Tuesday, 1 September 2009
BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
FROM October 24 to November 15, Nigeria will be hosting the U-17 FIFA World Cup. The global holds in eight cities across the country namely: Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Calabar, Enugu and Ijebu Ode. In this series, we present a profile of the eight cities starting with Abuja. Dubbed the ‘Centre of Unity’, Abuja was created on February 5, 1976, following the promulgation of Decree 6 by the Murtala-Obasanjo regime. The decision was based on the recommendation of a committee led by the late Justice Akinola Aguda, one of Nigeria’s finest legal minds. The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) was mandated to oversee the infrastructural development of the city. On December 12, 1991, the then head of state, President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, formally moved the capital city from Lagos to Abuja. And over the years, the city has witnessed tremendous growth and development, making it the country’s finest city in terms of landscape and architecture. The city has an appealing landscape with a blend of low plains and undulating rocky uplands. A perfect example of the captivating nature of the city is the Aso (Asokoro) rock end from which the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria derives its name. Spanning 8, 000sq kilometers with about 250sq kilometers currently developed, Abuja is the heart of the country in terms of its geographic location, a reason it is referred to as the ‘centre of unity.’ The landmass was carved out from Nasarawa, Kogi and Niger states hence the proximity of the city to these states. Administratively, it is supposed to operate the mayoral system, however, a minister runs its affairs with the Senate (Upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria making laws for its governance. Abuja has about four distinct districts namely: Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and Central Business Districts with about six local councils – Abaji, Kuje, Municipal, Gwangwalada, Kwali and Bwari. Each has a separate administration. Infrastructure Though the development of Abuja is still on-going, visitors to the city would find it an amazing place to visit and live in. It enjoys a calm ambience devoid of irritant elements that are associated with most developed and developing cities. Foreign Missions There is heavy presence of foreign missions and embassies in the city. Also, some international organisations such as EU and UNESCO have offices here. Checklist of attractive spots The Three Arm Zone: This zone houses the Presidential Villa; National Assembly and Supreme Court. However, these magnificent structures are restricted areas for tour with the exemption of the National Assembly complex that needs due permission for it. The presence of heavy security may appear a hindrance —. Tomb of Unknown Soldier: At the entrance of National Assembly complex is the tomb of an Unknown Soldier adorned in national colours. One of the attractions here is the Brigade of Guard, which is mounted round the clock at the site. Eagle Square: It is an expansive space that is purpose built for hosting different outdoor events. It is fast becoming a spot of important political gathering of the nation’s politicians and the Federal Government. One of the events staged here yearly is the Abuja Carnival, which holds in November. Bullet House: It houses the Federal Secretariat — a massive structure — where most of the federal bureaucrats operate. The Office of the Head of Service, which is the nation’s number one civil servant. So is that of Secretary to the Federal Government. National Children Park and Zoo: The park, which has a plant nursery section where most of the trees planted in the city, are grown, is a pleasing enclave to visit. It boasts of fauna and flora resources. There are also a lot of play toys equipment for children. There is also an eatery within the park for adults and children alike. Millennium Park: It is an open massive garden heavily populated with trees and flowers where visitors and lovebirds can have fun. Maitama Amusement Park: Located in the Maitama district of the city, it is a theme park for leisure and nature walk. Abuja Wonderland: It is another theme park in the city, but with different flavour. Located near the National Stadium, it is perhaps one of the most equipped parks within the city where children and adult can engage in different activities. Its presents a picture of a massive structure that is hewed out of the rocky ranges, which makes it a perfect place to savour nature. National Mosque: It is a national patrimony for Muslim faithful. It’s an outstanding architectural edifice with gold outlay. It stands as one of the landmarks of the city. National Ecumenical Centre: Just like the National Mosque, it is a beautiful structure dedicated for the Christians. It is equally appealing and a must see landmark in the city. Zuma Rock: It is located at Suleja, a fringe of the city. It’s a massive and sprawling rocky range that is believed to have a protean face etched by nature. Nigeria Tourism Village: Run by a private operator, the village, which is located adjacent to the Zuma rock, is dedicated to the preservation of Nigeria’s cultural heritage ranging from architecture to cuisine. NTDC Tourism Village: Located in the old secretariat in Area One, the village, which houses the office of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), the body responsible for tourism administration in the country, is an attractive place to behold. Besides serving as an administrative place, it is also dedicated to the promotion of tourism, as it has, among others, a gallery; art shop; museum; seminar and meeting rooms; and multi media studio. It also has a restaurant for local cuisine. Others spots include Julie Useni Park; Arts and Craft Village; Nu Metro Cinema; The Dome; National Stadium; ECOWAS Building; IBB Golf Course; and International Conference Centre Places to stay Abuja is one of the cities in Nigeria with a growing number of hotels ranging from budget to luxury hotels. The list include Nicon Luxury Suites, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Angeles Hotel, Rockview Hotel, Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Mediterranean Resort, Grace Point Hotel, Chida Guest House, Savannah Suites, Bolingo Hotel, Agura Hotel, Day Spring Hotel and Hotel Rosebud. Others are Bolton White Hotel, Chelsea Hotel, and Crystal Palace Hotel. Dining out For a taste of Nigerian dishes and other continental flavours as well as a place to cool off after the day’s work, the following places should arouse one’s interest; Jenivik Restaurant, Shagalinku, Salamander Café, Chopsticks, Thai Hi Royal, Ciao and Sinoni Restaurant. Southern Fried Chicken, Capital Bar of Transcorp Hilton Hotel and Coconut Beach, Elephant and Lobby Bar and Italian Restaurant of Abuja Sheraton Hotel. Blakes, De Grand Mirage Nite Club, Octagon Nite Club and, Nigerian Tourist Village as well as Two – Four – Seven. Others are Mama Cass, Mr. Bigg’s, Sweet Sensation, Wakkis, Chez Victor, Chase Continental, Savannah Suite Garden and bar, British Council Rooftop café, and Kesthern Garden. Shopping out Wuse Market, Garki Market, Grand Square, Banex Plaza, Amigos, Park ‘n’ Shop and Ceddi Plaza.