Having beautiful gates to cities is as old as written history.In ancient days city gates were built for two major reasons: to identify the people and their beautiful craftsmanship; to serve as shield against invasion by enemies.
However, since modern wars are no more fought by axe and spear carrying tribesmen on horsebacks, city gates have become more a sign of wealth, craftsmanship and beautification.
Many ancient city gates, especially those of the Mediaeval Ages (complete with moats), are now in ruins. Yet, they attract tourists as their history remains.History has it that about the most gated city in the world is Jerusalem – “a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam”.
Jerusalem is also one of the most invaded cities in history. Hence, its walls and gates are defensive devices.”During the era of the crusader kingdoms of Jerusalem, there were four gates to the Old City, one on each side.
“The current walls, built by Suleiman the Magnificient, have a total of eleven gates, but only seven are open.”Until 1887, each gate was closed before sunset and opened at sunrise,” says an archival source on Jerusalem – a city holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam..
Among the most known city gates today are The Roshnai Gate of Hazuri Bagh, Lahore, Pakistan; the Bab al Yemen of Sana’a in Yemen; and the 750-year-old Amsterdamse Poort of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Therefore, when news of a planned rebuilding of the Abuja City Gate got to the public, nobody raised any serious objection because awareness on the economic value of such projects are now widespread.
According to analysts, besides edifying the nation’s capital city, the proposed Abuja City Gate, when completed, is expected to be a tourist attraction of world class – an international landmark.
They say that although, the gate may not have the status of the London Tower or the New York World Trade Centre (WTC), it is expected to be close to them in comparison.
To the analysts, tourism is assuming a trend of diversification.
They say the tourist tradition featuring natural phenomena such as the spectacular sights of mountains, rivers and rocks, is fast expanding its horizon to man- made architectural designs of imposing status.
The world famous Egyptian Pyramids; the Suez Canal; Eiffel Tower; Statue of Liberty; the highly captivating designs in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, especially the symbolic Black Stone; The Great Wall, etc, are all man-made master pieces.
They have joined the naturals – the mountains, waterfalls, stone formations, etc – in becoming tourist attractions and sources of revenue to their landlords.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCTA), Mr Mohammed Alhassan, the planned Abuja City Gate is intended to be of international standard. Alhassan spoke recently at the public unveiling and exhibition of the wining entry for the international architectural design competition of the project in Abuja. He disclosed that the project was monumental and had attracted bids from international construction companies.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Adamu Aliero said the proposed Abuja City Gate “will be a unique landmark of international recognition.
“The FCT Administration has allocated 40 hectares of land for the project to be sited about 700 metres away from the alignment of the regional road FCT105 (the present Kuje road junction) and 24.7km from the existing city gate along the airport expressway as contained in the Abuja Master plan,” he said.
According to Aliero, the new city gate may qualify for listing as a world heritage site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). He is optimistic that the project would be a success and able “to draw from the world heritage funds for purposes that will include its maintenance”.
According to Aliero, the project is designed to portray a symbolic gateway to Abuja City in particular and indeed the Nigeria nation.
“The objective is to create a unique landmark to serve as a reference point to our collective existence and showcase what every Nigerian can be associated with”.
The city gate is also expected to boost employment generation. This is in that the FCTA plans it to be an all-inclusive edifice with commemorative, tourism, recreational and commercial functions that would need many hands.
In line with the face of the Yar’Adua administration and a component of the 7-point Agenda, the project is to be a public/private partnership (PPP) investment. Consequently, analysts say it is not expected to float with changes in government policies or the lack of continuity that had been the graveyard of many such ambitious projects in the past. They are optimistic that it would not just be self-sustaining but would make good returns for its inventors. Observers, however, implored the FCTA to ensure that the proposed Abuja City Gate is indigenous – truly Nigerian.
They say it should make use of local materials in its construction and evidently show “the unity in diversity” that is the music and toga of the Nigeria nation. (NANFeatures)