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By Victor Akaa

Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, the administrative capital of the most populous black nation on earth, is also the indubitable hub for recreational activities in the country. The capital city houses several recreational spots that offer entertainment, relaxation and economic activities, among others.

One of the significant recreational spots in FCT is the famed Jabi Lake. The Lake which covers a surface area of about 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) is presently in deplorable condition.
A man-made water body, the lake was initially conceptualised and created primarily to provide water to the residents of Abuja but the plan was dropped when the Federal Government built the Lower Usuma Dam Water Treatment Plant in 1990 to feed Abuja and environ.

The Lake and its surroundings offer a range of leisure activities such as boat riding, horse riding, playgrounds for children, and relaxation for adults.

In 2007, former President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated the surroundings of the Lake and called it Jabi Lake Park with a resort where social activities are held.

Unfortunately, the reservoir suddenly became a mere fish processing hub due to its current deplorable state and neglect.

The once picturesque oasis now suffers total neglect: seaweeds and other marine plants have taken over the water bodies; its surroundings bushy and unkept, making it lose its natural appeal.

Jabi Lake’s enchanting beauty and potential to become a thriving recreational spot are almost lost owing to its deplorable condition. The once beautiful lake is now marred by pollution, dirty waters, illegal encroachment, inadequate infrastructure and absence of desired government attention.

It is no brainier that the lake, if adequately developed, has the potential to compete with some well-known artificial lake parks in other parts of the world. The Park could be developed to a level that it can compete favourably with recognised ecotourism sites such as the one in Goyang City, South Korea, which has a lot of ecotourism attractions such as water, trees and flowers where people can interact with nature. The tranquil surroundings and breathtaking views make it an ideal place for people to unwind and connect with nature, providing a much-needed escape from the fast-paced city life.

With the right interventions, Jabi Lake can be transformed into a thriving recreational hub, offering a range of activities such as boating, fishing, picnicking, tourist activities, and water sports and could also attract foreign investments, boosting vibrant economic activities in FCT.

Therefore, a need for a comprehensive facelift to unlock the full potential of Jabi Lake is not just desirable, but an urgent necessity.

Now that the current leadership of Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ‘Renew Hope’ mantra has come on board, it becomes pertinent for the Ministry of the FCT under Hon Nyesom Wike to expeditiously revamp the Lake to attract social and economic activities.

Government should as a matter of urgency consider addressing the following concerns:

First of all, attention should be paid to environmental conservation to preserve the ecological balance of the Lake in order to avoid pollution is crucial; there’s need to implement effective waste management systems by way of treating sewage before it enters the Lake; controlling chemical discharge to restore the sanity of the water and its quality is a must-do.

Additionally, reforestation and shoreline protection measures must be undertaken to combat erosion and maintain the natural beauty of the surroundings; clearing the marine plants grown on the waters will restore the beauty and dignity of the Lake.

Equally important is the improvement of infrastructural development around Jabi Lake; this is crucial in enhancing its accessibility and usability. The development of well-maintained walking paths, cycling tracks, and scenic viewpoints will not only encourage more tourist activities but also attract investment and engage more people in recreational activities. Constructing proper restroom facilities, waste bins, and seating areas will further enhance the comfort and convenience of visitors.

Further more, building more recreational amenities that will transform the Lake into a vibrant recreational destination should be top on the agenda. It is essential to introduce various amenities such as designated picnic spots, playgrounds, and designated areas for water sports to cater to the diverse needs and interests of visitors.

The inclusion of cafes, restaurants, and shops will provide additional attractions and create opportunities for local businesses to thrive.

There’s also the need for the government to encourage community participation by creating community-driven initiatives, such as volunteer clean-up programmes and educational campaigns on environmental conservation, which will foster a sense of ownership and pride among the residents. This will most definitely ensure the sustainability and long-term success of Jabi Lake’s revitalization.

Jabi Lake possesses immense untapped potential, hence the need for urgent government intervention to resuscitate it to its original plan to encourage more investments.
If government interventions address the challenges of pollution, improve infrastructure, and provide recreational amenities, the Lake can become a vibrant hub for the residents of Abuja, attract investors, boost tourist activities and enhance the economic activities of the FCT.

A revamped Jabi Lake will not only benefit tourists but also enhance the quality of life for residents, creating job opportunities and improving businesses.

Conclusively, Jabi Lake’s current deplorable state is a call to action.
Government as a matter of urgency should give it a much-needed facelift, to unlock its true potential as a thriving tourist destination and a recreational haven in the Federal Capital Territory. There ought to be a collective need to preserve the Lake and enhance it by, creating a sustainable and vibrant space for a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Victor Akaa writes from Abuja

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