Tucked away inside the forcing structures of the twin-complex Federal Secretariat, Abuja, lies an uncompleted building which throughout the years has housed a shanty that duplicates for some as private and business focuses.
The shanty, which exists outside the elected capital city masterplan, without obstruction by government, is situated in a relinquished working inside the secretariat complex, with conspicuous government foundations, including the elected services of fund, training and wellbeing, and also Louis Edet House (Nigeria Police Force Headquarters) among its neighbors.
The particular uncompleted building has since existed in abandonment under several military and civilian administrations, from that of Mr. Babangida who built the secretariat, to those of Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umar Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and now Muhammadu Buhari.
Workers, who declined to be identified for fear of victimisation by government, said the illegal activities in the abandoned building and the general lawlessness of its occupants are well known at the secretariat.
“The abandoned decking building is also an office complex. Babangida gave the job to contractors but they did not finish it,” a ministry staff said to the reporter.
“Lots of people sleep in the federal secretariat. Millions of naira is allocated for the maintenance of the complex but the big bosses are squandering it,” said the worker when asked how such shanties could have escaped the attention of those maintaining the edifice.
Florence is a contract caterer in the abandoned building. She refused to disclose her surname.
“I have been here for over two years, I assist my madam to cook,” she told the reporter, pointing to a smelly, water-filled area she referred to as their kitchen. “After the government said we are out of recession we dey sell well, market is improving.”
She said the abandoned building has four entrances but one was blocked by the dwellers due to constant robbery and theft within the premises.
A carwash operator, Chimi from Akwa Ibom State, said he provides service for ministry workers and visitors to the secretariat. He in turn buys his food and other needs in “the market” within the building.
“Hope you are not here to send us away? This is where I make my living,” he said suspiciously
Government agencies and officials claim ignorance of the shanty and the mini-dumpsite it houses.
Abandoned structure at the Federal secretariat used as a junk yard
“Any of the contractors that dump refuse where it is not supposed to dump it is illegal dumping,” he said.
Perhaps because the agency is not aware of the eyesore, life is set to go on for the dwellers of the slum at the very heart of the symbol of the Nigerian bureaucracy.