FCTA insists on demolition

By Favour Nnabugwu

The optimism of Abuja indigenes to have their villages transformed and integrated into the Abuja Master Plan under an urban renewal programme is fast turning into a nightmare. Disagreements over compensation and resettlement of the indigenes  by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) have resulted in a number of protests and court cases.

The Department of Resettlement and Compensation  of the FCTA, charged with the responsibilities of policy formulation, guidelines and implementation of resettlement schemes and the payment of compensation, works with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Development Control and Land Administration with three divisions: Valuation and Compensation; Planning and Resettlement and Monitoring and Logistics.

The most recent in the league of compensation and resettlement were Apo, Galuwyi/Shere and Wasa.
The director of resettlement and compensation at the FCTA, Mr. Kenneth Okechukwu, who had always sued for peaceful resolution of every dispute pertaining to compensation and resettlement, said that the FCTA had done its best to resettle and compensate the original land owners in the city and should be commended rather than chastised.

He said the cost of building those three resettlement projects at Apo, Wasa and Galuwyi/Shere stood  at N10.5billion while infrastructure  such as road, electricity, water, clinics, schools, market and motor parks gulped N5billion.

He assured that no house of original inhabitants would  be demolished until they were resettled.  He, however, admitted that the department was aware of the numerous complaints from the indigenes and that it was working hard to address genuine concerns of the people. “I don’t think there is need for introduction of violence or for them to be threatening violence because that could be an indirect way to intimidate the FCT to do what is not proper,” Okechukwu said.

He said that N2.6 billion was spent on the Apo housing project, while N6.1 billion and N2 billion was spent on the Shere-Galiwyi and Wasa projects respectively.

According to the director, “The Apo resettlement houses are ready, while those in Shere-Galuwyi and Wasa has  recorded over 70 percent completion”.

Okechukwu said that the FCT indigenes along the Airport Road will be relocated to Wasa community, and advised the FCT Gbagyi indigenes to embrace dialogue, patience and understanding to move the nation forward.

He said, “The resettlement of the original inhabitants of Apo has commenced in earnest in Apo resettlement site. Also there are 877 houses meant to accommodate the original inhabitants of Garki, Akpanjenya and Apo villages.

“The Galuwyi/Shere resettlement site is meant to accommodate 12 communities of Jabi Samuel, Jabi Yakubu, Utako, Kpadna, Mabushi, Gishiri, Kado 1 and II; others are Magajipe, Zhilu, Maje etc.  The progress of physical construction work is at 75% completion covering an area of about 9,000 hectares of land.  The buildings are expected to be in a neighbourhood system where each neighbourhood is expected to retain its traditional institution as well as chieftaincy allegiance.
“The next one is Wasa resettlement scheme which is expected to accommodate original inhabitants along the airport axis.  These are Karomanjiji, Kuchingoro, Chika, Aleita, Piwoyi.  The progress of work is about 56%”

He said the department had carried out a good number of relocation of inhabitants in Kuchiko, Gidan Mangoro, Pegi and Yangoji.

Kuchiko, he said, is a relocation scheme meant to accommodate squatter settlers from Jabi Samuel, Jabi Yakubu, Maje, Utako, Kpadna, Majajipe, Mabushi, Gishiri etc.  Kuchiko is located in Bwari just after Law School whilst Gidan Mangoro is meant to accommodate settlers from Angwar-Mada behind Mogadishu Barracks formerly known as Abacha Barracks.

Pegi situated in Kuje area council will on the other hand  accommodate squatter settlers from Jiwa Chiefdom within Kuje Area Council of the FCT while Yangoji  situated within Kwali Area Council will take care of squatter settlers from the Airport axis of Chika, Aleita, Piwoyi, Kuchingoro and Karomanjiji.

Aside the disagreements surrounding compensation and resettlement, FCTA has its hands full as thousands of property owners in Abuja stand the risk of having their hard earned properties demolished.  The FCTA  Development Control Department has lined up 19 communities for demolition. Those affected in the communities are the ones that erected illegal structures in Idu, Karmo, Dape, Tasha, Gwagwa, Saburi, Zauda, Jahi and Gishiri, while other areas include Mabushi, Mpape, Kuchigoro, Chika, Aleita, Piwoyi, Lugbe, Pyakassa, Tudun Wada, Dei-Dei and Guzape.
The department said there  was no going back on the decision to embark on massive demolition of illegal structures in the communities  before the end of the year.

Meanwhile youths under the aegis of Joint Youth Indigenous Communities of Apo Resettlement Site, at a recent press briefing, urged the FCDA to revoke all commercial plots in the resettlement area meant for indigenes or face unpleasant action from the community.

Christopher Zaka, who spoke on behalf of the youths, explained that their threat  was borne out of the failure of the FCTA to settle the problem faced by the resettled indigenes.  He wondered why the FCDA also allocated parks, gardens and plots to individuals that are not indigenes and called on  government to revoke those allocations.  In addition, the youths  demanded cash payment for crops, economic trees and replacement of farmlands to farmers in the communities.
Those evacuated in the 1980s to give way to development of Usuma Dam, Wuse, Maitama, Three Arms Zone, Central Business Area and Garki, according to him,  are wallowing in worse forms of poverty in Ushafa, Kubwa and New Wuse.

We in Greater Gbagyi Development Initiative (GG-DIN) and Alubu Peoples Rights Initiative (APRI), on behalf of indigenous people of the FCT, hereby cry out to your  excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to rescue  us from a prolonged structural and systematic impoverishment, disempowerment and potentially annihilating scheme, “Zaka said.

“He continued: Since 1976 when our ancestral homelands were sacrificed for a befitting federal capital worthy of the pride of all Nigerians, we have borne huge amounts of inexplicable deprivations of our rights arising from policy inconsistency and failures as well as urbanization and in-migration. All of these have reduced our settlements  to slums and decapitated our livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

“We had hoped that by providing this model of peaceful, patriotic enduring response rather than the popular options of unleashing retaliatory violence, serial sabotage and even organized criminality in compelling acceptable resolution of community-government differences and disagreement over the unjust acquisition or use of people’s resources for national development; we would be much appreciated and handsomely reciprocated”.

“It has been so worrisome to observe and most difficult to douse the pulsating restiveness amongst our youths who watch as their ancestral lands are being decimated, forcibly taken away and merchandised to other Nigerians to erect mansions or selling them for millions of Naira.

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