Natives of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja have described as “provocative and a questioning of our Nigerian citizenship and identity” in President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to include any of them in the 43-man ministerial list sent to the National Assembly for screening and confirmation.
Recall that last year, the natives said they had a Court of Appeal ruling directing that a ministerial seat be given to them. Abuja residents had voted for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, a situation that made President Muhammadu Buhari to refer to them as a necessary evil during a visit, shortly after the elections.
In a statement jointly signed by Danladi Jeji and others on behalf of several indigenous groups in the territory and released in Abuja on Tuesday, the FCT natives described the continued exclusion of the people as an affront to their citizenship within the Nigerian federation even as they urged the National Assembly to democratise the system of governance in the capital territory by stripping itself of its powers as State Assembly for FCT and also stripping the President of his powers as Governor of FCT.
“We find the non-inclusion of any FCT native on the 43-man ministerial list released by President Buhari on Tuesday as provocative. Are we not citizens of Nigeria? Why have we been continuously left out of having a representative in the federal executive council? If the list was extended from the usual 36 to 42 and now 43 ministerial nominees, shouldn’t we have a slot? Why do some states have more than one or two slots?” Jeji questioned in the statement.
The FCT groups said they were solidly behind the lawmakers representing the FCT: Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda and the two House of Representatives Members: Hon. Micah Jiba and Hon. Hassan Usman Sokodabo; and that they had mandated the federal lawmakers, after series of meetings, to raise the issue of the exclusion of Abuja natives from the ministerial list on the floors of the Senate and House at Wednesday’s plenary.
“We will no longer take lightly the continued marginalization of FCT natives in a territory hosting the capital city of Nigeria. Our lands have been taken forcefully from us without the federal government following proper constitutional provisions or the Land Use Act and now our dignity is being taken away from us as Nigerian citizens. We condemn this attitude by the Nigerian government and urge the international community to intervene in our current statelessness,” the FCT group said.
Seeking urgent constitutional reforms to correct the lacunas and discretionary interpretation of Sections 299 – 302 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Abuja natives tasked the National Assembly to democratise governance in FCT by allowing for the establishment of a State House of Assembly, an Executive office for the administration of FCT (Governor/Mayor howsoever called), and increase the number of Senatorial districts, House of Representatives constituencies and more Area Councils.
“We are asking the President to relinquish his powers as Governor of FCT and the National Assembly to also relinquish its powers as the House of Assembly for the FCT to the original inhabitants and residents of the Territory so that they can freely elect those to govern them directly rather than the indirect rule presently obtainable in the military contraption presently obtainable in the FCT.” Jeji said.
The FCT natives said they would have no choice than to “seek recourse to the United Nations in light of the pervasive oppression of FCT original inhabitants in our ancestral homelands to assert our universal right in a formal petition to the United Nations General Assembly” if the Federal Government continues to make them stateless and deprived of the benefits of citizenship in the Nigerian federation.