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By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

Traditional rulers in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to accede to the call for the restructuring of the country, saying it was borne out of real and perceived marginalisation of different ethno-religious groups.

They spoke at a National Dialogue on Indigenous Rights in Nigeria, organised by the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Education, CHRICED, in Abuja, weekend.

The dialogue, themed “Building Resilience, Fostering Recovery: FCT Original Inhabitants and the Struggle for Justice” was part of activities to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which comes up tomorrow.

Speaking at the event, the Ona of Abaji, who doubles as the Chairman, Abuja Council of Chiefs,  Adamu Yunusa, called for political and economic restructuring in Nigeria to make room for inclusive governance, justice and development of all parts of the country.

According to him, doing so will effectively address the agitation for the inclusion of the original inhabitants of the FCT in governance and decision making.

He said:  “The donation of our ancestral land to government is remarkable for the unity of the people and the peaceful co-existence of the citizens but we are not seeing commensurate appreciation from the country.

“The people should do us justice to see we are given our rights. We just want to be treated like any other Nigerian is treated.  It is high time our right is given to us.”

Similarly, the Etsu of Kwali, Shaban Audu, who noted that the indigenes had sacrificed a lot for the FCT, said what they needed was equal opportunity.

“We have sacrificed a lot. Though we remain grateful to the government because certain things had been done, more needs to be done for the socio-political advancement of the people,’’ he said.

Executive Director of CHRICED, Mr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, called for a robust representation of the indigenes in the core governance structures responsible for service delivery.

He said:  “The FCT indigenes made enormous sacrifices to provide space for Nigeria’s capital. Therefore, the government can no longer ignore the voices of the original inhabitants.”

Zikirullahi, therefore, called for prompt action by government to address the plight of the indigenes.

Executive Director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy, CTA, Ms Faith Nwadishi, advocated the political, economic and cultural rights of the original inhabitants.

Nwadishi also said the 1999 Constitution Review process carried out by the National Assembly would have been a golden opportunity for the 9th Assembly to edge their names in gold, when the history of the FCT would be discussed.

Secretary, Garki Traditional Council, Lazarus Nyaholo, called for more of stakeholders’ engagement in re-echoing the demands of the indigenes.

“We don’t want resettlement, we want to be integrated into governance,” Nyaholo said.

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