Natives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have called on the 10th National Assembly to prioritize the interests of the indigenous people of Abuja in order to put an end to their prolonged suffering.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Danjuma Tanko Dara, an elder statesman and prominent stakeholder of the FCT, conveyed this message on behalf of the natives. While congratulating the newly inaugurated lawmakers, he urged them to listen to the grievances of the indigenous people.
Dara expressed deep concern over the prolonged neglect suffered by the indigenous people under various governments. He emphasized that it is high time for the government and the National Assembly to address the needs of the original inhabitants of Abuja.
He called upon the 10th National Assembly to recognize that the indigenous people of Abuja have ancestral rights to their territories and have inhabited the land for centuries. According to Dara, the land holds great significance as their livelihood, dignity, and pride, having been cultivated and cherished by the indigenous people.
However, Dara pointed out that in 1976, the history of the original people of the FCT was distorted and disrupted due to the relocation of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja by the military government.
“This significant move resulted in substantial changes in the social structure, land ownership, control, and management, as outlined in the military decree 6. These changes have had a lasting impact on the past, present, and future of the indigenous peoples of the FCT,” he stated.
Dara emphasized that the indigenous peoples of the FCT comprise nine distinct ethnic groups, each with its own culture and civilization, which continue to face various existential threats. Therefore, he urged the presidency and the National Assembly to consider the rights of the natives within the larger context of a national issue that requires immediate resolution.
He appealed to the National Assembly to pass a bill that ensures the integration of the original peoples of the FCT into the local and national framework of economic, political, and social development. Dara also called upon the 10th National Assembly and the federal government to grant proper recognition and representation to the ancestral landowners in the FCT, providing them with a sense of belonging. Furthermore, he strongly opposed any form of unconstitutional governance and abuse of power.