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Exploring Nigeria’s Capital City, Abuja

The land now called Abuja was originally the south-western part of the ancient Habe (Hausa) kingdom of Zazzau (Zaria).

It was populated for centuries by several semi-independent tribes. The largest of the tribes was Gbagyi (Gwari), followed by the Koro and a few other smaller tribes.

So space.com went to Nigeria’s seat of power to discover the city, no matter how little. Welcome to a journey of exploration and adventure, as we embark on a thrilling trip to the vibrant city of Abuja, the heart of Nigeria!

Abuja, known as the “Centre of Unity,” is a city like no other. From its modern infrastructure to its rich cultural heritage, it promises an unforgettable experience for travelers from all walks of life.

But Abuja is not just about the city life; it also boasts of breathtaking natural beauty. Be captivated by the mesmerizing landscapes, from the rolling hills to the expansive parks that provide a serene oasis within the bustling city.


Why The Name, Abuja

The Name Abuja Is Coined Out Of The Hausa Language And It Was Derived From The Name Abubakar–Ja.

Abubakar-Ja is derived from the name of a person called Mallam Abubakar JA and the name “Abubakar” is an Islamic name while the word “Ja” is referring to a red color in the Hausa Language; So Abubakar-Ja Is Literally Translated As “Abubakar The Red” Or “The Red Abubakar”, but its meaning is referring to one Abubakar who was Fair in Complexion in terms of his skin appearance and who was one of the settlers in the modern day Abuja long ago even before Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914.

Mallam Abubakar was an indigene of the town, although he wasn’t the ruler of the town, but the neighboring communities described this settlement as the town of Abubakar-JA.

The reason for this was in the Sub-Saharan African nation’s villages and towns apart from the fringes of the Sahara desert where the Shuwa-Arabs exist as in the northern Borno and Yobe states or among some few Fulani ethnic clans, fair looking people in complexion are very few among the native African communities and where they do exist in the midst of the black majority people often describe them in accordance to their complexions.

For example even in the modern day Nigeria, you can see people calling people in accordance to their complexion so it is common to hear Usman Bature, Modu Kime ,Yellow man, red man, oyingo, Amina Nasa’ara etc. so this makes the town of Abubakar-JA to be called Abubakar-JA, but however because Abubakar Is Abbreviated As “Abu” In The Hausa Language Over Time The Name Abubakar-Ja Was Abbreviated To Abuja.

So both Abuja and Suleja were names derived from two brothers Mallam Abubakar-Ja and Mallam Suleman Ja.

Geographically both Abuja and Suleja were towns of Niger state, but with the creation of the Federal Capital Authority Abuja was carved out of Niger state to form the Nigeria’s new federal capital, while Suleja still remains in Niger state although as a result of rapid developments of Abuja the two cities are now connected together as such that even some workers of Abuja are residents of Suleja.

Who Founded FCT Abuja?
The evolution of Abuja as the capital city of Nigeria started on February 3, 1976, when the Head of the Federal Military Government, Murtala Muhammed in a nationwide broadcast, announced the creation of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also known as Abuja Federal Capital Territory, administrative territory, central Nigeria, created in 1976.

The territory is located north of the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers. It is bordered by the states of Niger to the west and northwest, Kaduna to the northeast, Nassarawa to the east and south, and Kogi to the southwest. Abuja, the federal capital and a planned modern city, is located near the centre of the territory.

The Vegetation Is Mainly Savanna With Limited Forest Areas. Agriculture, The Economic Mainstay, Produces Yams, Millet, Corn, Sorghum, And Beans.

The population comprises the Gwari, Koro, Ganagana, Gwandara, Afo, and Bassa ethnic groups, predominantly dairy farmers.

Hausa and Fulani also live in the territory. Mineral Resources Include Clay, Tin, Feldspar, Gold, Iron Ore, Lead, Marble And Talc.

Abuja has an airport and major road connections. Area 2,824 square miles (7,315 square km). Pop. (2006) 1,406,239; (2016 est.) 3,564,100.

ECONOTES

ABUJA DISTRICTS

Central Business District

Abuja’s Central District, also called Central Area, is a strip of land stretching from Aso Rock in the east to the National Stadium and the Old City gate in the West.

It is like the city’s spinal cord, dividing it into the northern sector with Maitama and Wuse, and the southern sector with Garki and Asokoro.

