…pass FCT Indigenes Resettlement Bill for second reading

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to prioritize the construction of perimeter fence for the Federal University of Technology, Owerri in the 2023 Budget estimates.

It also urged the federal ministry of education and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs to commence immediate demarcation of the land area covering the university community through fresh survey plans and other geophysical activities to halt further encroachment.

The House further urged the government to collaborate with the Imo State Government in the drive to promote good neighbourliness amongst the university community and the original landowners through proper land identification and demarcation.

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The resolution followed the consideration of a motion titled “Need to Construct Perimeter Fence at Federal University of Technology, FUTO, Owerri”, presented by Hon. Paschal Obi at Tuesday plenary.

In his motion, Obi noted that the elegance of a teaching and learning environment such as a university community draws largely from a secured, protected, preserved environment and a good landscape.

He said that a university in the 21st century desirous of positive global acknowledgement and endorsement, must in addition to the pursuit of academic and technological excellence, be committed to the security and serenity of the university community and its environment. 

“The Federal University of Technology, Owerri pioneered the existence of such Federal Universities of Science and Technology in Nigeria as established in 1980 by the Shehu Shagari Administration.

“The Federal University of Technology, Owerri, has in its existence, championed exceptional advancement of knowledge of Science and Technology with global partnership and collaborations.

“The increasing cases of hostilities arising from land demarcation and other boundary challenges between the University Community and the host communities of Ihiagwa, Eziobodo, Obinze and Avu, are consequences of the absence of a beautifully secured environment through perimeter fencing with the attendant security challenges on the Staff and Students as well as on teaching and learning.

“Hostilities and insecurities have remained in the increase in the last twelve years due to struggle by the original land-donors to reclaim part of the areas of the land for agriculture and other purposes, including building residential houses”, the lawmaker said.

Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committee on Tertiary Education and Services to ensure the  implementation of the resolution.

In a related development, the House passed for second reading a bill seeking to establish Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Compensation Resettlement and Welfare Board.

The bill when passed into law will ultimately raise funds to resettle all original inhabitants occupying developed areas within the territory.

Titled “Bill for an Act to Establish the FCT Compensation, Resettlement and Board With the Primary Aim of Raising Funds to Resettle All Original Inhabitants Occupying Developed Areas Within the FCT and also for Further Resettlement Projects and for Related Matters,” it was sponsored by Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi (APC, Nasarawa).

In his debate on the general principles of the bill, Gbefwi explained that the bill will also address the challenges being faced by the relocated indigenes of the FCT.

“Hon Speaker, distinguished colleagues, FCT Compensation, Resettlement and Welfare Board chaired by an Indigenous extraction, representatives from the 6 Area Councils in the FCT and representatives of the indigenous Traditional Council who are knowledgeable and familiar with the challenges of compensation and resettlement In the FCT can proffer a lasting and permanent solution to the issues. 

“The Board will conceive, plan and Implement, In accordance with set rules and regulations, projects and Programmes of the FCT Aborigines in the area of Agriculture, Education, Scholarship, Health and Environment. Identify factors Inhibiting the development of such areas and artist In the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure some and efficient management of resources. 

“The Board is to assist the department of Compensation and Resettlement to ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilized and execute such other works and perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Board, are required for the sustainable all round development of the rural areas and its people”, Gbefwi.

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