LUGBE: THE OSHODI OF ABUJA
Looking at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its surrounding communities, the saying, in Things fall Apart, the epic literature by celebrated author, Prof Chinua Achebe, will come to mind. Achebe had said, in Things Fall Apart, that looking at the mouth of a king, one would not know that he ever sucked his mother's breasts.
Taking a cue from Achebe, one can also say that looking at Abuja, with its splendour one will never believe that around it is squalour and poverty. Such surrounding suburbs, like Kubwa, Lugbe, Maraba, Gwagwalada, Jabi, and Karimu tell this story.
Indeed, Lugbe is a study in sociology. Right from the gate, one will notice a beehive of activities comparable to a large market. In the early hours of the morning, the open space, at both sides of the road, provide opportunities for traders to make quick money. Here, vegetables, fruits, tomatoes and pepper, among others are hot cakes.
It is not only traders that are in business here. Others, who do one thing or another, eke out a living. Those who fetch water, called Mai ruwa, in local parlance, are all over the place, supplying water to both residents and food vendors. The commercial motorcycle park is always busting at its seams, with passengers coming in and leaving town.
Fast food business is also thriving, just as the dry meat sellers, beans cake and yam dealers are holding sway.
A man, who identified himself as Aliu told Saturday Sun that the area turned into trading centre gradually. He said that it had started as a joke. He, however, said that the ban of commercial motorcycles in Abuja cause the inflow of people to Lugbe.
Said one resident: 'These areas were covered with long trees to act as shed and also beautify the environment. Gradually, the trees started disappearing, when more people began to come here and with time the trees completely vanished. People simply cut them at night during incessant periods of scarcity of kerosene.
'When the minister chased us away, we found out that this place is nearest to town and it was not affected by the hammer. We hurriedly settled here. That is why we have a large number of commercial motorcyclists. After that, most people selling different things came here and before you know it, it has become a major trading centre. Some rich people and many middle class people live here and most of them work in the city centre.'
It was observed that traffic is high in the morning and evening due to the construction on the expressway.
At night, Lugbe reminds one of Oshodi, in Lagos, where the only word understood by people is business. At night, assorted wares are on display, be they clothes, Chinaware, torchlight, banana, DVD and CD.