AS the year 2022 winds down to an end, The ICIR looks at some of the significant challenges faced by residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), including heightened insecurity, poor sanitation and others.
Among the issues that confronted residents of the FCT in 2022 were the heightened security concerns resulting from criminal and terror activities within the city.
Residents of the FCT expressed an increased sense of apprehension and dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the attacks.
Speaking to The ICIR in August, a resident of the Lugbe area of the city, George Awo, said he had lost faith in the government’s ability to deal with the situation in the city.
“The FCT is being taken over by terrorists, and it is quite a sad thing to watch. It feels like the government cannot handle this anymore. It’s a shame that they could even threaten to abduct the President. How then should we, the ordinary citizens, feel?” he asked.
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In 2022, terrorists and bandits launched a series of attacks within the FCT, including a jailbreak at the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre on July 5.
More than 800 inmates escaped during the incident, including over 60 suspected terrorists remanded in the facility. The police and other security agencies, however, recaptured some of the escapees in the months that followed.
A terrorist group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), claimed responsibility for the attack, which left at least five people dead.
Three weeks after the jailbreak, gunmen killed eight Presidential Guards Brigade soldiers on patrol in the Bwari Area Council of the FCT.
The soldiers had been drafted to the area after being informed by the management of the Nigerian Law School, that terrorists had dropped a letter threatening an attack on the institution.
About 24 hours before the soldiers were killed, a viral video had shown terrorists threatening to abduct Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai.
Closure of schools…
The rising spate of insecurity also led to the closure of a government-owned school in Kwali Area Council a day after suspected terrorists attacked surrounding communities.
A memo from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) dated July 25 had warned of terror attacks in five states, including the FCT.
On July 28, a few days after the NSCDC memo surfaced, one soldier died during a gun battle between troops of the Nigerian Army and terrorists near Abuja. The terrorists had attacked a checkpoint along the Abuja-Kaduna road near Zuma rock in the neighbouring Niger state.
UK alerts of likely terror attacks…
In October, the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) issued alerts of likely terror attacks in Abuja. The US also authorised the departure of all its non-essential workers in Abuja. Many other countries issued travel advisories to their citizens against travelling to Nigeria, especially the FCT.
The UK, however, reversed its travel advisory in November but warned that risks of terror attacks remain.
Another significant challenge faced by residents of the FCT in 2022 was poor sanitation within the city.
In June, The ICIR reported that an absence of garbage bins within the FCT was worsening the waste disposal problems of residents and resulting in more refuse heaps across the city.
Addressing sanitation issues in April, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Janet Peni, told The ICIR that the Board had plans to provide more garbage bins along the roads.
Although the AEPB later announced the establishment of more mobile courts to hasten trials of environmental violators within the city, a shortage of garbage bins is still recorded within the city, while poor sanitation plagues the city.
Recently, the FCT Minister of State, Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, also expressed concern about the state of sanitation across the territory.
Fuel queues were also a significant problem that confronted FCT residents in 2022.
In February, 100 million litres of contaminated fuel were imported into the country by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and its allied firms.
Volumes of fuel were recalled from the market, which resulted in a reduction in the quantity of petrol in circulation and the first episode of scarcity within the city.
The ICIR reported that businesses were affected by the prolonged fuel scarcity in the FCT.
While motorists spent longer hours at fuel stations, pedestrians dealt with the scarcity of vehicles and increased transport costs sustained throughout the year.
A resident of Lugbe, Yinka Olujimi, spoke to The ICIR on the hike in transport fare.
“Before, I used to go to work with N150. From Lugbe to Berger was N150 before all these fuel problems started. And you know how things are. Once prices increase, they never come down. Now it is N200, sometimes N250,” she said.
Various episodes of fuel scarcity have occurred since then. In October, the flood, which affected 33 states and the FCT, grounded vehicular movement, restricting fuel supply and resulting in further scarcity that persisted.
In addition to the various challenges that confirmed residents of the FCT, many people lost homes and businesses to the numerous demolition exercises that occurred in 2022.
While demolition is common, in 2022, the FCTA reinforced its commitment to restoring the Abuja master plan, pulling down hundreds of structures throughout the year and vowing to sustain the tempo irrespective of the forthcoming general elections.
The FCTA had begun demolition of 100 buildings built on waterways at Dutse Makaranta in June following predictions of flooding within the FCT.
Park closure and alcohol ban…
There was a lot of public outcry following a directive by the FCTA ordering all recreational parks to close operations by 7.00 p.m. and banning alcohol sales within the gardens.
The FCTA Monitoring and Enforcement team had roamed the city enforcing the directive and sealing up gardens operating beyond the stipulated time.
In July, the Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the FCT Minister Ikharo Attah told The ICIR that the administration was in talks with park operators over the closure.
However, Spotlight Garden, Events and Recreation park in Wuye was demolished in September for violating the 7.00 p.m. closing time.
There were several protests held within the FCT by aggrieved residents in 2022.
In March, the National Assembly rejected five gender-inclusive bills during the constitution amendment vote.
This attracted a lot of criticism, and women across the FCT gathered at the National Assembly for days in protest.
The protest was suspended after three of the bills were recommitted for reconsideration by the legislators.
Also, residents travelling by train from Abuja to Kaduna had been intercepted by terrorists who attacked the train with explosives, abducting and killing some of the passengers.
Following the abduction, families of the abductees staged several protests at strategic locations within the FCT, barricading the Ministry of Transportation during one of the protests.
The abductees were released in batches, with the last set regaining freedom in October after over five months in captivity.
Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via email@example.com or @ije_le on Twitter.