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What You Need To Know About The Federal Capital Territory [FCT] – Abuja

Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria. It is located in the centre of Nigeria, within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Abuja is a planned city[2], and was built mainly in the 1980s. It officially became Nigeria’s capital on 12 December 1991, replacing Lagos. At the 2006 census, the city of Abuja had a population of 776,298.
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Nigerian National Assembly, AbujaIn light of the ethnic and religious divisions of Nigeria, plans had been devised since Nigeria’s independence to have its capital in a location deemed neutral to all parties. The location was eventually designated in the centre of the country in the early 1970s as it signified neutrality and national unity. Another impetus for Abuja came because of Lagos’ population boom that made that city overcrowded and conditions squalid. The logic used was similar to how Brazil planned its capital, Brasília. Construction broke ground and was dedicated in the late 1970s but, due to economic and political instability, the initial stages of the city were not complete until the late 1980s.The master plan for Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was developed by International Planning Associates (IPA), a consortium of three American firms: Planning Research Corporation; Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd; and Archisystems, a division of the Hughes Organization. The master plan for Abuja defined the general structure and major design elements of the city that are visible in the city’s current form. More detailed design of the central areas of the capital, particularly its monumental core, was accomplished by Kenzo Tange, a renowned Japanese architect, with his team of city planners at Kenzo Tange and Urtec company.Most countries relocated their embassies to Abuja, and many maintain their former embassies as consulates in Lagos, still the commercial capital of Nigeria.Abuja is the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the regional headquarters of OPEC.Abuja and the FCT have experienced huge population growth; it has been reported that some areas around Abuja have been growing at 20% to 30% per year.Squatter settlements and towns have spread rapidly in and outside the city limits. Tens of thousands of people have been evicted since former FCT minister Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai started a demolition campaign in 2003.The FTC’s ministers have been as follows: John Jatau Kadiya, 1979–1982; Iro Abubakar Dan Musa 1982–1983; Haliru Dantoro 1983–1984; Mamman Jiya Vatsa 1984–December 1985; Hamza Abdullahi 1986–1989; Gado Nasko 1989–1993; Jeremiah Timbut Useni 1993–1998; Mamman Kontagora 1998–1999; Ibrahim Bonu 1999–2001; Mohammed Abba Gana 2001–2003; Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai 2003–May 2007; Aliyu Modibo 2007–2008; Adamu Aliero 2008–2010; Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed 2010–the present.DistrictsThe Phase 1 area of the city is divided into five districts: the Central, the Garki, Wuse, Maitama, and Asokoro. There are also five districts in Phase 2. They are Kado, Durumi, Gudu, Utako and Jabi. And the Phase 3 districts are Mabuchi, Katampe, Wuye and Gwarimpa.There are five suburban districts: Nyanya, Karu, Gwagwalada, Kubwa, and Jukwoyi. Along the Airport Road are clusters of satellite settlements, namely Lugbe, Chika, Kuchigworo and Pyakassa. Other satellite settlements are Idu (the main industrial zone), Mpape, Karimu, Gwagwa, Dei-Dei (housing the International Livestock market and also International Building materials market).Central District
Skyline of Abuja Central DistrictAbuja’s Central District is between the foot of Aso Rock and into the Three Arms Zone to the southern base of the ring road. 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. While each district has its own clearly demarcated commercial and residential sectors, the Central District is the city’s principal Business Zone, where practically all parastatals and multinational corporations have their offices. An attractive area in the Central District is the region known as the Three Arms Zone, so called because it houses the administrative offices of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the federal government. A few of the other sites worth seeing in the area are the federal secretariats alongside Shehu Shagari Way, Aso Hill, the Abuja Plant Nursery, Eagle Square (which has important historic significance, as it was in this grounds that the present democratic dispensation had its origin on May 29, 1999) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier across the road facing it. The National Mosque and National Church of Nigeria are opposite each other on either side of Independence Avenue. A well-known government office is the Ministry of Defence, popularly nicknamed “Ship House”.
Garki District
 Central Bank of Nigeria headquarters in AbujaThe 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. Garki II is used to differentiate the area from Garki Area 2. Visitors may find this system confusing.Garki is presently the principal business district of Abuja. Numerous buildings of interest are in this area. Some of them include the General Post Office, Abuja International Conference Centre along the busy Herbert Maculay Way, Nicon Luxury Hotel (formally known as Abuja Sofitel Hotel and Le Meridian), Agura Hotel and Old Federal Secretariat Complex Buildings (Area 1). A new five-star hotel, Hawthorn Suites Abuja, is in Garki II.Area 2 is mainly used for residential purposes, although a zoological garden as well as Garki Shopping Centre are in Area 2. Several banks and other commercial offices are located along Moshood Abiola Way in Area 7. The headquarters of the Nigerian Armed Forces — Army, Airforce and Navy — are all in the Garki District.The tallest building in this district is the Radio House, which houses the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications, and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) stations and corporate headquarters are based in Garki. The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) which oversees and runs the Administration of the Federal Capital Territory has its offices in Garki.The Office of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is in Area 10. Other places of note include the Arts and Culture Centre and The Nigerian Police Mobile Force headquarters in Area 10. The Abuja Municipal Area Council, which is the local government administration has its headquarters in Area 10. The new United States Embassy is in the Garki district.

