It is becoming clearer that the more in the hole shortchanged and dispossessed Nigerians fall, the more their greedy leaders dig deeper for them. And now the great question of this age is, how deeper can Nigerians go and for how long will Nigerians remain economic pawns of the ruling class?
The FCDA desperately wants to turn Abuja into a modern city overnight. But a city can not develop more than the people. A city reflects the station in life of the inhabitants. Therefore, Abuja can never be a modern city until the lives of the residents are enhanced. Because, people can not afford some thing as common as a bottle of water, they will continue to drink pure water and lither the city with the packs. Because, thousands of Abuja residents sleep in cars, keke napeps, and makeshift accommodations, they will continue to defecate into the canals and urinate on the streets since the FCDA can not provide urinaries like in London, Berlin or New York, yet it wants to levy charges for parking as in those cities.
Those expected to feed fat from it say the revenue from the car parking charges will be used to maintain the infrastructure and create jobs. Of course they have to fathom a sort of justification for this illegality. But we have heard this many times before. Each time the leaders want to unnecessarily add to the yoke of Nigerians, they always say that infrastructure will be improved and jobs will be created. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that the several times he withdrew the petroleum subsidy. At the end, the infrastructure decayed instead and unemployment rocketed to unbearable levels. The gains from those withdrawals ended in private pockets.
Where is the money the FCT makes from tickets sold to vehicles entering into Abuja markets. The last time I calculated, from the Garki 2 market alone, the FCDA makes over N1000 every minute and at least N240.000.000.00 a year. Can the FCDA that claims it wants to use the planned parking charges for the good of all account for the money that has accrued to it via market vehicle tickets? I have my doubts. So what is the guarantee that the car parking charges will also not go down the same drain?
In any case, as I have said, Abuja is neither London, Berlin, Paris nor New York. Besides, has the FCDA cared to know how much people pay to park cars in those cities. Even if, for academic purposes, I concede that Abuja is ripe for such levies, N100 an hour is too exorbitant in a country where the minimum wage is about $100 a month.
The problem with Nigeria is that we like to count ten before we count one. I have said several times, that for us to advance as a nation, we need to learn how to start things from the scratch. Europe and the rest of the western world did not wake up one morning and started charging its citizens for car parking. For a country that is yet to address the legitimate yearnings and aspirations of its people, there is no moral authority to impose such fantastic levies on its people that are struggling to give to themselves the basic things of life denied them by their country.
How can people pay for parking in a city that is still being swept with broom? Each morning as I jog I see those helpless women sweeping dust into their lungs to keep Abuja clean. The money earmarked for cleaning Abuja is enough to buy state-of-the-art cleaning vehicles and machines, but our callous leaders will rather pocket the money and endanger the lives of those women because of their ever increasing insatiable needs.
I just hope that those at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Transportation Secretariat know what they are doing. I am not really sure if they could introduce the parking charges by mere executive order - without the backing of law. This is because the order infringes on rights and freedoms entrenched in superior laws. And also because the order is economically oppressive and will cause Abuja residents pecuniary burden. The FCDA as creation of law must abide by law.
The automated car parking charges schema is a clear case of unfair imposition of the turgid wish of a few on the ordinary many. It will only enable our vampire leaders, in collaboration with ever ready business predators, to suck more blood from a blood-drained populace. It is another milk straw nudged into the cash cows called Nigerians, and those at the FCT Transportation Secretariat and whoever directed them to start the system know that nothing will happen. Is it not Nigeria?