Back at independence, Nigeria thought to move its capitol from the overcrowded, costal Lagos to a central location that would give planners a clean start and appease the major ethic groups in the country. From this desire, came the Federal Capital Territory which hosts Abuja, Nigeria’s new capital.
Like Washington, DC, much thought and planning went into making Abuja, FCT a model city. Because of this, and a few other factors, I’ve come to enjoy Abuja – one of my African favorites – while also recognizing that when there, I live the “Abuja Bubble” lifestyle.
Why it’s the “Abuja Bubble”?
Open Roads: If you’ve ever been caught in a Lagos Go Slow, you’ll love the big, wide streets of Abuja, open to easy diving. In fact, Abuja drivers actually follow traffic laws – shocking but true. Of course this is achieved by both banning mopeds and tightly regulating drivers.
Green Space: Many African cities are defined by high population densities – people building and living on every square inch of space. In Abuja, there are parks, lawns, and trees everywhere. Its almost suburban in its green space. An easy result when you plan the city and push squatters, slums, and anyone unable to afford the astronomical rents out past the city borders.
Cheap Transportation: When everyone lives outside the city, you have to offer cheap transportation options for them, and so buses, taxis, and the like are much cheaper than other cities. As a foreigner, you still have to bargain hard for local price, but at least you can come close to it.
Street Food: With the many ethnicities in Abuja – both Nigerian and international – the food options are amazing. But its the local street food that really stands out, especially the Hausa night markets and nearby fish markets. The street food tastes even better after your wallet is scorched by the crazy-expensive restaurants – on par with Washington, DC prices.
No Generators: While the rest of Nigeria is deafened by generators belching pollution, Abuja actually has a functioning electrical power grid. So rather than hearing generators come on every few hours, the city is humming with movement, not frustration with NEPA. For this, I have no answer but the obvious – its the national capital.
But hey, these are just my reasons for the “Abuja Bubble” – what are yours? And do you think the Abuja Bubble is better than the Nairobi Bubble in East Africa?