Abuja natives under the aegis of Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), have called for restructuring of Nigeria, insisting that they were neither part of the north or south of the country.
President of the OIDA, Pastor Danladi Jeji, disclosed the stance of the natives at a town hall meeting by FCT Natives at Apo, Abuja on Saturday. “OIDA stands for unity of Nigeria. However, that unity is situated in the belief that we can as a nation correct the systemic paralysis that has stunted the growth of the country hence recent calls for dismemberment of the country. Our stand for unity is not to be taken for weakness but we do this in the belief that peace costs nothing but buys everything hence Nigerians can gain more through dialogue rather than an insurrection or armed struggle against the state,” he said in a statement.
According to him, the natives have suffered several injustices, therefore the need to restructure through devolution of powers by according the FCT status of a State with its own governor and other appointees. “Restructuring based on devolution of governmental powers from federal authorities to Abuja city authorities is what we ask for. We no longer want the present military contraption where a minister is appointed to run the Federal Capital Territory like a barrack or cantonment. We no longer want a city-centred minister that focuses on developing elite districts while satellite towns and rural areas suffer. To do this, we must change the Constitution to reflect our wishes for a modern and cosmopolitan capital city. Thus, OIDA and other like-minded groups have submitted memoranda to the constitution review committees of the National Assembly asking for these powers to be immediately transferred to Abuja natives and residents, if indeed we practice democracy.”
Jeji said it was untenable for the president to appoint a minister to administer the FCT when a competent court had declared Abuja a State, and should be treated as such. “The courts have ruled (see OKOYODE vs FCDA) that indeed the Federal Capital Territory is “a state” like the other thirty six states of the federation as captured in Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution, yet we are surprised that the Federal Government only gives it the interpretations of the court only when it comes to accessing monies from the federation account but when it comes to governance and political structure, Mr. President will refuse to devolve his powers or recognize the court rulings and interpretation.
“OIDA believes that FCT is a state, in accordance with court rulings. We have therefore canvassed and would continue to canvass for Mr. President to surrender his powers to a democratically elected Governor of FCT while he focuses on more critical national issues. We also want the National Assembly to hands off its legislative duties to an FCT House of Assembly as it is apparent to all discerning Nigerians that it cannot continue to play a dual function of legislating on national and municipal issues at the same time. FCT judiciary must also fall in line by being handed to a state-like judicial structure and administration.”
The OIDA president stressed that despite “the failure of the federal government to resettle, relocate and compensate our people at the initial cost of N2.8 billion naira in 1978 has led to several policy summersault but despite all the challenges, we are still here and we are not prepared to go anywhere, for we own the land.”