Tears, resistance as FCT battles to restore Abuja masterplan

By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja

Abuja residents are jittery following daring attacks on Kuje correctional facility in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the Guards Brigade, the military unit protecting President Muhammadu Buhari.

Before then, a presidential convoy on its way to Katsina had been ambushed by insurgents. 

And as if the security situation in the FCT was not challenging enough, reports indicate that while many lamented the exorbitant cost of living and the rising prices of food items and transport fares occasioned by the high prices of fuel (petrol and diesel), other residents decried a dire situation where they are impoverished and small scale businesses are, in turn, becoming insolvent.

Read Also: Kuje Prison Attack: FCT to profile 480 suspects arrested in uncompleted buildings

There is widespread tension as the people appeared despondent that government could salvage the current economic and security situations prevalent in the country. 

Residents, who spoke to our correspondent, described the situation as double jeopardy, seeing how they have not only been unable to put food on their table but are also now faced by bandits, Boko-Haram terrorists and other criminals.

Education

Speaking to some Veritas University students who just returned home following the shutdown of the university for fear of terrorist attack, Sunday Vanguard gathered that they felt very much safe leaving the school environment.

While commending the university for working with intelligence, Victoria Samuel, a computer science student, said that the fear of terrorist attack in Abuja brought shivers to the university students.

“For once, I thought studying in Abuja would bring safety and ease to me but it doesn’t seem that way”, Samuel said.

“But for Boko-Haram or whoever it is that has been attacking to kill the presidential guards I saw on television, I felt very secure.

“In fact, in the hostel, we hardly slept because we felt our lives were in danger knowing how those guys had attacked schools, kidnapped students and kept them for days in the forest without food and water. I am really happy to have left school because my life is far more precious to me than anything.

“I don’t blame my school, they acted based on intelligence. If our enforcement agencies can function with intelligence then we will all be safe to some extent”.

Also speaking, a parent who doubles as a teacher, Beatrice Odeh, said: “The educational aspect of this whole thing, it’s glaring that their sole aim is to ground the system.

“Going by the name of the pioneers of these different groups ‘Boko Haram’ meaning ‘education is abomination’, we should know where they are going as this term exams couldn’t be taken in the normal way.

“Students were rushed to write eight subjects in two hours, attending only to objective questions. How?

“Their name is really ironic, the fact that they make use of products of education in their operations.

“The truth is that we don’t really know our enemies. Who is doing us harm? Who is for us? Who is against us? Now, schools are closed in the FCT and we don’t even have any idea when we will be resuming. Is that a good one?”

Economy

Describing the economic situation in Nigeria, particularly in the FCT, as “horrendous”, a lecturer in the University of Abuja, Uchenna Obi, projected that the dollar might soon exchange for one thousand naira, stating that government appears ignorant on issues concerning the economy and security.

“Look at the economic situation, we are suffering. Inflation rate is high. A dollar is now exchanging for N670. Before this government leaves office, naira may fall to the point of exchanging for 1, 000 to the dollar”.

An Abuja nurse, Esami Odeh, also speaking on the economy, lamented that the situation in the country is taking a toll on citizens, adding that government must see the situation as an emergency.

“The economic situation in the FCT is having a serious effect on us. The challenges range from transportation to the ridiculous hike in the prices of day to day items in the market”, she said.

A mother of three, Alice Yakubu, on her part, said life has become difficult since the demise of her husband and that it has recently become hellish providing food for her family.

Security

A trader at Utako Market, Mr Emmanuel Dike, who appeared uninterested in the questions from our correspondent on the state of the FCT, after much persuasion, accused government of being complacent on the plight of Nigerians.

He asked how the FCT could be prone to attacks by vicious men whom the Nigerian Army was supposed to be all-time ready to engage.

Also reacting, a youth corps member, Tufayl Olamilekan Adelakun, stated that the attacks on the nation’s capital signaled that the country was no longer safe.

He said: “While reading the news, the first picture that came to mind was how the Taliban of Afghanistan captured Kabul before laying siege to the seat of power.

“As it stands, the FCT, which should stand as an opportunity hub for the young minds has lost its spot and in such circumstances everyone should be more concerned with their safety before anything”.

Unfortunate situation

Meanwhile activist Deji Adeyanju described the security situation in the FCT as unfortunate, stating that the President and Service Chiefs appear unperturbed about the increasing challenges.

His words: “This government has abandoned its responsibility as provided for in Section 14 of our Constitution which says security is the primary responsibility of government and that securing citizens’ lives and their properties shall always top the agenda.

“This government has abandoned its responsibility and they are no longer living up to the responsibility that they have sworn to protect.

“It’s also important to note that the President and his Security Chiefs…it appears to me that the statements of General Danjuma about collusion are apt because you just can’t explain any of the things that are currently in the country.

“This is a situation where government looks or appears to be completely helpless.

“You know, it suggests to me that there’s collusion between government and those terrorising the country and, if you look at the Kuje incident, I am convinced it was an insider’s job.

“So, it appears to me that the President and his Service Chiefs are not worried about the situation especially in Abuja and across the country.

‘There were stories about the Deputy Speaker (of the House of Representatives) saying there were 44 reports from the DSS to government about imminent Abuja attack and that nothing was done.

“There is a battalion just by the prison, 187 Battalion, and the terrorists came, not challenged, and they operated for three hours and left, nobody was arrested, and there was no resistance, this suggests to me that government is the one behind insecurity in the country.”

According to him, the fate of Abuja residents in the face of insecurity is left for God to decide.

CSOs react

Some Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, also reacted against the backdrop of the insecurity in the FCT and the economic challenges.

They stressed that the APC government has in several ways failed not just Nigerians but Africans as a whole, adding that the current surge of insecurity in the FCT, if not aggressively addressed, could cripple the country.

In a telephone interview, the Director General, Coalition of Nigerian Youths on Security and Safety Affairs, CONYSSA, Ambassador Ade Mario Emmanuel, said, “The truth remains that the Federal Capital Territory remains the heart beat of any country and if bandits can begin to kill, kidnap, attack communities, attack citizens, attack estates there and none has been arrested up till now, this is a serious call for alarm.

“I say without any fear that the country our heroes past fought for with the last drop of their blood is not the country we have today.

“Our current leaders have woefully failed us and that is why we found ourselves where we are. To the best of my knowledge, experts should be the ones at the helm of affairs, people who have holistic solutions to the problems.
“The security architecture of our country in Nigeria has failed us and I want to say that they should resign and let those who have the capacity to rescue Nigeria from the mess come on board.”

He further noted that blame should not be heaped on Buhari, saying: “President Muhammadu Buhari is not the problem because he is not the Chief of the Defence Staff, he is not the IG.

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