Democracy Day: There is no democracy in FCT, natives say

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As the nation celebrated Democracy Day yesterday, the natives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said they had nothing to celebrate in the day because democracy does not exist in the territory.
In an interview with Blueprint yesterday, the President of Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), Pastor Danladi Jeji, said if other Nigerians had something to celebrate about the 15 years of the current democracy, Abuja natives did not have.
His grouse was that they are not being treated like citizens from other parts of the country.
According to him, apart from the myriads of other pressing issues that needed to be addressed in Abuja, the absence of second tier of  government makes democracy totally non-existent in the territory.

Jeji noted that the second tier of government was where true democracy is embedded in the country’s system of government, hence lack of it in any part of the country put government’s claim of democracy into question.
“We the original inhabitants of the FCT are not celebrating the Democracy Day. It is the People who have democracy in their land, even without it making much impacts on them, that are celebrating.
“We don’t have democracy in Abuja. So, nothing is there to celebrate. As far as Nigeria’s system of government is concerned, the real democracy or government exists only in the second tier of government, and we don’t have it here. As we don’t have it, we don’t have democracy in Abuja,” Jeji complained.

He challenged other Nigerians to reason with the natives on the discrimination and injustices meted on them since 1978 when the nation’s capital was relocated to their land and pressure the government to start treating them judiciously.
“Every Nigerian should know that in the about nine hundred thousand (900,000) square kilometres of the country, the people living in about eight thousand (8000) square kilometres are facing injustice and violation of human rights of the highest degrees, so the government must be compelled to address the plights of these people.
“Nigerians show solidarity whenever fellow citizen are not rightly treated; the people of FCT need the same solidarity to compel the government”, he said.

The president added that the ongoing national conference could play a pivotal role in addressing some of these issues.
“It would be a shame on this country if the ongoing national conference does not help in addressing these issues. It stand on the right position to recommend constitution ammendment in which the issues would be addressed headlong,” he added.
When contacted, Barrister Musa Salihu, one of the representatives of the FCT at the confab, said the demands of the natives had been submitted at before the committee On Political Restructuring and Forms of Government, with some of the recommendations agreed upon, some reduced and some thrown out.

Salihu said they had recommended for the separation of the territory into FCC, which would be headed by an elected Mayor, and FCT, which should be headed by an elected Administrator. The latter was not accepted by the members of the committee.
He said they had recommended for the number of the Areas Councils to be increased from 6 to 10, but 8 was what the committee eventually agreed on. The territory has only one Senator. Salihu revealed that two more Senators were recommended but the committee threw it out. Eight House of Representatives seats were recommended; the committee agreed on four.

The territory has two House of Representatives members in persons of Alhaji Isah Dobi and Zaphania Jisalo. It is surging in population daily; the Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed recently placed the population to be above five million.
Similarly, the issue of land compensation is set to be addressed by the confab. Our correspondent learnt that it would be recommended to the federal government as well as FCTA to promptly pay all the outstanding compensation involving the natives and no land should be taken before the payment of compensation in the future.

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