Indigenous people of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are presently gnashing their teeth as they lament decades of marginalisation by the federal government which have tossed them into abject poverty.
The largely-peasant farmers groan over non-existent infrastructure like access roads, schools, electricity, potable water, sound healthcare and other basic social amenities befitting of a geographical space that hosts the seat of power.
Declaring themselves as the most cheated people in Nigeria, the FCT indigenes have called on relevant authorities to come to their rescue.
They said their nightmares climax at rainy seasons when their roads are totally impassable for vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles; a development that has fueled armed robbery, kidnapping, robbery and other criminal acts.
Speaking at the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) programme aimed at promoting inclusive governance through civic engagement, a religious leader Rev Thomas Bako from Yimi community under Gwagwalada Area Council said their horror demands drastic, swift and multi-stakeholder solutions.
He said, “Before we communicate with our representative, it is very difficult. You go to their offices, they will say you should come another day. We are peasant farmers. How will you keep spending transport to visit someone’s office that doesn’t care about you?
“The roads are bad. Accidents take place everyday. You hear a contract is awarded, if you go to the site, nothing is done in that area. Some communities can only be accessed in the dry season.
“Even the kidnappers and bandits are not afraid of the police nor the army. If you arrest them, the army and the police will free them. It is only the vigilantes that are doing well but they have not been empowered”.
Bako demanded that the next FCT Minister be chosen from the indigenes or people who have spent a lot of years living in Abuja and understands the sufferings of the people.
He stated: “We are the most cheated people in Nigeria. We do not have the opportunity to choose our own Minister. It will be better for us that an FCT minister is appointed from the indigenes who knows the pains and problems of the people. I don’t know why we keep getting ministers from Bauchi. If you say FCT is for everyone, if you cannot appoint an FCT indigene why not appoint someone from the south-east or from the south-west?
“If you go to some communities, you will think you are no longer in Abuja. No single evidence of civilization. The Minister does not know that most of these places exist. That is why we need an indigene as a Minister who knows the nooks and crannies of the FCT and what each community’s most pressing needs are”.
Bako further raised concerns over employment racketeering in the country, saying it is based solely on favoritism and not competence.
“Go to the schools, no teachers. Anything you say, they will be haunting you. There is a lot of rubbish, corruption, nepotism going on everywhere.
“The Abuja at 30 community is even better because they have educated people. If you reach Tunga Hawa, they can’t come out in the rainy season until the dry season. You won’t think these people are in Abuja,” he lamented.
He alleged that some titled chiefs in some villages are part of the communities’ problems as they have been heavily bribed by politicians; hence they dissuade those wishing to escalate the obvious challenges to the relevant authorities from doing so.
On his part, Dr Jamberlang Ray from Buzumkure community in Kuje Area Council said some of the local government chairmen were not accessible.
“You can’t even know where they sleep. You can’t even access the local government chairmen. To see some Senators is easier than to see a local government chairman in the FCT. They have ways of sneaking out of their houses and offices. So, you can’t even see them to complain to,” he added.
The event was a series of community engagements held between September and October this year and the PPDC has unveiled interesting findings on citizens’ expectations regarding service delivery.
These engagements were conducted in Six communities (Karon- majigi, Yimi, Buzunkure, Ijakpada, Abaji, and Apiawoyi) across the six area councils in Abuja.
PPDC assessed the current levels of citizen participation in the six communities, developed a set of brief recommendations for more effective engagement to improve citizen participation and by extension improved service delivery.
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