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 1-8. The Wuse Market is Abuja’s principal market (Zone 5). The second most important post office in the city is here. This district houses the Sheraton Hotel and Towers (Zone 4), Ibro International hotel, the Foreign Affairs Ministry Headquarters (Zone 1) and Nigerian Customs Services Headquarters, Corporate Affairs Commission (Zone 5), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC) (Zone 7), Wuse General Hospital, and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation. Just as Garki District has Garki II, Wuse has Wuse II. This is distinct from Wuse Zone 2.

Maitama District

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National Communications Headquarters, AbujaMaitama District is to the north of the city, with the Wuse and Central Districts lying to its southwest and southeast respectively. This area is home to the top bracket sections of society and business, and has the reputation of being very exclusive and very expensive. Interesting buildings include the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, National Communications Commission Headquarters (NCC), National Universities Commission (NUC), Soil Conservation Complex, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The British High Commission is located along Aguiyi Ironsi Way, in Maitama. Also, the Maitama District Hospital is another notable building in Maitama. Maitama District is home to many of the European embassies.

Asokoro District


Abuja Residential Duplex in Asokoro DistrictAsokoro District, the doyen of the districts, houses all of the state’s lodges/guest houses. The ECOWAS secretariat is a focal point of interest. Asokoro is to the east of Garki district and south of Central district. It is one of the most exclusive districts of Abuja and houses virtually all of the federal cabinet ministers; in addition, the Presidential Palace (Aso Rock) is in Asokoro district. By virtue of this fact, Asokoro is the most secured area of the city.
Gwarimpa District
 One of Abuja’s smaller shopping centresGwarimpa is the last district in the Abuja Municipal Area Council. It is a 20-kilometer 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. The ECOWAS Court has an official quarters for the President and Members of the Court in Gwarimpa.Weather and climateThe FCT 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, intensified coldness and dryness.The rainy season begins from April and ends in October, when daytime temperatures reach 28 °C (82.4 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F) and nighttime lows hover around 22 °C (71.6 °F) to 23 °C (73.4 °F). In the dry season, daytime temperatures can soar as high as 40 °C (104.0 °F) and nighttime temperatures can dip to 12 °C (53.6 °F). Even the chilliest nights can be followed by daytime temperatures well above 30 °C (86.0 °F). The high altitudes and undulating terrain of the FCT act as a moderating influence on the weather of the territory.Rainfall in the FCT reflects the territory’s location on the windward side of the Jos Plateau and the zone of rising air masses. The annual total rainfall is in the range of 1100 mm to 1600 mm.
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Abuja Millennium Park

VegetationThe 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 gullied train to the south and the rugged southeastern parts of the territory. These areas of the FCT form one of the surviving occurrences of the mature forest vegetation in Nigeria.SkylineThe Abuja skyline is made up of mostly mid-range and a few tall buildings. Only recently have tall buildings begun to appear. Most of the buildings are modern, reflecting that it is a new city.Plans have been made to build skyscrapers such as the Millennium Tower which is currently under construction. When finished, this structure will loom 170 meters above the city. The tower will be part of a huge cultural development complex called the Nigeria National Complex including the Nigeria Cultural Centre, a 120.000 m2 structure dedicated to the art and culture of Nigeria. The Cultural Centre and the Millennium Tower have been designed by the Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti.
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