Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

By Ene Oshaba  

The Association of Wives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Traditional Rulers (AWTR) has called on the federal government to dialogue with the original inhabitants in amending the constitution.

President of the Association, Her Royal Highness (HRH) Hauwa Kulu Ibrahim, made the call in Abuja during the press conference to mark the International Day of Indigenous Peoples celebrated on the theme  ‘The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge.’

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is celebrated globally on August 9. It marks the date of the inaugural session of the working group on Ingenous Population in 1982.

Represented by the Secretary of the Association Mrs. Halima Mohammed ESQ, Ibrahim noted that the indigenous people of the FCT have long clamoured for a second tier of administration, in line with section 299 of the constitution to enable them operate like other states in the country.

She expressed worry that the court judgment in favour of the FCT indigenes has continually been flouted by the government, thereby depriving them the right to inclusion in governance even when they made room for their land to be used as the nation’s capital.

“‘Éven when the people sought redress through the court, the court judgement is not obeyed by the government, therefore, intentionally excluding the people from the governance process. 

”The remedy to this impasse begins with an act of recognition. Recognising that it was the Nigerian government who disposed of the original inhabitants, they took our traditional land and our traditional way of life, by virtue of Decree 6 of 1979 to make room for Nigeria capital and now has excluded the original inhabitants from participating in decision making,” she said.

AWTR therefore requested that the government appoint a special envoy on FCT indigenous people concerns, saying this will show that the government is paying due respect to the original Inhabitants whose sacrifice of ancestral heritage is enabling national development objectives.

She also lamented high level of discrimination against women, describing their status as “double jeopardy” especially with the lack of access to quality and adequate healhcare and education. 

“Despite the crucial role of women as breadwinners, caretakers, knowledge keepers, leaders and human rights defenders, it is not enough.  Women suffer from various levels of discrimination on the bases of gender, class, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

“It is a double jeopardy for women and girls that are also original Inhabitants,  who do not have access to healthcare and education.  It is a double jeopardy because,  besides our ancestral lands being violated by the government, there is limited participation in Political life.

“The indigenous women particularly suffer high levels of poverty,  low level of education and illiteracy,  limitations in the access to health, basic sanitation,  employment and domestic and secual violence,” she decried.

The indigenous women therefore called on the government to empower its women to be visible and offered the chance to make contributions to laws, policies that are directly affecting the indigenous women such as violence, natural resources and food production, stressing that supporting the women will strengthen the community and FCT in general. 

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