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Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with an estimated population of about 140 million people, and this fact gives it a leading role in all affairs of the Continent as well as in international affairs. It’s almost central place, in respect of the areas inhabited by Black Africans, makes it a meeting point of many international routes, a fact that is enhanced further by its large population which naturally generates large scale movements of goods and passengers. Abuja, virgin land turned Nigeria’s Federal Capital and symbol of unity, wields much more in infrastructure and commercial investments than meets the eye. Created in 1976 by the Federal Military Government of the late General Murtala Mohammed via decree No. 6 of the same year; the city has unequivocally revolved as Nigeria’s second best inspirational realization after independence from colonialism.
Prior to its creation, Nigeria was administered from Lagos as its capital, which was constitutionally recognized and empowered to function as a state. This was due to the fact that the main seaport, industrial and commercial activities were all centered in Lagos. This resulted into perennial cases of traffic jams, intolerable congestion, inadequate infrastructural and social amenities as well as lack of land for further expansion. These put together rendered the city ineffective as seat of Government.
The search for a new capital for Nigeria began in earnest on 9th August, 1975, when the Federal Military Government set up the Justice Akinola Aguda panel to examine the dual role of Lagos as both Federal and State Capital and advice on the desirability or otherwise of Lagos retaining that role.
The Aguda Panel was mandated to, among other things, recommend which of the two governments, Federal or State, should move to a new location in the circumstance of finding Lagos not suitable for its dual role. Where it decided that the Federal and not the State should move, the panel was to recommend a suitable alternative site as the new Federal Capital. The panel submitted its report in December 1975 and declared Lagos incapable of shouldering the dual role of being the nation’s Capital as well as that of State in addition to being the commercial and industrial nerve-centre of the country.
It therefore recommended that the Federal Capital of Nigeria be removed from Lagos and be sited in a vast, virgin territory in the country’s heartland.
The choice of Abuja by the panel was determined by factors such as: centrality of location, easy accessibility from all parts of the country, healthy climate conditions, low population density, availability of land for future expansion, physical planning convenience and ethnic accord.
The Federal Capital Territory is located in the geographical centre of Nigeria. It has a land area of 8,000 square kilometers. It is bounded on the north by Kaduna State, the west by Niger State, the east and southeast by Nasarawa State and the southwest by Kogi State. It falls within latitudes 7o 20′ North of the Equator and longitudes 6o 45’ and 7o 39′.
The FCT’s natural endowments such as; its rolling hills, isolated highlands and other endearing features make it a delight. The savannah grassland of the North and the Middle Belt, the richness of the tropical rain forests of the south and an equable climate all combined make the FCT a soil-rich agricultural haven.
As in the tropics, the FCT experience two weather conditions annually. These are the rainy season (the equivalent of winter in the temperate region) and the dry season (the equivalent of summer in the temperate climate). The rainy season begins from April and ends in October. Within this period, there is a brief interlude of harmattan occasioned by the North East Trade Wind, with the main feature of dust haze, intensified coldness and dryness. Fortunately, the high altitudes and undulating terrain of the FCT act as moderating influence on the weather of the territory. Rainfall in the FCT reflects the territory’s location on the windward side of the Jos Plateau and the zone of rising air masses. The annual total rainfall is in the range of 1100mm to 1600mm.
The area now designated the Federal Capital Territory falls within the Savannah Zone vegetation of the West African sub-region. Patches of rain forest, however, occur in the Gwagwa plains, especially in the gullied train to the south and the rugged south-eastern parts of the territory. These areas of the FCT form one of the surviving occurrences of the mature forest vegetation in Nigeria. The dominant vegetation of the Territory is, however, classified into three savannah types. (1) The Park or Grassy Savannah: This is about 53 percent (i.e. 4,231 square km) of the total area of the FCT. Vegetation occurs annually. (2) The Savannah Woodland: This region covers 12.8 percent of 1,026 square km of the territory. It occurs mostly on the Gurara, Robo and Rubochi plains and surrounding hills. (3) The Shrub Savannah: This class of vegetation occurs extensively in rough terrain close to hills and ridges in all parts of the territory. It covers about 12.9 percent or 1,031 square km of the land area.
The Abuja Master plan covered 250 square kilometers for the envisaged Federal Capital City. Its design provided for a four-phase development with the city divided into sectors and further subdivided into districts. It was projected that each sector would accommodate between 100,000 to 250,000 people. Thus the city would have a population of 1.60 million people and a total of 3.1 million people at the end of phases one and two. The master plan land use analysis apportioned 500 hectares of land (1.9 percent of the FCC area) for government usage, 891 hectares or 3.49 percent for ancillary services and 12.486 for residential developments. It reserved 9.29 hectares for light industries expected to be set up in the city, 180 hectares for infrastructure, 561 for commercial activities that are part and parcel of city life and 8,300 hectares for green areas to add to the aesthetics of the city.
The Abuja master plan was based on a linear development pattern to stimulate growth from the city centre outwards in two directions and parallel development corridor on both sides, in form of a linear park.
