President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to consider the appointment of an indigene of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as a cabinet minister.A constitutional lawyer, Musa Baba-Panya, made the call on Wednesday in a statement he released in Abuja, following the recent minor cabinet reshuffle. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) President Buhari, on Sept. 1, approved a reshuffle in the cabinet.
The president had dropped the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Sale Mamman.While the president is yet to appoint a replacement, he redeployed two ministers to assume offices in the affected ministries.Baba-Panya, a rights activist and an indigene of FCT, said it was time to bring this to the President’s knowledge that there was an outstanding issue yet to be resolved in the country.The lawyer, who recalled that the imbalance started since 1999, said the present government inherited it.“
But President Buhari can do something about it and this is the time to do it as he considers cabinet reshuffle because this issue did not arise today. “We have genuine grievances.“We have kept peace, we have been very peaceful and we have chosen the path of the Rule of Law, not resulting into violence.“
We have not violently agitated. We went to court and the court gave us judgment.“It is our constitutional right belonging to all 208 million Nigerians.“This is the voices of 2.5 million indigenous people; that is over one per cent of Nigerian population.“We are talking about a voice, a constitutional right which is invaluable. We cannot quantify constitutional right,” he said.Baba-Panya appealed that just as the president addressed the injustices of the past like the June 12, 1993 Election, he should address their demand.“
Apart from the fact that the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on Jan. 15, 2018, gave a judgment in our favour on the need for a ministerial appointment and the legal status of FCT -ABUJA to be a state in accordance with the provisions of the law.”
The Supreme Court had also on March 13, 2020, in the case of BAKARE vs. OGUNDIPE (2021)5 NWLR (pt. 1768)SC.1 vindicated us on the legal status of the capital territory, putting an end to the hitherto lingering controversy,” he said.
He added that the Senate, on behalf of the Coalition of FCT-Abuja Indigenous Associations, also “passed a resolution that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should appoint a minister to represent FCT-Abuja in the Federal Executive Council (FEC).”“The FCT-ABUJA indigenes demand equality and justice, which we are entitled to under the constitution,” he said.(NAN)