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Our Plans For Jabi Lake Hindered By Litigations – Ukele

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Ali Ukele is the director of Parks and Recreation Department in Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). In this interview with LEADERSHIP, he speaks on plans by the agency to develop the Jabi Lake into an international water park.

We are seeing some trees being cut down indiscriminately in various parts of the city centres for the purpose of erecting campaign billboards for politicians, are you aware of these activities?

 

Yes, but you see, people don’t want to stick to regulations. Abuja residents must know that anything vegetation and the green areas in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) belong to parks and recreation department. So, you must come to us for permission before planting or cutting any tree.  This will allow us to go there and then do it professionally. But many people don’t usually do that, rather they prefer to take laws into their hands. We have severally warned residents that if anyone cuts down any tree, he/she is going to pay for it and the money goes into government coffers. On several occasions, we have arrested and taken many defaulters to mobile courts on this matter. We have also been involved on some enlightenment campaigns programmes, through radio jingles and public address systems, so that residents don’t continue to damage our trees. We are also disturbed when we see residents trample on trees and flowers, even when we have been stressing the importance of trees and flowers to human existence in our campaigns. Some people even turn places, where trees are planted, into parking spaces. That is how bad it is. They are acting against the provisions of the law.

 

In the last few years, how many trees have you planted in parts of the FCT?

Well, we have been planting trees along the streets. For instance in 2017 alone, we planted over 10,000 trees on the streets of Abuja. Also, this year, we have been planting trees all over the places within the city centres, especially at the Airport Road, Nnamdi Azikiwe Road and Goodluck Jonathan Drive.

 

What are you doing to control the activities of garden operators in parts of the city, because many neighbours have complained about their disturbances?

We have noticed a lot of infractions on the part of garden owners, especially noise and all sorts of activities around the gardens. We have drawn the attention of the operators to this, both on print and electronic media. We have also gone a step further and called for meetings with the operators. For instance, this year alone, we have held two meetings with the garden owners, to solve this problem. These we are doing to carry the stakeholders along. So, it is not that we are not trying, but the operators have to change their attitude. That is why we are warning owners of gardens that we would not hesitate to withdraw their licence if they continue to violate the rules and regulations for operating parks and gardens in the FCT. We can also revoke the allocation of the operators. We know that we also have our own challenges, because the men we have can never be enough to monitor the activities in these parks and gardens in the FCT, looking at the size and population of the city. However, we have put our case before the government that we need more hands to be able to police or to go round all the parks, for proper monitoring.

 

Some of the green areas within the city are also being taken over by people who build on them, are you  aware of this and what are doing about it?

Yes, we are very much aware of this. You see, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello is very much concerned about this and I know that a committee is working, as we speak to reposition the parks. We also know that people are building in places, where they are not supposed to build. Even the incidental open spaces have been taken over by buildings. But, very soon the committee will finish its job and I am sure that in the next few months, a definite statement will be made in that regard. I believe that the committee will come up with far reaching recommendations and actions on the green areas and parks.

 

The Jabi Lake, which is also under your purview, is being underutilised at the moment, what plans do you have to exploit the potentials in that lake?

Yes, it is pity that the Jabi Lake has come to this. What happened was that during the past administration, there was a concept for Jabi Lake, to be developed into International Water Base Park. The plan was to establish a park equal to what many Nigerians usually travel outside the country to enjoy. The plan was meant to have such facility here. However, issues of litigations have been withholding us from the plans for the Jabi Lake. So, some partners went to court and the authority joined as a party. It is only recently that this administration has called the parties involved to settle out of court. So, as we speak, the issues are being settled out of court so that we can go to the Jabi Lake and do what we are supposed to do. So, the main issue that has been withholding the development of the lake is court cases, which are now being settled out of court.

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