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Unsung heroes of Abuja master plan

The International Planning Associates (IPA) was commissioned in June 1977, by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to produce the Abuja Master Plan and its regional grid. According to the terms of reference, the master planning process was to include a review of relevant data, selection of a capital city site, preparation of regional and city plans and the accompanying design and development standards manual. IPA was not in existence prior to the Federal Government’s resolve to engage a worldwide reputable firm for the production of the master plan. It was, therefore, formed by a consortium of three American firms in order to win the worldwide competitive bidding. After winning the bid and completing the project, the firms disbanded. The firms were Planning Research Corporation (PRC), Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd, and Archisystems (a division of the Hughes Organisation). The final report was submitted to the pioneer Executive Secretary of FCDA, Alhaji Abubakar Koko, on February 15, 1979. In the preface to the master plan, the following declaration was made by IPA: “The master plan for Abuja the new Capital City of Nigeria represents the culmination of 18 months’ work by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) board, several advisory panels consultants. Without the unstinting efforts of these experts, the momentum now exhibited at the beginning of the actual implementation of the new capital could not have been achieved. The plan itself represents a milestone in the process of building the new capital city. It is a necessary element in the monumental effort about to be undertaken by the Nigerian people.” As citizens of this great nation, most especially those directly or indirectly involved in this monumental project’s conception, planning and implementation; we must appreciate the exceptional feat achieved, and be proud of the actualization of the Abuja project, specifically, when we consider the situations in other sister nations desirous of creating or transferring their capital cities to new locations. Specifically, two of our sister African countries made declarations for the transfer of their capital cities, one of them even earlier than Nigeria, till date no remarkable achievement similar to that of Nigeria has been achieved. Looking back, 41 years after, despite the obvious challenges in the implementation of the plan, the mission can certainly be claimed to be fulfilled.

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