This is an analysis of how several Nigerians, desperately seeking to live in the Federal Capital territory, decide to occupy uncompleted buildings.
Many Nigerians appear determined to live in Abuja irrespective of the cost of doing that. They now take refuge in uncompleted buildings and makeshift accommodations.
The situation may not be new but it is taking a worrisome dimension.
“Every uncompleted building is occupied by some young people. Sometimes, you see couples and their children in such unhealthy conditions,” said Ms Esther Egede who resides at Apo.
It is not far-fetched why many want to live in Abuja. It is the seat of power, thus making it a busy city with lots of opportunities .
Notable districts in Abuja are Maitama, Wuse, Asokoro, Garki, Utako, Central Area and Jabi districts. They serve as home to elite who are mostly government officials, diplomats and captains of industries
Because of high cost of rent
Late 2015 till 2016, Nigerian economy went into recession. Businesses were badly affected. Some closed down outrightly, throwing its workers into the labour market. Property business was said to be the worst hit, as many people could not afford payment. Landlords were forced to slash rents to retain their tenants. But even at that, many tenants could not afford the rent. So, they were left with the option of vacating the building.
An estate developer confirmed to Daily Sun that up till now, many residential and commercial spaces at several gigantic plazas and residential properties across FCT are left unoccupied because of high rent and harsh climate for businesses, especially for start-ups.
The development could be responsible for the upsurge of uninhabitable settlements and shanties across different locations in Abuja. Many Abuja residents are compelled to seek alternative, and perhaps, cheaper accommodation for residence and commercial purposes.
From Asokoro to Ministers’ hill in Maitama; Wuse to Garki, all are surrounded by shanties and demeaning human settlements being occupied by low and average income earners, with attendant risks. These are people who supply Abuja city with different menial services.
These locations have been confirmed by the police and other security agencies as melting pot for crimes and other social vices such as prostitution, manslaughter, burglary, pick pocket and other crimes, which could be associated with poverty and hunger.
Sylvester Ade lives in one of the uncompleted building in Apo resettlement town. He guards one of the houses in the area. He confessed that he has been living from one uncompleted building to another. Not because he loves it but he has no choice and could not afford the high cost of accommodation in the area.
“I have been living like this for a long time. I have lived in an uncompleted building in Gwarimpa for years before moving to Apo when I got this security job. I had disregarded the risks because I had no choice, and besides, it has been helpful to me because of my current financial status.”
He said armed robbers on the run, sometimes use the building as hideout thereby putting his life in danger of arrest. This was aside the challenge of daily protecting himself against reptiles.
He added: “It has not been easy, some days ago, some men snatched a woman’s bag and ran away. When the woman raised the alarm, passers-by ran after them and they immediately jumped into the building and escaped through the back door. Before I could ask questions, the people begun to accuse me of being accomplice. They even beat me up before people could come to my aid.”
Amos Daniel is an okada rider from Plateau state. He has lived under such condition for over a year. He confessed that the condition he lived was not favorable to his health.
He disclosed that they were more than nine living in the uncompleted building and they all paid for the space.
“When I came to Abuja last year, I realized that the cost of accommodation was unaffordable. A friend then asked me to stay in a recommended uncompleted building for sometime but that I had to pay him a little token, and I did. I paid N10, 000 to the caretaker to secure the space, and since then I have been living there pending when I am able raise money to get a befitting accommodation.”
Asked the problems he encounters living in an uncompleted building, he said: “Cold is one of the major problems; and it worsens when it rains, because the windows are open and there are no doors to protect us against bad weather.”
Similarly, Margret Godwin is a single mother of two (aged five and eight.) She and her two daughters found a place of abode in an uncompleted building in Jabi, Abuja. But she confessed that they are regularly under fear of being raped.
“I have been living under this condition with my daughters for six months now. The first two months was like living in hell. I barely escaped rape attack the second month and since then it has been on and off robbery attack. My biggest fear is the safety of my daughters.”
Alhassan Nazif is another resident of Abuja but he lives in Lugbe precisely. He also confessed that he has been a tenant of an uncompleted for the past two years.
He said: “I have been staying here with four of my friends for the past two years. We take shelter here at night and in the morning everyone goes their way in search of menial jobs to put food on the table. It is not comfortable but that is what we could afford now,” he declared