As Nigeria joins other nations in celebrating the 2022 edition of Indigenous Peoples Day, the cry of the FCT’s first settlers yearning for justice came to the fore. How plausible is this argument? Written by ELEOJO IDACHABA.
In 1999, in one of his famous presidential media chats, Olusegun Obasan thundered with his usual serious look that he was first and foremost an “indigenous people” of Ogun State before becoming a citizen and president of Nigeria. It was former president Joe.
He was responding to questions posed to him against the backdrop of what was seen as his biased appointment to the Cabinet.
While it wasn’t the first time the word “indigenous” was heard, it set the tone for public discourse as all Nigerians, regardless of their current place of residence, are indigenous to a particular region. It was no surprise that Nigeria joined the rest of the world on 9 August 2022 for the 2022 edition of Indigenous Peoples Day. This is because in today’s Nigeria, the original inhabitants/indigenous peoples of the FCT, also known as Ghazi, are crying out against what they call governmental alienation of them. , and how FCT natives have responded to the government’s allegations over the years, differing opinions on the subject are subject to analysis.
While this year’s celebration focused on the role of indigenous women in the transmission of local knowledge, the territory’s original inhabitants at various forums marking the day said they They took the opportunity to focus their narratives on what they called ‘, alienation, exclusion,’ part of what they’ve been through since the territory was carved out in 1976, they noted.
According to them, their rights as human beings have been consistently trampled on by successive governments and settlers who broke several promises. His one of those broken promises they recall was made in his 1976 by the late General Murtala Muhammad. It has not occurred. While this claim may sound plausible from their own perspective, in the courts of public opinion, as research shows that much has been done to compensate those displaced from their territories. I cannot accept it.
According to Mrs. Hadiza Amos, a Gbagyi woman, the story of Gbagyi being marginalized in general is not entirely true when put in the right context.
“It amazes me that the Bazi inhabitants of the FCT only talk about themselves as if there is no Gbaji in Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa and indeed Kwara. I am from Niger. As I speak, we are the largest part of the Siloro and Kuta regions of Niger and Sreja.
“The Gbagyi narrative about marginalization is the brainchild of some selfish Gbagyi leaders in the FCT, and their sense of entitlement to land and other interests within their territories fills the noise we often hear about marginalization. The reason is, the leaders called the young people and advised them to refuse their homes so they could give them more money, but where is the money today? Did you remember your fellow brothers in other states? almost attacked me, let the Nigerians tell you how much the Nigerian leader has received from the government since the compensation started behind the scenes almost 10 years ago. Siblings are generally Gbagyi’s problem because of their selfishness,” she said.
But this reporter’s investigation reveals the disappointment of the indigenous peoples to the extent that none of the promises made by the government have been fulfilled. Just as they accused the government of abandoning them in a state of exclusion from the land. decision-making in the country.
Prince Gubaiza, national coordinator of Nigeria’s Greater Gbaji Development Initiative (GG-DIN), stressed that the Bazi heritage should be done because leaving nothing to the people would result in extinction.
He said, “The Gubaji people have become enemies of each other. , that’s why our politicians can be killed and heaven hasn’t fallen, that’s why our homes are demolished, our land is seized without compensation, and heaven can’t cry. Do these occur in the Niger Delta, any of the southeast, southwest, or northern states?
Mr Gbaiza emphasized that the Gbagyi people are known to be hardworking and basically farmers, but that despite their hard work, the hard work failed to lift the people out of poverty. pointed out.
“Education, the gateway to success in life, is a mirage among the Gubaji people as their children learn under tough economic conditions. , men in Gbagyi cannot afford the cost.Our children, especially those in Abuja, are competing with world standards for their environment.They drop out of school due to lack of sponsorship. Parents have failed for obvious reasons, and government has failed us at every level.”
As a result of these uproars, human rights groups have called on the government to listen to the cries of the FCT’s former residents and ensure that their problems are addressed. A group called the Resource Center for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has worked with other organizations and private companies to build institutional programs and financial management capacity for her FCT Indigenous Peoples to address alleged marginalization. I’ve been A major aspect of the program is the internationalization of stories.
According to CHRICED, low awareness of the alleged wrongdoing has resulted in little support as a way to seek redress.
This isn’t the first time CHRICED has come out to address what it sees as injustice to indigenous peoples in the FCT. The 2021 World Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations equally condemned continued marginalization, even as they condemned the government’s disobedience to court orders that were supposed to address some of the injustices suffered by people. Did.
Addressing journalists to mark the day, the organization’s executive director, Ibrahim Jikirulahi, said most of the original residents live in extreme poverty. According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari will go down in history as a leader who has done a great deal of injustice to the FCT Indigenous peoples if he resigns without addressing the cries of the Indigenous peoples.”
In response to all this, Abdul Ghatha, an indigenous Gbaji tribe who resides and practices law in Abuja, denounced several flaws in the constitution that he observed.
“Several aspects of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, are implicated as one of the main causes of the perpetuation of these longstanding injustices that FCT Indigenous Peoples have suffered over the years.
In particular, section 297(2) of the Constitution states that the ownership of all land contained in the Federal Capital Territory belongs to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but the same Constitution does not apply to persons formerly living in Nigeria. I didn’t mention it. We will land before the capital comes,” he said.
He noted that many indigenous peoples interpreted the silence to mean that there were no indigenous peoples in the area before the government acquired the land in the territory.
“Also, the way they perceive Article 299 as constitutional is quite unsatisfying, because the provisions of that aspect of the constitution apply only to the Federal Capital Territory, as if its territories were federal states. legislative, executive and judicial powers.In the FCT, all such powers are vested in the National Assembly, and the President, through the minister in charge of the territory, has the authority to exercise routine powers within the territory. In a nutshell, the time has come for the first postulated mayoral position in the region.”
In Nigeria, research has shown that there are no tribes with controversial indigenous status in the country, except for the original indigenous people of territories whose indigenous status has changed significantly due to the relocation of the capital from Lagos to Abuja. However, according to Sheikh Obasanjo, all Nigerians belong to tribes and come from corners of the country before obtaining full Nigerian citizenship.