandals have dual purposes of ensuring that the city remains in darkness, so that their nefarious activities can continue to strive. Another explanation has it that, the vandalized solar panels are sold to dealers, who, in turn, recycle them.
A credible sources within the Federal Capital Authority told LEADERSHIP that, the solar panel, installed to serve as alternative to public power supply, was done out of ignorance because, the technology was still relatively new then. The sources explained that, apart from vandals, the initiative did not achieve the desired results due to myriad of factors, among which the sources said, was inferior technology.
In view of the foregoing and the criticisms it elicited, the leadership of the territory, under Alhaji Muhammed Musa Bello, LEADERSHIP learnt, berthed an initiative that analysts believe will be the best palliative to the challenge of perpetual darkness in Abuja streets, occasioned by the shortage of public power supply and the activities of vandals, who plunder public infrastructure meant to power street lights.
In the last months, a visit to opposite Wuse Market bus stop, by Access bank fence, will buttress this new initiative, aimed at lighting up Abuja city. Standing in a well-fortified fence and barbed wire is a giant MIKANO generating set and a reserve tank for constant inflow of diesel to power the set.
Mallam Abba Agyreh and Lawal Abba, both of who claimed to be working for the FCDA as guards men to protect the facilities, told LEADERSHIP that, their mandate is to protect the facilities from vandals and, also switch on the generating set, once its 6:30 pm in the evening and switch it off at about 6:00am.
Asked, if their mandate also includes protecting the street lights, the Borno born ‘maigadi’, who spoke through an interpreter, said, as much as possible, both of them are meant to watch over the facilities 24 hours daily, to secure the street lights. Mallam Agrey claimed, he knew nothing about the fuelling of the generating set, saying, they are suppliers who comes from government on regular basis to dump fuel in the tank.
A reliable sources at the capital city management, who pleaded anonymity, told LEADERSHIP that, the city is divided into zones and that; contractors are mandated to handle the maintenance of the street lights. The new initiative, the same sources explained was the brain child of the current minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mall Muhammed Musa Bello. The sources said, the minister is very passionate about the project ‘lightening up Abuja streets’ that he is directly involved in ensuring the project is not stagnated.
The sources claimed that the initiative was in response to the worsening power supply situation in the territory. He insisted that the FCDA was right to have taken that bold step because; it is its responsibility to power the streets of Abuja, so as to secure lives and properties of residence.
The sources explained that, the project is still at its pilot phase and, so far, five generating sets have been located in strategic locations within the city. One is located by Access bank, opposite Wuse Market bus stop as earlier indicated. Further investigation by LEADERSHIP, revealed that, another set is located at the Zone 4 bus stop.
A further probe showed that another set is located at the popular mosque junction, Herbert Macaulay way, Central Business District Abuja. The fourth set is located at opposite Defence College. The sources explained that the one opposite the War College is yet to be completed and connected because of the major road work that is ongoing in the area. He said, the moment the road work is completed, the authority will find appropriate place to locate the generating set.
The 5th in that order is located at the zone 6 junction, before Sky memorial. All the five has been powered, except the one located opposite Defence College that is awaiting the completion of the road work.
The sources also confirmed that plans are in top gear to extend the project to other parts of the city. On why the authority allowed things to get so bad before the latest action, the sources said, when the current minister was appointed, he inherited contractors who were not performing. So, he needed time to review the past contracts and engaged new ones, who will deliver to the expectation of the people.
The sources mentioned Maitama District as one of the areas that the renewed vigor is beginning to have positive effects. “If you visit Maitama now, it is a different thing entirely. In fact, almost all the street lights in that area have been repaired. If you don’t believe me, visit most parts of Maitama in the night and see,” The street through farmers’ market bears an eloquent testimony to the reality and efficacy of the new initiatives. We are fixing the vandalized facilities. IBB Boulevard street lights are working perfectly. The major challenge we have now, is that, most mini transformers meant to power the street lights have been vandalized. You will see a transformer that looks okay, by the time you open it, it’s empty, because thieves have done their worst. The plan is to have guards’ men on major streets, to guide against vandalisation of street light. No nation can afford to toy with the beauty of its cities, especially, capital city that is the first point of contact for foreign investors and tourists alike.” We have never had it so good, the sources insisted.
An Electrical Engineer, Friday Adah Shado, based in Jos, but on holidays in Abuja, told LEADERSHIP Friday in an interview that, this new initiative is the best solution to the perennial challenge of boring night life in Abuja. He contended that, until this latest move, Nigeria’s capital city was an embarrassment to its inhabitants.
He wondered why things went this bad before it received attention. Shado sounded a note of caution from a professional point of view, saying, “Hatching new initiative is one thing but sustainability remains a challenge to every development initiative in Nigeria.
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Author: Kreazetofa Odey