Locals and citizens of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have started a platform dubbed “Mandate FCT 23” in an effort to alter the perception of the territory’s governance.
The populace’s interests will be advanced, and it will be made sure they gain from democracy.
The campaign’s convener, Danjuma Tanko Dara, said during a press conference held to announce the movement that it was time for FCT natives and residents to take charge of their future and guarantee that the long-standing marginalization of the people came to an end.
He said that the reason for the movement which is first in the FCT is to change the narrative of governance in the territory and ensure that the people start benefiting from democratic dividends as the country transits from one democratically elected government to another in 2023.
“We formed this platform for the advancement of residents of FCT Abuja called ‘ MANDATE FCT 23; to unite the residents and indigenous people of Abuja, for all of us to come together and ensure that democratic structures are put in place in Abuja.
“We have observed that lots of damages are worked out against the old residual since the inception of Nigeria’s democracy. To the extent that somebody that does not reside in Abuja or votes in Abuja will be appointed as Minister of the FCT overnight by the president.
“At the end of it, he controls the revenues accruing to the FCT unchecked and unquestioned. The person also claims and controls the management of all our ancestral land, a development result of which he takes advantage to seize and develop community lands in the name of FCT.
“In doing all these injustices, the affected people are not compensated, while the administrations continue to demolish the houses of Nigerians who struggles and worked hard to earn the money to build those house, and the administration takes over their land and develops it for strangers,” he said.
Dara said that such misgovernment of the people must stop, that the indigenous people will prefer a true and transparent structure of democracy in Abuja, and that if for no reason, it is appropriate to have that as a sitting Home of the president.
He also said that the Mandate FCT 23 platform would address the continued marginalization of natives of FCT, saying the federal government had done nothing to stem the rot.
“As we have always said, it is one of the many contradictions of the Nigerian situation that the natives, whose lands were parceled out under Decree 6 of 1976 to make room for Nigeria’s capital city, are being neglected and treated as second-class citizens, right in their ancestral homelands.
“It is very painful that the natives who made enormous sacrifices to give Nigeria its center of unity have been rendered stateless and left to wallow in despair and regret while being faced with prolonged marginalisation from the government.
“A visit to our communities from the façade of the supposedly beautiful Abuja City Centre would reveal the sordid underbelly of the deprivation the people are subjected to for those who cannot connect to the stark realities of deprivation being suffered by the natives of the FCT.
“A visit like this would expose the reality of communities without potable water, adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and dilapidated health and school facilities. The reality of the FCT is worsened by the lack of robust representation in the core governance structures responsible for service delivery,” he said.
Dara said that the move would also push for democratically elected leaders to govern the FCT, lamenting that unlike other Nigerian citizens in various states who have the right to vote for a governor and a State House of Assembly, the FCT Original Inhabitants do not have such a right.
“It is worth noting that, over time, the natives have done everything they could to highlight these obvious issues of discrimination and entrenched injustices that the natives of the FCT face in the political system operating under the 1999 Constitution. The FCT natives made enormous sacrifices to provide space for the nation’s capital.
“Therefore, the State can no longer ignore the voices of the natives, who have been voicing concerns about their neglect and deprivation for years. Nigeria must remember its commitment under its own Constitution and international human rights instruments to consider and promptly address the plight of FCT natives.
“For the fact that the FCT natives have faced marginalisation and exclusion for decades, addressing their issues requires collective efforts, support, and solidarity that is why the Mandate FCT 23 platform is very important before the 2023 general elections. In many other parts of Nigeria, there is a profusion of issues of indigenous rights, which in some instances have had far-reaching implications for the stability of Nigeria.
“One of the unique qualities of the FCT natives is the fact that they have always relied on peaceful, and lawful approaches to get their voices heard. For this reason alone, the authorities ought to listen to their plights and ensure they have a reprieve. It is important for the government not to give the impression that only the violent and unruly can get their attention and have their issues addressed,” he said.
He further said that the platform is registered and that the members will be meeting with political aspirants who are contrasting to manage affairs with offices in Abuja.
“The platform is open and ready to evolve all residents of Abuja, we advise all Nigerians residing in Abuja to partake in this common cause to ensure sanity in the people’s mandate here in the capital city. We are calling for individuals to join and register their names in the platform to share the most peaceful path for actualization of democratic structures,” he said.