By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
Seventeen indigenous chiefdoms in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, have alleged that the Nigerian government has marginalised them in the scheme of things, especially in the area of basic service delivery.
The Abuja chiefdoms said despite their support of successive governments, the authorities did not deem it fit to guarantee their rights to clean and potable water, access to basic healthcare and education as well as the sustainable exploitation of the environment.
The autochthonous communities spoke through the Agabe of Gwargwada, His Royal Highness Alhaji Husseini Agabi, on Thursday the Launch of the Project; ‘Promoting the Rights of Original Inhabitants of Abuja’ by the HipCity Innovation Centre with support from MacArthur Foundation and the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED).
Agabi noted that there was a sizeable number of indigenous communities who, according to him, were on the verge of extinction, because the people have been forgotten, neglected, and marginalized for so long.
He said, “We have been marginalised as autochthonous people of Abuja, and were are seeking for emancipation. For us to continue to live in peace, we need basic social amenities.
“We have practically been denied of necessities such as water, education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Today, about nine indigenous native tribes are not only marginalised but are going extinct.”
While calling for urgent action to reverse the negative trend, the royal father urged people to steer clear of violence and continue to live in peace with other tribes in the nation’s capital.
“Our emancipation won’t be through radical means, but through positive activism,” he added.
In his presentation, the Executive Director of HipCity Innovation Centre, Mr Bassey Bassey, explained that the project would demand effective and efficient delivery of basic services for the original inhabitants of Abuja whose land has been taken over by the Nigerian government and have been pushed into the hinterland.
According to him, “We have witnessed and observed government make failed attempts, to relocate and resettle the original inhabitants to new locations without the provision of basic services.
“Most original inhabitants communities in Abuja lack access to basic services and have lived in neglect, deprivations and marginalization for decades.
“All of these deprivations have been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 which has plunged the original inhabitants into multidimensional poverty.”
He, therefore, stated that the project will support local communities in holding the government to account in the delivery of basic services, seeking their inclusion in its plans and actions as well as demanding to be treated fairly and not as second class citizens.