Traditional rulers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have bemoaned the indifference of successive administrations to indigenes’ agitations since 1990.
The monarchs questioned why the Federal Government has found it difficult to designate an FCT indigene as a minister or elevate Abuja to the status of a state, allowing the people to enjoy the rights and advantages that come with it.
They expressed their concerns at a National Dialogue on the Rights of FCT Original Inhabitants held over the weekend in Abuja by the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Education (CHRICED).
The event, titled ‘Building Resilience, Fostering Recovery: FCT Original Inhabitants and the Struggle for Justice,’ was part of activities commemorating the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which takes place tomorrow.
The Ona of Abaji, Alhaji Adamu Yunusa, Chairman of the FCT Council of Traditional Rulers, decried the non-recognition of indigenes in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and urged the government to be fair to all.
The monarch, represented by Mansur Sule, requested that FCT indigenes be treated equally with other Nigerians.
“The giving of our ancestral land to the government is notable for the unity of the people and the peaceful coexistence of citizens, but we do not receive equivalent recognition from the country.” The people must do us justice in order for us to be granted our rights. We simply want to be treated the same as any other Nigerian. “It’s past time they give us our due,” he stated.
Alhaji Shaban Audu, Etsu of Kwali, stated that indigenes had made significant sacrifices for the FCT, and that what they needed was equal opportunity.
“We’ve made a lot of sacrifices.” “While we remain grateful to the government for certain things done, more needs to be done for the people’s socio-political growth,” he said.
According to Ibrahim Zikirullahi, Executive Director of CHRICED, the injustices endured by indigenous peoples may persist due to the actions of selfish politicians who gain from the current system.
He stated that the government must address the plight of the indigenous peoples in order to avert a breakdown in peace and order in the capital city.
“FCT natives made significant sacrifices to make room for Nigeria’s capital.” As a result, the government can no longer ignore the indigenous inhabitants’ voices. They are landless, have no representatives in the federal cabinet, and, of course, their children have no place to call home. They have faced discrimination for a long time.
“We are assisting them in reawakening their voice and bringing their concerns to the attention of the government and the world community.” They are conducting their case legally and quietly, which may be why the administration is not listening. We are asking the administration that it should discuss and negotiate with those who are not aggressive and unholy. It’s past time they listened to the indigenous people.”
Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), pushed for the original inhabitants’ political, economic, and cultural rights.
Nwadishi also stated that the 1999 Constitution Review conducted by the National Assembly would have been a perfect occasion for the 9th Assembly to etch their names in gold while discussing the history of the FCT.