Garki District

The Garki District is the area in the southwest corner of the city, having the Central District to the north and the Asokoro District to the east.

The district is subdivided into units called “Areas”. Garki uses a distinctive naming convention of “Area” to refer to parts of Garki. These are designated as Areas 1 to 11.

Wuse District

Wuse District is the northwestern part of the city, with the Maitama District to its north and the Central District to its south.

The District is numbered Zones 1–6. The Wuse Market is Abuja’s principal market. The second most important post office in the city is here.

Maitama District

Maitama District is to the north of the city, with the Wuse and Central Districts lying to its southwest and southeast.

This area is home to the top bracket sections of society and business and has the reputation of being very exclusive and very expensive. Maitama District is also home to many of the European and Asian embassies.

Maitama II District

Maitama II District Cadastral Zone A10 is a new district created by the FCT administration of Muhammed Bello in 2018.

Maitama 2 as it is unofficially called was created from Mpape hills, a suburb bothering Bwari and Maitama Districts of the FCT.

Asokoro District

Asokoro District, the doyen of the districts, houses all of the state’s lodges/guesthouses.

The ECOWAS secretariat is a focal point of interest. Asokoro is to the east of Garki District and south of Central District.

In addition, the Presidential Palace (commonly referred to as the Aso Rock) is in Asokoro District. By virtue of this fact, Asokoro is the most secure area of the city.

Jabi District

Jabi is a developed district in phase 2 of Abuja. It is both residential and commercial in nature. The residential parts of the district are peaceful with streets of large gated houses being a prominent feature.

The more commercial parts of the area are significantly busier. The district plays host to the Jabi Lake, which sits by the Jabi Lake Mall.

Gwarimpa District

Gwarimpa is the last district in the Abuja Municipal Area Council. It is a 20-kilometre drive from the central district and contains the largest single housing estate in Nigeria, the Gwarimpa Housing Estate.

The estate was built by the administration of General Sani Abacha and is the largest of its kind in Africa.

It provides residence for the majority of the civil servants in federal ministries and government parastatals.

Durumi District

Durumi District is located southwest of Abuja and is bordered by Garki Districts I and II to the northeast.

Its borders are the Oladipo Diya Road to the southwest, the Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way to the northeast, and Ahmadu Bello Way to the southeast.

Apo District

The district is mostly residential, but it has enough commercial activities to sustain it.

Due to all the investments that the place has attracted and the good infrastructure, a lot of people have found Apo a good choice when they are deciding where to live in Abuja.

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Wuse Market

Wuse Market this is the biggest open shopping market in Abuja. It offers a glimpse of the local life with numerous stores and outlets selling everything from crafts, to textiles, jewelleries, housewares, electronics, domestic appliances, and fresh food items from all over the country.

This is the main market in Abuja and is located in Zone 5 of Wuse district. It is a general market where you can find almost anything; food stuff, fresh vegetables, meat, clothes, electronics, furniture, phones, rugs and carpets etc.

The plan was for this place to be a secondary school, but government rescinded on the decision.

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Jabi Lake

Unarguably, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, Abuja is a wonderful city with a lot of sights and places for both locals and tourists. One of those places is Jabi Lake, a recreational and tourist site.

Jabi Lake is a very popular lake in Abuja, probably the most widely known. The lake is a man-made body of water that was originally built to be a source of water for the inhabitants of Abuja.

But, along the line, it became a tourist site and a fishing spot after they built the Usuma Dam.

Jabi Lake, while it’s not so large, is still pretty big enough for various activities to go in it. It has a total surface area of 1300 hectares.

Abuja’s geography is defined by Aso Rock, a 400-metre (1,300 ft) monolith left by water erosion.

The Presidential Complex, National Assembly, Supreme Court and much of the city extend to the south of the rock. Zuma Rock, a 792-metre (2,598 ft) monolith, lies just north of the city on the expressway to Kaduna.

However there has been a long dispute between FCTA and the Niger State Government over the rightful owner of Dakwa Local government area where the Zuma Rock is situated, in 2018 both parties reached an agreement to stay off prior till when agreement will be reached on who owns the Zuma Rock.

Housing

The cost of living in Abuja is quite high. The city is more expensive than other African giants such as Johannesburg and Nairobi.

