The original inhabitants of Abuja have said there’s nothing to celebrate about the appointment of former Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike as minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to the Abuja indigenes under the aegis of the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), FCT should be given the status as provided in the constitution, which is statehood not any ministerial appointment.
Speaking against the backdrop of the reaction that has trailed the emergence of Wike as FCT Minister in a telephone interview with THE WHISTLER on Tuesday, the President of OIDA, Pastor Danladi Jeji, insisted that the FCT does not need a minister but rather, should be given a state with an indigene as governor, like the 36 states in the country.
He noted that there’s nothing exciting about Wike’s emergence adding that OIDA was not impressed with the excitement surrounding the appointment.
Recall President Bola Tinubu on Monday sworn in Wike and 44 others as ministers to finally form his cabinet.
Wike, who assumed office at the FCT Secretariat shortly after the swearing-in vowed to carry out demolitions in order to restore the Abuja Master Plan.
His insight into his agenda for Abuja in the next four years immediately set the social media on overdrive with divided opinion.
Jeji however said the Indigenes were less concerned about Wike and his demolition agenda arguing that no state was jubilating over any ministerial appointment.
“Among the 36 states, there is no state that does not have a minister. Did you see any state jubilating because of a minister? Why would you want to know the feelings of the FCT indigenes about the appointment of a minister?
“The Constitution says that the 36 states should have ministers because they have governors and the Constitution is saying that our governor is President Bola Tinubu and he has given us a minister for the FCT.
“We were not consulted. How do you want us to feel about it? The problem is that the elites feel that here (FCT) is a free land where they can take whatever they like.
“The Constitution said we (FCT) is a state; so where is our governor? All the ministers in the Federal Executive Council report to their governors. So Wike is going to report to which governor in the FCT?
“Section 147 of the Constitution said an indigene of that state should be the minister,” Jeji said.
Faulting the 1999 Constitution for making the President of Nigeria the governor of the capital territory, he insisted on constitutional review to address the ‘anomaly’.
“What we want is constitutional review. Correct the Constitution. Which Constitution anywhere in the world makes the President the governor of the capital territory? There is no Constitution like that anywhere in the world.
“The President should not be the governor of the FCT – let the people of the FCT have their state and their own governor.
“The court has ruled that the FCT is a state so the President can’t become the governor of the FCT.
“Let the people of the FCT have a state so we can produce three senators and members of the House of Representatives, and we will not have to jubilate that one of us has been appointed a minister because the governor of the FCT will nominate ministers, just like other state governors.”
THE WHISTLER reports that the FCT natives attempted to alter provisions of the constitution towards establishing an Office of the Mayor for the FCT, and ensuring the appointment of an indigene as an FCT Minister but were unsuccessful during the Constitution amendment exercise carried out by the National Assembly in 2022.
Jeji said the indigenes wanted Nigerians to do the right thing by making the FCT a state.
He further noted that the late Shehu Shagari, who ruled Nigeria from 1979 to 1983, had commenced moves to make the FCT a state.
According to him, towards actualising the plan, Shagari built administrative structures in the Gwagwalada area of the FCT, which are still standing.
He pointed out that the structure can be renovated with about N10 million and used to commence the administration of the FCT State, when it is created.
“Nigerians should do the right thing for the original inhabitants of the FCT. Nigeria has 109 senators, at least 73 of them should say please make FCT a state.
“In the House of Representatives there are 360 members; 240 should say yes that FCT (now) is a state.
“Out of the 36 governors, 24 should say FCT is really a state. The Federal Executive Council which has all the ministers should say FCT is a state, and the President, Tinubu, will now sign it into law.
“Former President Shagari started it. He even built a state apparatus in Gwagwalada and till today it is still standing.
“We only need maybe N10 million to renovate the place. We will start FCT State there. That’s all. And then give us our 11 additional area councils to make it 17 area councils in FCT,” he said.
Speaking in an angry tone, Jeji lamented that FCT indigenes have been marginalised.
“You can’t come and say 8000 sq km of land having Gbagyi, Gwari, Gede, Ganagana, Gwandara, Pasa, Igbira, Toro, Amama, Nupe – over 1.2 million people – that the place is virgin land and the elites are living here, dividing the land among themselves.”
Jeji also expressed the misgivings of FCT indigenes over the state of affairs in the capital territory.
“The Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA) is meant to develop the federal capital but today developers are developing the federal capital,” Jeji noted.