Abuja is a city that eats up the poor. It is, however tendentious, a city that is naturally selected for the rich. The high prices of basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing attest to the “patrician caste” the city is.
Abuja is ranked the second most expensive city in Africa and the eighteenth most expensive city in world. Bearing this in mind, it is therefore not surprising if the poor who have been attracted by the opportunities in the city scrounge to survive.
Abuja being the dome where power resides draws all to its belly- both the rich and the poor. And the major challenge those who have found a resting place in it face is paying unfairly high house rents.
The truth is, paying rents for shelter in Abuja can be a very difficult thing to do because most of the jobs the city offers do not pay much.
Our correspondent went round the city to feel the pulse of residents regarding the rents they pay for shelter and their steady increase.
Here are the opinions of some Abuja residents on house rent in the city.
Iheoma Okulum, 29; a banker who lives at Wuse 2
House rent in Abuja is very high, in fact, too high. I pay 1 million naira for a self-contained room where I stay. I pay other bills too. At the end of the day I do not have anything left to save. It is terrible. Please tell the Minister of Abuja to do something about the high rents for shelter. It is sad.
Godwin Samuel, 46; a civil servant who lives at Karu
My brother, the situation is very bad. I pay seven hundred thousand naira for a two-bedroomed apartment at Karu. I have four children; all of them attend different schools. How do I get the money to take care of them? Before I moved into my recent apartment, the rent was five hundred thousand naira. After a year, the landlord increased it to seven hundred thousand, and said anyone that did not comply with the new arrangement should vacate the building. I do not know where we are going in this Abuja. Things are becoming very expensive. As a civil servant, I cannot just move all my family to the village, if not I would have done that.
Olayemi Balogun, 35; a businessman who lives at Maitama
As for me house rent in Abuja is above the means of the common man. When compared with Lagos, Abuja is extremely expensive. I pay 3.5 million naira for a two-bedroomed apartment at Maitama. Even though I can afford to pay that much, it is still very high. Who are we going to cry to? We just find a way to cope. That’s it.
Musa Halidu, 30; a trader who lives at Lugbe
The truth is high rents for accommodation in Abuja is a perennial challenge. It has been so since the city started to grow. I cannot afford to pay the high house rents that is why where I stay there are three of us sharing the same one-bedroomed apartment. We contribute money at the end of every year to pay our rent which is three hundred thousand naira. There is no power and water. We just find ways to cope with the challenges. The government is not doing anything for us. It is really bad.
Mrs Ifeoma Agu, 40; a teacher who lives at Gwagwalada
The problem of high house rent is the same thing in all parts of Abuja. My family and I lived at Kubwa before. My husband’s business failed so we couldn’t afford to the pay the rent of six hundred thousand naira. We moved to Gwagwalada because we thought it would be cheaper for us to get accommodation there. However, we got a three-bedroomed apartment for two hundred and fifty thousand naira, but there was no water in the house. In fact, we seldom have power. Abuja is really difficult to live in.
Labake Ayeni, 31; an event planner who lives at Apo
All I have to say is it is too high. It is beyond our means. The government should come to our aid. We are suffering. Every year landlords increase house rent. Nobody cares, we are just suffering.
Chizoba Obi, 28; a journalist who lives at Wuye
The government has already told us that Abuja is not for everybody. So they don’t care if we sleep on the streets. We need a people-oriented government. That I believe is the answer to the challenge of criminal rents charged by Abuja landlords.
Having heard from some Abuja residents, our correspondent poised to know why house rent is very high in the Federal Capital Territory decided to speak with a property agent.
On why it is expensive to get decent accommodation in the capital city, Christian Odoh a property agent explains:
The reason it is expensive to get accommodation in Abuja is that there are too many people and very few vacant houses. Abuja is growing very fast and more people are coming in daily. The available accommodation cannot contain all the people that are coming in, that is why landlords charge high rents. Only those who can afford to pay the high rents move into the few vacant houses.
Asked if there are regulations determining the rents, Mr Odoh said: No, it is a free market. If you don’t like a house or if you cannot pay the rent, you look for another one, simple.
Attempts to get the FCTA authorities to comment on the issue were not successful.
As it is now, Abuja residents continue to groan under high rents for shelter, and no one seems to be paying attention to plight.