Gbaupe village is one of the settlements in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). NANNA SELKUR reports that after about 100 years of existence, the community is in dire need of basic amenities.
Gbaupe is a village located along Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. It is one of the oldest villages in the FCT.
According to sources, the existence of the village dates back to as far as during the Queen Amina conquest.
Gbaupe lies majestically among natural vegetations and streams, at the foot of a beautifully formed mountain. The natives of Settlers here are predominantly farmers and hunters. This serves as the basic and only means of subsistence.
But a tour round Gbaupe tells the story of a community that has suffered neglect in all facets, as the place looks more like a jungle than a settlement in the nation’s capital city.
Over hundred years since the first hunters settled at Gbaupe, it has been without electricity, portable water and health-care facilities.
But recently, Gbaupe has attracted many foreigners of recent. Despite the presence of four construction companies, carrying out quarry activities on some of the surrounding mountains Gbaupe still cannot boast of a motorable road.
The only road linking Gbaupe to the federal capital city has been eaten up by erosion. Visitors to the village have to park their cars and trek several miles to the village.
The only school in the community is a Local Education Authority (LEA) primary school, which also serves as terminal point for young people who cannot afford to go to school outside the community, as there is no secondary school there.
These are some of the frightening facts about the condition of the people in this ancient and neglected community.
The village head, Danjuma Gajere, expressed displeasure over the situation in the village, which has made life difficult for the people. “We are basically neglected in terms of provision of social amenities. Imagine we go to the city to bring water to the village. We pay N200 for the transportation and buy the water for N20 a keg and those that cannot afford it go the river. Because we can’t manage our wells, we don’t bother to sink them. It’s frustrating,” he said.
He said several appeals to the area council to come to their aid had yielded no result.
“The area council authority is aware of the situation here and despite the promises to expedite action nothing tangible has been done as far, as the provision of social amenities is concerned.
We have no electricity, the road leading to Kuje is the only road that was graded by the present administration, but due to the rains, it is now in a state of disrepair. How do we reach out to other parts of FCT?” Gajere said.
Speaking further, Gajere said the people of the community seemed to be voiceless as they had none of their indigenes in position of authority at any level of government.
“We don’t have illustrious sons in political positions or even in government parastatals that can speak for us and protect our interest and I believe this is one of our problems. Most of us did not have the opportunity to acquire formal education but we later realised the importance of education and we now have university graduates among us, even though most of them have no jobs.
“They only remember us during elections when they make us promises but forget us soon after the elections. When compared with neighbouring villages like Goabi, Dafara, Piye and other communities, which have some notable social amenities, Gbaupe is backward.”
Residents of Gbaupe also live in fear of environmental hazards because of the quarry activities that go on there. As it is expected, these activities cause vibration and pollution in the environment.
A cross-section of the residents who spoke resident to LEADERSHIP said they live in fear because adequate environmental assessments were not carried out before the construction companies were licensed to carry out their activities.
As a result of these, LEADERSHIP gathered that most of them suffer several aliments, the most common among them cough. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no medical facility in the village to attend to them.
The companies operating quarries in the village have failed the people in the area of corporate social responsibility, as their presence in the village has not had any positive impact on them.
The village head has also expressed fear that they may be on the verge of losing their farm lands as most of the land has been allocated to other people by the FCT authorities.
“My people have come to me to say they want lands to at least build houses, I told them I don’t have power over lands. We have reported to the Kuje area council to come and show us where the villagers’ allocation starts and end and where the FCT land starts, but they have not done that. I fear we might go into extinction when you put all these factors affecting us together, and if the government does not come to our rescue,” he said.
Responding to the issues raised, the chairman of Kuje area council, Danladi Zhin, said although he is aware of their predicament, he blames the village head for not reporting back to the local government secretariat after he obtained permission from the Ministry of Solid Minerals to grant the construction companies permission to carry out quarry activities in his area.
He said they would have put heads together to ensure that the construction companies carryout significant development in the area.
Zhin said, “The village head thought they would achieve momentous development by by-passing the local authorities, they don’t know we are here to ensure that these companies do the appropriate thing. When they neglect us, these companies will just give them little incentives and blind them with these things and they will be acting in ignorance.
“On the issue of land allocation for the community, some of the land has been allocated before I became the chairman of this council. However, they have only related their land issue verbally, let them put it in writing, and then we will see what we can do. We will also make an effort to give them water, and light from Aco Estate. But you know they are not the only village with this sort of problem, there are other similar situations but we don’t have the financial capacity to attend to each of these places.”