Fun seekers and residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have expressed worries over absence of Christmas trees and decoration at the Unity Fountain Park, one of the finest recreational ground parks for relaxation and family picnic in Abuja.
While Abuja is already radiating ambience comes with Christmas, with churches, shopping malls, major hangouts, hotels, bars, and office buildings decorated with Santa colours and decorations, making residents bask in the aura of the enchanting season of love, the centre created to be a site attraction and relaxation spot in the heart of Abuja, overlooking the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel and Millennium park, is bereft of excitement.
A photographer, Sadiq Omotayo, who has been visiting the centre for years, lamented the absence of beautifully mounted decorations or Christmas trees at the Unity fountain like it used to be in previous years.
According to him, public buildings like the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Arts and Culture, Garki, are already adorned with eye-catching decorations that come with the season, but entering the Fountain’s premise is different matter as the premises look deserted and untidy.
He said: “I am a Muslim, but I can tell you in all honesty that the celebration of Christmas and the fine decoration is appealing to everyone irrespective of religion. Last year by this time the Unity Fountain was already lit with the beauty that gives the city so much life.
“As a photographer, I should have been receiving calls from clients to take good photos of them with the Fountains’ scenery, but nothing of such is happening. I know this is not the best of times for the city of Abuja because of security challenges, but the decorations shouldn’t be jettisoned”
A trader and fun-seeker, who gave his name as Chinedu Uzor, also decried the poor maintenance culture of Nigerians.
“Take a good look at the Unity Fountain premises. It is looking so unkempt like an old primary school building. First of all, it is a huge dent that the Fountain is not even functional. Look how abandoned the huge generator that is supposed to power the Fountain is looking.
“I don’t see the need to even put Christmas decorations on a place looking this messy. The Unity Fountain is a perfect microcosm of the entire country. At least last year was better than this year. This is a huge space, capable of generating revenue if there was an infrastructural investment.
“People are drawn to aesthetics, everybody wants to snap and post themselves chilling in a beautiful place, but government will never look inward and be innovative. The whole fountain needs an entire overhauling.”
But the only cleaner on ground, who introduced herself as Priscilla, expressed hope that the centre will be fully decorated before Christmas.
She said: “I am surprised that they have not mounted any decorations. Last year before this time, everywhere was already radiating. I’m not sure but, I hope next week there will be decorations.”
For a civil servant, Philip Idara, there are more important things the FCT administration should be bothered about than Christmas trees and decorations.
He said: “I am sure there are many things the FCT administration is battling with and displaying decorations and Christmas trees shouldn’t be a top priority.
“A few months ago there was a security threat, and I’m sure money has been channelled to curb that. They are paying attention to other important things.
“This is not a time for merriment. It is a time for everyone to prepare, and go get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), so we can vote for a better government that will make Nigeria work again. That we are having this conversation shows how things have degenerated in the country.”
Another fun seeker, Sarah Talabi, who felt disgusted by the situation said: “Abuja is the seat of power for crying out loud. This is an eyesore. I am just coming from the United Kingdom and I can tell you that symbolically hangouts like this are given priority.
“I wasn’t in Nigeria for two years, but I saw pictures from my sister and it is so disappointing that nothing is happening here.
“This is Christmas, the end of the year, and everywhere is supposed to be glowing and radiating with the spirit of Christmas. I know it is borrowed culture, but cultures evolve, it is dynamic.
“This is who we are now and anything worth doing should be done well and excellently. How can the Unity Fountain be nonfunctional? We play a lot in this country. It is deep! It is embarrassing.”
A construction worker at a building within the premises, Ahmed Isah, blamed the situation on a lack of funds.
“There is no money, it has affected the running of the Unity Fountain. Sometimes, corporate organisations come to do the decoration, but we haven’t seen any yet. The FCT administration is out of funds and this has affected everything and the Unity Fountain is not left out of it.
“Maybe funds have already been disbursed for this and it has been diverted, but one can’t be completely sure.”
Reacting, a director in the office of the Minister of State, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, said there is collaboration with corporate organisations and government to decorate public places like the Unity Fountain.
He said: “ Due to scarce resources, the administration decided to write corporate organisations to decorate their adjoining streets as part of their corporate social responsibility.
“If you observe well, the Social Development Secretariat decorated the entrance of our office at Area 11 and the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Arts and Culture has a beautiful view at night as a result of the secretariat’s effort. We are hopeful that the Unity Fountain too will receive such attention from corporate organisations.