Kugbo is one of the communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja that has long been neglected by relevant authorities writes DANIEL TYOKUA.
Kugbo is a community in Karu ward of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). The community is along the ever-busy Keffi-Abuja highway, and is sandwiched between the popular AYA and Nyanya. It houses one of the largest furniture markets in West Africa. But despite its closeness to the nation’s capital, it lacks almost all the social amenities that could make life enjoyable.
For real, there exists in FCT, settlements not recognised in the territory’s master plan, but Kugbo is an approved government settlement, albeit legal and illegal structures abound in the community.
The community is divided into Kugbo I and ll, with large number of inhabitants mostly traders, artisans, farmers and a few civil servants.
Despite the relatively huge population in the area, residents complain of lack of social infrastructure such as tarred road, healthcare facility, secondary school, pedestrian bridge, and pipe-borne water.
The AUTHORITY gathered that the community chiefs, Philip Jezhi; chief of Kugbo I and Ayuba Knadna Kninya; chief of Kugbo ll, have written several letters to AMAC, the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), FCT Minister and other constituted authorities, complaining about the lack of social amenities in the community, to no effect.
Three of the letters dated 3rd April, 2017, 10th May, 2017 and 1st August, 2017, were addressed to the Executive Chairman of AMAC, FCT Minister and the House of Representatives member, representing AMAC/Bwari federal constituency,
In the letters, the community through the two chiefs, requested among other things, for the construction of a pedestrian bridge, hospital, secondary school, transformer, borehole, town hall, police outpost and youth skill acquisition center in the community.
In the absence of a hospital or health facility, residents of Kugbo patronize chemist store owners whose drugs are more often than not ineffective in treating even common ailments.
Those residents who can afford it, travel several miles to get to ECWA clinic in Karu, Nyanya General Hospital or Asokoro clinic, to get medical attention.
It was gathered that many patients whose cases are critical usually die on their way to the hospital.
“Since I came to live in Kugbo, I have witnessed many people who had emergency cases die on their way to the hospital outside this community,” said Mrs. Elizabeth Emeka, a retired nurse, and owner of a provision store in Kugbo.
According to her, “many pregnant women deliver at home here when the labour starts suddenly, and they don’t want to risk going to the clinic miles away.
“Many villagers go to Karu or Nyanya for their health care or die at home, like Mr. Stephen Wetben, an artisan from Kaduna State, who died on 7th May, 2017.
“He was purging in the night and died on the way to Karu hospital, because there was no healthcare center nearby.”
Another member of the community, Musa Sa’eed, said that lack of a health centre made his wife lose a baby in the womb sometime in 2015.
“My wife was in labour that faithful night and we managed to manoeuvre the bad road to get to the express road, and even then, we were held up for several minutes in a traffic tie-up at Karu, and before we could get to Nyanya General hospital, the baby had died in her womb,” lamented Sa’eed.
Besides the absence of a health centre, the only government school that was established to take care of the education needs of residents of the community – the Local Education Authority (LEA) primary school in Kugbo 1 – is in a state of disrepair.
“Government does not care about the school, Parents say that education is free and refuse to pay N1, 000 levy per term, but we need the money to buy some materials for the effective running of the school, instead of relying totally on government.
“Since we resumed school in September last year, it was only on 21st May this year that the school got seven cartons of chalk,” said one teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Though the community boasts of two private secondary schools – EmmaBena and Wisdom, yet they cannot cater for the educational needs of the inhabitants. As a result, many students travel miles to attend Army Day Secondary School, at Abacha Barracks or schools in Nyanya, Asokoro and Karu.
“Some of these students face the risk of being knocked down by cars on the ever busy Abuja-Keffi expressway, because there is no pedestrian bridge on that road,” said Shehu Adamu, an indigene of the community.
Officials of a local security outfit, who pleaded that their names should not be in print, complained of lack of security in the area, a development that has made it possible for armed robbers to have a field day.
“We have been experiencing armed robbery attacks here. They rob, rape, injure residents here. .One of the recent armed robbery attacks resulted in the death of a former naval officer, Nicholas Hizim,” alleged a member of the security outfit.
He said that members of the local vigilante in the community are ill-equipped to face the heavy fire power from the armed robbers each time they ply their trade in the area.
“We don’t have bullets for our dane guns as N200 monthly security levy is too much for our people to pay. There are many roads, yet no checkpoint
“There is a road leading to Asokoro, Kuruduma, Karu, Poroko and other places through which armed robbers access Kugbo. We went to the police station in Karu and met the DPO for protection, but he told us to bring N250,000 to repair the police patrol van,” said a vigilante.
The residents said that in an effort at combating the incessant robbery attacks in the community, a vigilante team was constituted, but complained of lack of funds to support the outfit.
It was gathered that most houses in the community are bereft of toilets and bathrooms, forcing many people to go to the bush to defecate and have their bath.
According to a resident of the community, “some people have adopted the “parcel and throw” method, which means defecating inside a leather and disposing same in the hundreds of dump sites that litter around the community.
Mrs. Regina Okonkwo, who earns a living by roasting corn, is one of those residents of Kugbo who live in shanties.
She told The AUTHORITY that, she moved to Kugbo with her family in 2002, following the demolition of her building by the then FCT Minister Malam El Rufai Nasir, the current governor of Kaduna State.
“I am living in a batcher because of what I have been passing through. Our house was demolished.
“Last month, some people came from another settlement to join us here, after being dislodged by soldiers. They are bringing bad reputation to us here, because they act as prostitutes. Smoking of marijuana is rife now, which was not so before, she complained.
However, several homeless people have taken over uncompleted buildings in the community. The occupants fix diagonal windows and doors that will keep their properties safe from their next door neighbours, who are strangers. They live in constant fear of the owner completing the building and asking them to vacate.
Despite the sorry state-of-affairs at Kugbo community, the FCTA, and AMAC, seem not disposed to address the poor living conditions of residents as well as the insecurity in the area.
Several efforts at getting responses from officials of FCTA and AMAC failed as text messages and calls put across to their cell phones were not replied or answered