The Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), a registered FCT socio-cultural group has embarked on a village-to-village and town-to-town sensitization in the 858 communities spread across the thirteen chiefdoms and six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory as part of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution,a press release by Danladi Jeji ,President, OIDA said.
OIDA in partnership with the Alliance for Credible Election, ACE kicked-off the event at Gwargwada town in Kuje Area Council at the weekend.The first phase of the sensitization took the OIDA/ACE team from Gwargwada chiefdom to Rubochi, Abaji and Dangara communities.
At Gwargwada, the team was received by the Agabe of Gwargwada chiefdom, Alh. Ibrahim Dagbo Ugbada, his Chieftaincy council and village heads who welcomed the team and promised to help sensitize their subjects on the demands of FCT original inhabitants.
Earlier in the day, OIDA President, Danladi Jeji, had informed the traditional ruler that they were on a mass mobilization campaign to help create awareness on the demands of the FCT indigenous people for a special state status for the 6,000sq. km FCT; mayoralty for the 2000sq. km FCC and additional senatorial districts, federal constituencies and local governments.
Jeji said the FCT as it is presently constituted is a military contraption foisted on Abuja’s indigenous people and called for the democratization of governance in the Territory so that FCT indigenous people can have a second-tier system that will allow for the election of someone in the capacity of a governor of a state in accordance with Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution.
“This sensitization is basically to let the original inhabitants of Abuja to be united, to come together and remember our old days where the Gbagyi, Gade, Ganagana, Koro, Gwandara, Amwamwa, Gbari, Bassa and Egbura lived in unity even before our land became the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. When Abuja, FCT came into existence in 1976, our people accepted it with jubilation and rejoicing believing that the federal government will listen and help develop us and our lands. But after 36 years, we now know better as the system instead of developing us has rendered us stateless, hopeless, laughed at and scorned at by other tribes in Nigeria. As a development organization, we have taken it upon ourselves to enlighten FCT indigenous people that the time has come for the country to remember us in the Constitution being reviewed by giving us our own form of government where we can elect our people to represent us at the executive and legislative levels like other Nigerians. We no longer want to remain stateless or denied educational, political, socio-economic and development opportunities again.”
Another member of the OIDA team representing Zuba chiefdom, Mallam Jibrin Mamman said “our lands have been taken by the authorities and some private developers who are constructing giant estates all without compensation or resettlement as prescribed by Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution. You know that when our lands and farmlands are gone then it means our people have been left in a hopeless situation with no means of survival. Poverty is at an alarming rate, as our people have no other alternative. We are sensitizing our people to help them stand up for their rights and be given what is due to them as promised by the Nigerian government 36 years ago but which remains unfulfilled.
A community leader in Gwargwada, Mallam Habis Ugbagade also thanked the team for taking out time to reach out to the communities. Members of the chiefdom also pleaded with FCT authorities to provide potable water, electricity and soft loans to women for small and medium scale entreprises.
Secretary General of the Alliance for Credible Elections, Mr. Emma Ezeazu said the organisation was partnering with OIDA to help Abuja original inhabitants, as their case is that of “abandonment, neglect and failure of promises by the Nigerian government. ACE is partnering with OIDA to help create awareness and bring government attention close to neglected FCT communities.”
The team later visited the palace of the Chief of Rubochi and the Ona of Abaji but both chiefs were said to have travelled out of town. However, sensitization pamphlets, letters, posters and other materials were delivered to palace officials for onward distribution with the promise that OIDA will return.
OIDA/ACE also visited Dangara town along the Abaji – Kwali expressway to commiserate with the community whose traditional ruler died a week ago.
Some of the demands by the Abuja indigenous people includethat the territory should be divided into two with “special state” status for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a Mayoralty for the Federal Capital City (Abuja city centre); that the Constitution should provide for the office of a democratically elected Governor for the FCT who will be elected by the indigenes/residents to govern the Federal Capital Territory; that there should be established for the larger FCT a “Federal Capital Territory House of Assembly; that two (2) additional Senatorial Districts should be created for the Federal Capital Territory; that not less than four (4) additional Federal Constituencies should be created for the Federal Capital Territory; in amendment of Section 147(3) of the 1999 Constitution, that a Minister shall be appointed from FCT indigenous people into the Executive Council of the Federation; that Eleven (11) additional Area Councils should be created in the FCT and that a Mayoralty system of city governance should be created for the Federal Capital City (Abuja city centre) from where the President can appoint a Mayor for the city from among an elected Mayoralty Council which shall be from all Nigerians resident within the city alone.