ABUJA LAND AVAILABILITY CHALLENGES AND MISMANAGEMENT: ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Abuja the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria has tremendous importance in the country’s life and development. It is a hotbed for political fermentation, such that generates centripetal attraction from all corners of the country, perhaps nowhere has the need for judicious use and preservation of exhaustive land resources become imperative in Nigeria today than the Federal Capital City. From the outcome of the panel set up by the Federal Government led by Justice T.A Aguda to relocate the Federal Capital Territory from Lagos to Abuja, an 8,000km2 land was carved out of the central region of the country to serve as the Federal Capital Territory for the Nation. There was a misconception that the original inhabitants’ population to be resettled was only between 25,000 and 50,000. However, a later survey in 1984 revealed that their actual population was about 150,000. More than 30 years later, this population has multiplied many times as a result of natural increase and migration.
It is pertinent to understand that the 8,000km2 as the size of the FCT, was not recommended by the International Planning Associates (IPA), the planning firm that produced the Abuja Master Plan, but by the FCT Location Committee, and has been defined in the 1976 FCT Decree even before the IPA was commissioned in June 1977 to plan the city, with the size as one of the terms of reference. Thus, the Abuja master plan has originally been designed with the concept that the whole area has already been evacuated. It was later discovered that the number of the original inhabitants was grossly underestimated. The resettlement cost was astronomical, to the extent of being higher than the money needed for the city development (Elleh, 2012). It therefore became necessary to change the resettlement policy from total evacuation to phases, depending on the actual area needed for the city development.
In ideal situation what should precede plot allocation are land availability, layout design and provision of infrastructure. In order to avoid waste, plots sizes are supposed to be determined relative to the needs of the allotees. If ones need could be contained in 500m2, then any excess portion beside that is a colossal waste of the land resources. Many others that need it could not get because somebody already has the title.