•Residents turn homes to farmhouses citing economic hardship
From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Some residential areas in Abuja are wearing new looks. Not the astonishing looks of modernity, but one depicting lack, economic hardship and medievalism. They have lost their serenity, tranquillity and sanity.
You now see goats, sheep, cockerels, guinea fowls and other domestic animals competing for space with humans and generally defacing areas strictly mapped out for residential proposes.
Owners of these animals insist cohabiting with them is a desperate attempt to eke out a livelihood, especially now that the prices of animal protein have attained stratospheric heights. However, they are mindless of the associated health hazards as the animals, reared at their backyards, are either sold during celebrations or eaten as a source of protein.
From Lagos Street, through FCDA and 2:2 areas of Kubwa, many beautiful compounds are operating farmhouses and disturbing the neighbourhood with the acrid smell of faeces and urine of the ruminants.
This is aside from the nauseating noise pollution from the animals that bleat day and night; just as the cockerels crow uncontrollably every minute. The same scenario obtains in Lugbe, Bwari, Jabi and other parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At Share close, Kubwa, the buildings do not give any visitor the faintest hints of the possibility of ruminants cohabiting with humans.
But then you are assailed by the foul smell akin to what obtains in remote villages where the absence of basic infrastructure has forced villagers and their domestic animals to live harmoniously.
Although no law in the FCT permits the rearing of animals in residential areas, defiant residents insist the disobedience to the law is purely a survival strategy, having succumbed to economic pressure.
A Kubwa resident, Hassan Mahmoud, said: “We have been pushed to the wall by economic challenges. We have a family house but we have two tenants occupying the boys’ quarters.
“We have some space and decided to rear a few goats and sheep to keep the body and soul together. We are a family of six kids and our parents are retired and most of us are in school.
“The prices of beef and chicken in Abuja in recent times are beyond the reach of the average man and they are not about to crash.
Residents cannot fathom how the situation got terribly bad but they have created a lifebuoy for themselves. We’ll sell these animals to help ourselves.”
Asked whether it was not against the FCT law to rear animals in strictly residential areas, he said: “We are not the only ones rearing animals in Kubwa. It is everywhere. These goats and sheep you see on the streets are from some homes. They are not stray animals. They have owners and at night, they retire to the homes that own them.
“We saw people do it and we followed suit. Some are breeding dogs on commercial scale. Nobody considers that an infraction. Are chickens, goats and sheep not part of domestic animals like dogs? So, why do people not raise an eyebrow about dog breeding?”
“We take good care of our animals. We vaccinate them. We clean their manger and fumigate the entire compound regularly. We also live in the same compound. I don’t think any of us has any diseases.”
Another resident of Share Close who preferred anonymity lamented: “I don’t sleep at night. These animals bleat ceaselessly. The dogs bark endlessly. But the offensive smell is my biggest headache. I can’t open my windows. I can’t soak in some fresh air because the horrible odour oozes in to hurt you.
“This is where I miss former FCT minister, Mr Nasir El-Rufai. He enforced all laws to the letter. FCT worked well under him. But now, FCT is collapsing quickly. Animals everywhere. This is the real zoo.
“It has become so unbearable. I am helpless. Are others living in compounds that breed ruminants? As far as I am concerned, an epidemic looms here. I can’t wait to pack out of this environment next year. I did not know such a mess existed here when I inspected this apartment before moving in. I just can’t stay. My wife throws up almost every time she perceives the foul smell of faeces of these ruminants. I have gone to the authorities but nothing has happened.
It’s hell here.”
Amaka Ude, resident of Kubwa: “Are people aware of the concomitant health hazards at all? Rearing animals in a residential area is a grave infraction.
“Culprits should be visited with the crushing weight of the law. You can’t open your windows even when the weather is hot and there is no electricity. It is worse than a prison experience.
“Going home after work breaks my heart. I spend weekends in Gwarinpa. I can’t afford to be assaulted by the offensive odour in my compound that I am paying N700,000 per annum. It can kill. This development is totally unfair.
“The smell is actually from the compound overlooking ours. My bedroom window is next to that fence. My house stinks like a piggery. We have written to Abuja authorities. I hope something positive springs up.”
So, what are the authorities doing about this horror?
An official of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), who craved anonymity, told Daily Sun: “The FCDA section of Kubwa is designated as solely residential area. You cannot rear animals here.
It is prohibited.
“If anyone sees such, kindly write to us and give us the detailed address. We will serve that compound a notice. After five days, we return to monitor compliance.
“If the order is still not carried out, we have other procedures to follow. But eventually, we will get an order to forcefully evacuate the animals.
“Anyone claiming he wrote to us and nothing happened is lying. We follow up on all complaints swiftly and efficiently. We ensure the law is enforced.”