AHEAD of the May 29 handover of government to the newly elected Federal executive, Abuja natives are divided on the future of the land swap policy introduced by the Goodluck Jonathan administration through the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed.
The Original Inhabitants Development Association (OIDA) wants the policy to be scrapped due to its alleged use as a conduit pipe to allocate mass areas of Gbagyi land to the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government and their cronies.
Leader of the group, Danladi Dejji argued that rather than benefit the original inhabitants, the land swap policy was designed to compound the problem of Abuja indigenes who he noted have been moved from their ancestral lands without any form of compensation. But another group, the Abuja Original Inhabitants Coalition Group in a swift reaction kicked against the recent call, stressing that the policy was aimed at infrastructural development of the territory.
The coalition described the call as myopic and not a true reflection of all original inhabitants of Abuja, arguing that such utterances are capable of misleading the incoming administration.
Through the land swap policy, which ground breaking ceremony was held in February at the Apo district by the President Jonathan, a conglomeration of developers were given large areas of land within different locations of the FCT where they are expected to invest over $700million to provide housing and commercial estates which will be shared and managed in conjunction with the government. Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Coordinator of the coalition, Danjuma Bussa, an engineer, explained that before the implementation of the Land Swap policy, the FCT Administration had a Town Hall meeting, which engaged all stakeholders on the viability of the programme. “The OIDA was duly represented in the stakeholders meeting and subsequent committees.
“To be candid, we are taking aback by the recent call by OIDA to scrap the Land Swap policy. We want to state in clear terms that it is not a true position of all the original inhabitants of Abuja. We want to equally state in an unequivocal term that few people cannot stay in their comfort zone and impose their selfish and myopic position on the rest of us. Such action and decision is anti-democratic, bias, selfish and unproductive.
“It is an indisputable fact that before the implementation of the Land Swap policy, the FCT Administration convoke a Town Hall meeting of all stakeholders at the International Conference Center to discuss the viability of the policy. These groups of people clamouring for the scraping of the policy were part of the committee that submitted its memoranda for the success of the policy. We all examined some of the identified loopholes and make necessary amendments. It will be unjust and undemocratic for the incoming government to scrap such policy by fiat without involving all the stakeholders,” he said.
Bussa noted that one of the drawbacks of the nation’s capital is to undo the good policies of previous administrations, while calling on the incoming government to be weary of impostors of democratic culture. The spokesman also said that the group is in support of appointing an FCT indigene as minister as part of effort to tackle the marginalization of the natives.