Saturday, May 24, 2014 11:51 am
By Sola Adeola from Abuja
A non Abuja resident might have been wondering what three arms zones signify. If he is visiting Abuja for the first time, his impression about the city will instantly change as the neatest city in Nigeria. It is a nation that likes to boast that is the giant of Africa and recently the largest economy.
A trip to the the zone, can be perfectly described as the seat of power, where government businesses are transacted on a daily basis. The occupants of this zone do not pay rent, tenement rate, neither do they bother themselves about armed robbery. Decisions that affect Nigeria’s life are taken in this zone and the occupants are the Federal Secretariat, the Supreme Court and the National Assembly .
One thing that will strike you when a visitor arrives this zone is the gigantic structure. About five hundred people troop in and out to this massive building on a daily basis for one transaction or the other. Inside, this building accommodates 32 ministries of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.The remaining ministries are located in different areas of Abuja such as Defence, Commerce, Transport, Agriculture, Finance, Education, Foreign Affairs and Water Resources. Eighty percent of the parastatals are also the occupants of this building. It is commonly called SGF building or ‘federal secretariat’.
Federal Secretariat is located within Three Arms Zone, adjacent to it is the Eagle Square where state functions were performed before the murderous activities of the insurgent. The National Assembly and the Supreme Court are about 3km apart from the Federal Secretariat. These are the three buildings that constitute the Three Arms Zone.
The Federal Secretariat is supposed to be the brow office complex since it houses cabinet ministers. That is to say, it mirrors the government. Ufortunately this is not the case. The Federal Secretariat today competes with the structure in slump areas and cities across the country.
Facilities in this complex have decayed while workers and visitors endure the stress of transacting business . For instance, the elevators that take visitors to the ministers offices have ” out of use ” label or sticker hanged or pasted on them, meaning that the visitors have to climb the staircase as far as eleventh floors. This may take the visitors minimum of fifteen minutes. By the time the visitors get to the office of the Secretary to the Federation or minister, there are no functional air conditioners to refreshen. He either grabs a hand fan or newspapers like other visitors to give himself some fresh air.
Worst of all, is the toilet facility. Again, some of these toilets are either labelled ” out of use” or blocked with items like Ghana Must Go or broken tiles and wood which serve as a notice to intending users that there is no water. Some of these toilets seats are stained with feaces or permanently damaged.
TheNEWS magazine visited some of these toilets to see things. A businessman walking on the corridor said whenever he goes to the complex, he makes sure that he does not eat anything that can make him answer nature’s call. “It is terrible! I just transact my business and leave”, he said. Uche Ugwuegbu, response is not different . Uche, a low cadre civil servant said he Urinates outside the complex when he is pressed. The magazine went to the spot described by Uche. It was a surprise to see some men urinating to bare ground. The whole atmosphere and the environment was smelling of urine. Adamu Mohammed, who just finished urinating, said, he uses the spot because there are no toilets in the complex. “Dem get toilet?” He asked rhetorically.
A visitor passing along the corridors will have to hold his nostrils or use an handkerchief to cover his nose from the stench oozing from the toilets. This offensive smell an be perceived right from the the main entrance of the complex. Upon entering the reception, visitors can be seen covering their noses and they easily get used to the odor after five minutes they enter. The unfortunate thing is about the general sanitation condition of the toilets which may have been like this a long time because the ministers and the top officials of the ministries do not use them. They have toilets in their offices and large pots to store water that they use to flush after use . It is a situation a top official describe as embarrassing to the nation full of resources but lack management and accountability. The official who craved anonymity said, the maintenance of this building is supposed to be from the office of the Secretary to The Federal Government. “It is a crying international shame” he lamented. I have been to many parts of the world, I tell you, l have never seen a thing like this, not even in Ghana here. I mean this is the eyes of the nation. I just wish we imbibe maintenance culture. This building is less than 30years old. Look at how it looks a century old building because it lacks proper maintenance .
Looking round again, the Magazine noticed that some crawling plants have grown and overtaken some portions of the walls of the building . The side looks like an abandoned building. As this reporter was about to take the picture she was accosted by the security men who gave her a stern warning to stay away otherwise her device would be destroyed.
SGF itself does not only accommodate government officials. It is also accommodates hawkers who bring all manners of food stuff raging from cucumber , carrot, tomatoes, avocado, pawpaw to sell in front of the building . From the road to the car park everywhere food hawkers and fruits and vegetable sell their wares .
With the current security situation in the country this could pose security threat to the environment , the building, the car park, passerby and even motorists if necessary precaution is not taken .