Indigenes’ Resettlement: FCTA, original inhabitants disagree
By Ben Adoga
The issue of resettlement and compensation of natives in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, became clearer this week when a sharp disagreement between the FCT Administration and various groups of natives, popularly known as original inhabitants, including their politicians and elected representatives ensued.
At the maiden edition of the town hall meeting which was held in the VIP Wing of International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja, the government reiterated their commitment to resettlement policy, but the natives rejected the policy and opted for reintegration.
In her presentation at the meeting, the FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, expressed the determination of the Administration to resettle the indigenous communities with a view to realizing the dreams of the founding fathers of Abuja.
According to Dr. Aliyu, “We recognize that it is incumbent upon us to resettle and compensate these indigenous communities where the implementation of the approved development plans demands such. Once we do that, we can be on our way to the emergence of Abuja as envisaged by our founding fathers, a city in which livability standards are comparable to those in any capital city in the world, and the sanctity and well-being of all and sundry is guaranteed by a just and equitable governance system.”
However, in sharp contrast, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda condemned removing natives from their locations and replacing them with other Nigerians, a situation he described as “terrible.”
Senator Aduda argued that the policy of relocation and compensation was no longer feasible as he insisted that “What we want, if you cannot adequately compensate us, integrate us. We are empowered enough to build the kind of structures required in specific locations of Abuja.”
Speaking further, he alluded to the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act which three percent has been allotted to host communities and therefore questioned, “What percentage of land in FCT is given to us, the hosts?”
Earlier, Ezekiel Dalhatu, Federal Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission, representing FCT during his presentation itemized the preference of the natives.
Dalhatu rejected relocation of the indigenes on the grounds that it was an obsolete idea and maintained that the natives’ chiefdoms were being distorted and that there were no farm reserves in the resettlement locations as well as inadequate financial compensation for land.
He also stated that the FCT Master Plan is equally obsolete and needed review given modern reality and population explosion.
Also, in a presentation entitled: “Joint Presentation by the Association of Abuja Indigenous Community Based Organizations and Coalition of Stakeholders, the indigenes demanded that the “Government to fully jettison the resettlement policy and replace the same with integration. The planned resettlement of the Abuja natives to give way for other persons to take over their ancestral lands should be stopped as they are also good enough and prefer to stay where they are. The government should therefore integrate the communities into the Abuja Master plan and create basic infrastructures in the communities.
“The government should simply convert the communities into decent living areas that can even attract tourism as the heritage and traditions of the people would have been saved and preserved.
“The entire land presently being occupied by each community, an extra portion for their natural development should be clearly surveyed earmarked as community land within which no developer is to encroach and all allocations within such parameters ought to be revoked to give way for the development of the Abuja Village.”