SPECIAL REPORT: Maraba Takushara, an FCT Community Under Siege… So Close to civilisation, yet so far
A lot of investigative stories have been told about communities who look fortunate based on their proximity to fortune but are in reality as unfortunate as misfortune itself. As ironic as this sounds, it is the reality of the life we live in Africa. A life of resources and potential in abundance but penury in excess for the majority.
Such is the case of ‘Maraban Takushara’, a village under the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), located on the outskirts of Apo Mechanic village.
PRNigeria reports that the village is located in the federal capital city of Abuja, a land flowing with milk and honey, yet the village dwellers only know bitterness. The community is located in AMAC, one of the richest local government areas in the country, yet the village and the villagers are poorer than church rat.
According to the village head, it has a population of about one thousand people, without primary healthcare facility, school, electricity, potable water, and with more than a fair share of security challenges.
The village accommodates both Muslims and Christians with different ethnic groups. But the major ethnic groups are Tiv, Gbagyi and Fulani. Their major occupation is farming. While the structure and settings of their buildings look primitive the only standard structure in the community is the newly built mosque.
In 2019, three children were kidnapped from the village on their way from school which is located in Souka village. The distance between Takushara and Souka is like a two kilometer drive.
A youth leader of the community, Vincent Faga told PRNigeria that the children spent 3 weeks in the hands of the kidnappers who later released them when efforts to get ransom proved abortive. The incident left a long-lasting trauma in the minds of community dwellers who immediately stopped the idea of children going to school completely. The incident also forced the parents of the kids to move out of the community without trace.
PRNigeria team that visited the community found out that there was no sign of security or government presence as the nearest police station to the village is another community called ‘Waru’, a 10 kilometre drive via a lonely road.
“Police don’t patrol our village. They only come if something terrible happens or when they are invited. We are living at our own risk, Godknows, a villager lamented.
Another tragedy hit the community during the last rainy season when children went to the stream to fetch water, and two of them were drowned in the stream. The community lacks potable water. Mostly, water is fetched from the stream, as the only standard borehole constructed by the Senator representing FCT, Philiph Aduda, is located 200 meters away from the village. It was stationed at a village called Suoka.
Maraba Takushara women lamented bitterly to PRNigeria’s crew about the stress they endure by walking down to the village with a heavy bowl of water on their heads.
There are two abandoned boreholes in the community, one constructed by a Corps member that served in the village and the other by a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO). When asked about the abandoned borehole, a community dweller, Francis, said: ‘’All these boreholes did not even last a year, the contractors did a shoddy project. We tried to maintain it, but water stopped coming out from the borehole. The other one built by the NGO was the first, but since the sumo spoilt, it was abandoned, we even tried to fix it but it got damaged more.”
Aside from the borehole, there are also two wells located at the centre of the community, one was locked why the other is attached to a newly built mosque. The Imam of the mosque lamented the rigorous process to get water during the dry season, he said all the water in the well will dry up and they will now be going to the nearest village to get water.
Mercy, a house wife said “Gaskiya, our problem in this community is drinkable water, even though we go to the stream to wash our clothes and fetch some to take care of house chores, to get a drinkable water is like war, there is a specific time they open the borehole, if you miss the time you will have to wait till the next day again.”
Talking about the health sector in the village, the head of the community, Chief Faga Hirinya, has been on the sick bed for months. His son, Francis Faga, said his father has been battling with stroke and diabetes.
He told PRNigeria that the stress of transporting him to ‘Waru’ Family care centre since that is the nearest one available .
Faga said “My father has been battling with stroke for more than 6 months now, initially, we resorted to local treatment, but we noticed that his health was deteriorating, so we quickly rushed him to Waru Family care center, he was admitted, they later discovered he had diabetes and was advised to treat that first before the stroke.”
He pleaded with the government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid as they had been abandoned to their fate.
The community has no primary health care centre, no pharmacy, though there is a private clinic that is not functioning. A visit to the clinic further exposed the plight of the community. It looks deserted as only one worker was outside sitting under a tree. Mr Elisha Godiya, who is the head of Nurse, said, they face many challenges like bad roads which deny them access to drugs for patients among other challenges.
Meanwhile, the Chief’s son Faga also narrated a funny story of a woman who went for delivery, after giving birth to the first child, she was discharged, unknown to the doctors she was carrying a set of twins. So she delivered the second baby on the road. He said things have gone so bad that they stopped patronising the clinic.
During the COVID-19 period, the villagers said they lost more than five persons to the pandemic.
“It was getting out of hand, people will just wake up and start throwing up, we suspected the water from the stream, and lack of Primary health care in the community contributed to why we lost many souls. Before we rushed them to Waru, the majority of them gave up the ghost.” Faga said.
He also said some government officials came to the village to inspect, after which they collected details of each member of the community. They promised to come back with relief materials and call the attention of government intervention, but nothing has been done.
Godknows Nyamvi is an indigene of Maraba Takushara, who is more educated and has more friends in the city than other villagers. He complained bitterly about the education of the children in the community.
“Since the incident of the kidnapping happened, many parents withdrew their little children from school, allowing only the adults to continue. And when it rains, the bridge between Takushara and Souka used to be overwhelmed with water, automatically, they will be cut off from the village that hosts the school.
“We have encouraged them to allow children to go to school, but 70% are still out of school due to insecurity,” he said.
The community decided to build a mini classroom, in the village and requested for the service of two teachers whom they pay. Children from 5 years below stay back in the village while children above go to the main school in Saouka.
Spokesman to Senator Aduda, Mr Joseph, was asked by PRNigeria if his principal is aware of the plight of the community, he replied by saying that “the Senator is responsible for his constituency projects, anything aside from this is not his business. The only thing he does is to carry out a project and hand it over to the community. Who manages it and how it ends up does not concern the senator. He can only provide projects to a constituency approved by the Senate. Anything outside this can not be accommodated.”
He was talking about the borehole constructed at the Souka village by Senator Aduda but which is too far for Takushara community dwellers to easily access.
The FCT Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) DSP Josephine Adeh was contacted by PRNigeria on the phone about the security situation of the village. She responded that Police is doing everything it can to reduce the crime rate in the city. She said there is a joint task force operation composed of the military, Police and other security agencies meant to fish out kidnappers from the city and the outskirts.
She also rolled out the achievements of the task force in apprehending some kidnappers at the Kwali Area Council and other parts of the Abuja metropolis.
All efforts to reach the Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello, proved abortive as his media aide, Abubakar Sani, did not respond to calls and messages sent to his phone.