The legacy of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, one of the most cerebral officers of the Nigerian army privileged to rule the country through the barrel of the gun, is the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

Abuja was the brain child of the Akinola Aguda headed commission that proposed the need to move the capital of the country, and conceived a model modern city for Africa. This glory and pride of the continent the city was meant to serve, is being daily  disrupted. Once most beautiful master piece is today a beehive of criminal activities. Babangida is however hardly remembered as the builder of the most significant modern city infrastructure; an addition to the African continent. He is of course a victim of a gullible society with unbalance perspectives to leadership appraisal. The good deeds of IBB as he is fondly called is drowned in the oceans of errors, particularly his annulment of the June 12 1993, presidential election, believed to have been won by Chief MKO Abiola. That same event, with the help of of the political elite class, has provided President Muhammadu Buhari a social capital deposit to which he made no contributions for the loan of political relevance he is drawing from. Posterity remains the approving authority of such social venture.

I arrived Abuja on the invitation of Congress of Northern Nigerian Christians, to help with their presentation of their plight to the Religious Freedom Desk of the American Embassy. I was also expected to help develop a template for their Inter- Ethic Peace Conference Abuja 2019, designed to address conflict resolution of the crisis presently alleged to be sponsored by the Fulani between the Jukums and the Tivs along the borders of Benue and Taraba State. The said peace conference is titled: “Building The Bridge of Peaceful Coexistence”. Which is also designed to be an information gathering for Nigerian representatives to the International Inter Ministerial Conference holding in Washington DC,  United States of America, from, between 15th and 19th July 2019, under the theme: Unravelling The Challenges of Trans-Regional Terrorism, Ethnic Cross-country Migration and Socio-political Marginalization of Indigenous Nigerians”.

I must state that most disappointing of all our engagement process was the frustration to get the States concerned to buy into it. The people were ready for peace, but the government seems not. We had engagement with the people and ninety one (91), other ethnic nationalities signed up to join the peace conference. I can’t but believe that both the Federal and States Governments are making some sort of profit from those crisis ridden communities for which peaceful initiatives are shunned. The attitude of Benue State Government who was reached through the Chief of Staff to the Governor is a story for another day, not less disappointing is the lack of access to the Taraba State Governor and the First Lady, a family chosen to be showcased as our model to drive the need for peace through the # tag campaign: #onefamily #nomorekilling, designed by Masterbuilder Communications. The Governor being a Jukum and the First Lady a Tiv, was missing in action when over ninety ethnic nationalities gathered to chart the path to peace today, Thursday, 11th July, 2019 at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.

The National President of Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians is Professor Prof. Adamu Baikie. I was received by the host of the, FCT Chairman of Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians, Engr. Daniel Kadzai, who led me and others in a courtesy visit, to undividuals, organizations and communities for the peace building process.

Memorable among several visits made were the one to Bishop David Abioye who unexpectedly broke protocols for the sake of peace, by reaching out to major stakeholders in the peace process right there and then in his office, a yearning heart I saw in the Bishop at Goshen.

Voicing through the flesh was a spirit in dare need of help for peace for his people at Kente community of Taraba State, has an APC chieftain, is Excellency David Sambo Kente, who ran for the office of Governor of Taraba State, broke down in tears and left none on the visit without wet handkerchiefs. Chief Kente an astute follower of President Muhammadu Buhari and a loyal party man, and Federal Commissioner, Representing the North East, at the North-East Development Commission, he refused to play politics with the security of his Kente people and Taraba State in general. The magnitude of Fulani herdsmen attacks of his farming community is so gory to be shared within this piece, the message was very clear from the interjection of the phrases, “we are under siege”, “Nigeria is under siege”. “My people are cut off from their only known means of livelihood: farming. Foreign Fulani machineries have infiltrated our once indigenous peace loving Fulani nieghbours with whom we have lived peacefully, his story is better left for another day.

The mission to Abuja was sailing smooth until the unfortunate encounter with the Fulani miscreants from one of the many Ruga Reserved “Forest” of the Federal Capital Territory. As l was being driven by my host Engr. Daniel Kadzai from a meeting in Area 11, to another at CITEC, approaching the corner of the bridge by Ministry of Finance, we needed to slow down, when the unexpected happened. Fulani miscreants emerged from the adjacent expanse of land meant to be a garden for the beautification of the city but left unattended and now a hide out at night for criminal of all sorts and surrounded us. I was left with no choice than to cooperate with them, my phone and other valuables were carted away.

The loss of my phone was not as traumatic as the experiences that followed. Tuesday 9th July 2019, will go down as my day of National orientation into the violent world of the Shite and Police clash in Nigeria. We were at the National Secretariat Police Station to report the loss of my phone, in no time an army was formed around peace loving Nigerians, including yours truly caught in the fracas between them and law enforcement officials. The losses of life can’t be ascertained, as l was forced to run for cover, but bodies were sighted while running, economic loss to ordinary citizens who came to either work or transact business in the areas whose cars were vandalised is a terror to behold. The letting of their aggression will not be over until they touched on the National Assembly,  where the Representatives are calling on the Executives to release El-Zarzaky, to forestall a future repeat of traumatic experience everyone around was not spared from.

When eventually we got into the police station, which I left with the impression of the most friendly engagement with the police in Nigeria, armed with the police report, I was prepared for what tomorrow will be for; the retrieving of my sims.

I got to MTN office to be told what was needed was not police report but an affidavit sworn to at the High  Court, another failure of lack of integration of data the public are left to bear. I arrived at the High Court, confronted by a tout who requested #3000, to fast track the process and have my affidavit in minutes or pay the officials #700 and wait the whole day, I opted for due process and invested my time waiting to write this piece that you are reading. The bureaucratic process of obtaining affidavit is promoting corruption and should be reviewed to ease the burden of the public. My waiting lasted 3 hours only. Aminu, a young man who typed the affidavit gave me a useful information, “sir, seeing that 2 SIM card are involved, go to AIRTEL first, because MTN will collect this original from you”, that counsel saved me the pains of repeating the process at the High Court.

Abuja has become the inheritance of the northern Oligarchy, from among whom the Minister of FCT  must be chosen, most of whom had proven to be round pegs in square holes, with possibly the exception of Nasir El-Rufai who restored the city largely back to its original masterplan at a very huge cost to his public perception. Unfortunately the city to which he exerted so much zeal has fallen back to its jungle state of pre El-Rufai era as FCT Minister.

Abuja must take a clue from Lagos, by forming an agency that will manage all is gardens and make them visitors friendly and economically viable.

In my own opinion Abuja stands a prospective turn around under some of the hands that has governed Lagos. I therefore look forward to a former Governor of Lagos becoming the minister of Federal Capital Territory under whom am sure the splendour of Abuja will be restored and the Ruga bushes of FCT becoming beautiful gardens.

Dr. Bolaji O. Akinyemi.


Project Victory Call Initiative.