Virtually every development in Abuja requires approval from the federal capital development authority (FCDA) or the local authority. The necessary permits can range from a simple building permit to a complex series of approvals, including general plan amendment, rezoning, and approval of development plan. The general plan for the local area council controls all the development. Land use is also regulated by zoning, if the zoning is inconsistent with the general plan, the general plan designation control the allowable land use. Most development approvals are also subject to Environmental Impact Assessment Decree No 86 of 1992. This degree requires planning authorities to consider and mitigate any potential environmental consequences of the proposed development. The project may be found to be exempt from EIA degree of 1992 or requires negative declaration that harm will not be significant or a full environmental impact report may be required.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was created by Decree No. 6 of February 1976 based on the recommendation of the eight-man panel. The Federal Government by virtue of Government Notice in Official Gazette No. 55 Vol. 66 of 1979 (Extra-ordinary) created the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and assigned it the following functions and responsibilities: (a) Planning and Development within the FCT, (b) Control of Development within the FCT, (c) Arrangement for the provision of social services, (d) Administration of the FCT, (e) Allocation of urban and rural lands in the FCT and (f) Relations with the FCDA. The planning responsibilities in the Abuja are under some departments in the FCDA where they are charged with the responsibilities of carrying out any activities related to planning of the FCT.
Due to the rapid population which as a result decreases in housing quality and over use of available infrastructural amenities provided the need for satellite town came as a major solution to reduce the current situation bisecting the city. According to a report in 2006 from minister’s office that the development of the city, based on the Master-Plan has been concentrated largely on the city. Thus to be able to branch out of the city and implement Regional Development plan, it became necessary to establish the Satellite Towns Agency in the FCT, that will serve as growth poles and absorption areas for urban settlers from the city.
The original Abuja Master-Plan estimated that the informal sector in the Capital City in the year 2000 will occupy approximately 43% of the labour force. The supportive population to the Capital City will be accommodated in specially designed Satellite Towns of about 100,000 to 150,000 people. The Capital city is however, designed primarily as an Administrative and Service sector. The existing Satellite Towns will have to be upgraded and provision made for new ones. Some of the satellite towns are however to serve as resettlement centres for the indigenous population that are to be relocated from areas covered by the FCC Master-Plan.
Housing development is one major area in which the FCT is in need of increased private sectors participation. The Abuja Master Plan envisaged a 51.8 percent contribution from the organized private sector to the government of Abuja. The government has done considerably well in the area of providing both office and residential houses to a large section of the inhabitants. However, these facilities remain inadequate. The population of Abuja keeps increasing thereby putting undue stress on existing housing facilities. Given the liberal Land allocation policy and the prospective large number of corporate bodies and individuals wishing to rent houses, the private sector should as a matter of prime importance avail itself of the huge market advantage by investing in real estate.
With over 32,000 housing units, the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been able to provide accommodation for many categories of Civil Servants in the Territory. The government owned building range from one-room, two-room unit block of flats to seven bedrooms detached houses with the following distribution right through the territory. To meet the housing needs in Abuja, both the private and public developers must be encouraged rather than formulating obnoxious policies. There is a very serious need to review this policy in order to avert the imminent lull currently experience in the building industry in FCT. The original concept of 3 million people in Abuja is already exceeded hence the fundamental issue is the development of prominent satellite neighbourhood within the periphery of the centre. This would distribute the flow of the people all around the entire federal capital territory. The revocation of the existing certificate of occupancy would only heat up the system and create more instability in the property market as well as undue fear in the heart of private developers.
However, the fact that so much distortions had been made on the master plan by the previous governments in the federal capital. There is every evidence that the master plan has been subjected to untold bastardization, nevertheless, we are still of the opinion there are several other ways of resolving the menace and bring order without necessarily heating up the system. The FCT need enough private developer’s confidence in the land tittles before they can be fully involved in the physical development of the city. Satellite town approach should be developed while strategic government establishments should relocate to those satellite areas. This would reduce the pressure at the centre; finally, to supplement the efforts of the government, private sector participation in real estate development is being encouraged.

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7 thoughts on “Overview of FCT, Abuja and its Planning Concept

  1. Dear Nasiru Idris,

    I really love this article. I’m a publisher of a magazine Abuja Shelter and would like to have your permission to publish this article on our next edition. The full credits will be given to you duly and we may include your phone number, email address and a brief description of you and a photograph if you so wish.

  2. I would appreciate if Nasiru can be in touch. I need to understand how he sourced his historical facts. I need some info to complete a school project. The FCT website does not have such detailed summary. They need to search for such info and populate their sites. An of course give credit to who deserves it.

    I am looking for status of the phase development. What percentage completion are they in? I thought it was a three phase project. Now I am not anymore.

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