This can be seen in Abuja’s ranking in Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey, which placed it as the 140th most expensive out of 227 cities.

The rental market in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, has witnessed a staggering surge in prices.

Landlords, driven by the need to cover their expenses and maintain their standard of living, have resorted to charging exorbitant rents.

A two-bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Abuja, such as Karu, Nyanya, Lugbe, Kubwa, and Apo, now commands an average rent of between 800,000 to 1.5 million Naira per year.

However, these figures pale in comparison to the sky-high rates demanded in posh neighborhoods like Asokoro, Maitama, Garki, Wuse, Jabi, and Utako.

As subsidiary disburses N10.6b mortgages to 962 beneficiaries

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has entered into a tripartite agreement with two firms to construct 1,200 housing units in Abuja.

Meanwhile, The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has expressed dissatisfaction with the N85 billion contract to provide infrastructure for the Wasa Affordable Housing project in Wasa District, Abuja.

Wike expressed his displeasure when he led the Minister of State for FCT, Mariya Mahmoud, and other government officials to visit the road construction site for the housing estate in September, 2023.

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Earlier, Olusegun Olusan, acting coordinator of the Satellite Town Development Department, explained that the contract for the provision of the infrastructure was awarded in 2014 at N26 billion but revised to N85 billion in 2018.

Olusan told the minister that so far, a total of N21 billion had been paid to the contractor with a balance of N64 billion, adding that the percentage of work done so far is 21.4 per cent.

However, the minister was not impressed with the arrangement made by the FCT, stressing that the government should not spend N85 billion to provide infrastructure and land and benefit nothing.

Abuja Master Plan

Let’s take a look at Abuja master plan.

The International Planning Associates (IPA) Was Commissioned In June 1977, By The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) To Produce The Abuja Master Plan And Its Regional Grid.

According to the terms of reference, the master planning process was to include a review of relevant data, selection of a capital city site, preparation of regional and city plans and the accompanying design and development standards manual.

The master plan for Abuja defined the general structure and major design elements of the city that are now visible.

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More detailed design of the central areas of the capital, particularly its monumental core, was accomplished by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, with his team of city planners at Kenzo Tange and Urtec company.

Climate

The FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY experiences three weather conditions annually. This includes a warm, humid rainy season and a blistering dry season.

In between the two, there is a brief interlude of harmattan occasioned by the northeast trade wind, with the main feature of dust haze and cloudless skies.

The rainy season begins from April and ends in October,[99] when daytime temperatures reach 28 °C to 30 °C and nighttime lows hover around 22 °C to 23 °C.

In the dry season, daytime temperatures can soar as high as 40 °C and overnight temperatures can dip to 15 °C.

Even the coolest nights can be followed by daytime temperatures well above 30 °C.

The FCT falls within the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic zone of the West African sub-region.

Patches of rain forest, however, occur in the Gwagwa plains, especially in the rugged terrain to the southeastern parts of the territory, where a landscape of gullies and rough terrain is found.

These areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) form one of the few surviving occurrences of the mature forest vegetation in Nigeria.

Is Abuja An Industrial City Or A Civil Service City?

Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, benefits from above average infrastructure and has been recognized as Africa’s fastest growing city – but with that come challenges.

With the rapid population growth, it is clear that the FCT cannot continue to depend on government as its prime economic base.

Outside of Government, Abuja’s key industries include, Agro-Allied, Transportation, Retail, Real Estate and Hospitality.

Abuja lies within a rich belt of mining activity, which would provide access to materials that could be key components of new technologies, in ICT, Agriculture, Construction and Energy, to name a few.

Embassies And Foreign Missions/ International Agencies

Abuja also houses several embassies and foreign missions. International agencies are not left out.

Central Bank of Nigeria

Abuja also houses Nigeria’s apex bank, also know as Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The mandate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is derived from the 1958 Act of Parliament, as amended in 1991, 1993,1997,1998,1999 and 2007.

The CBN Act of 2007 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria charges the Bank with the overall control and administration of the monetary and financial sector policies of the Federal Government.

In addition to its core functions, CBN has over the years performed some major developmental functions, focused on all the key sectors of the Nigerian economy (financial, agricultural and industrial sectors).

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So whether you’re a history buff, an adventure seeker, or a cultural enthusiast, Abuja offers something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey, filled with unforgettable experiences and new discoveries.

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