Stories by Aminu Imam
On the heels of protests by original settlers over inadequate compensation by the Federal authorities, the on-going National Conference has revisited the issue, with two prominent delegates holding divergent views on the matter.
While the former Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni (rtd) said that the original inhabitants of the territory, whose land was taken over by the Federal Government, have not been fully settled, erstwhile chairman, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd) opined that the issue of compensation has been settled.
Gen Useni, who made submissions at the parley in Abuja last week, explained that the clarification had become necessary in order to put the compensation records strait, especially as he was a principal actor in the whole saga at the time he was Minister in 1993.
According to former FCT Minister, “part payment was made but not directly. In fact, this was done long time ago when I took over as minister in 1993. But since then no kobo has been released.”
The former FCT Minister used the opportunity lampoon politicians and other Nigerians who served under the military administration, but who, he said are now claiming to be democrats and warned against using the national conference to distort the country’s historical facts.
But Ali, also a delegate had during his presentation on the floor of the parley, claimed that he was part of the cabinet when the government took the decision to pay full compensation to the aborigine of the territory for the taking over of their land to create room for the FCT.
He said there was therefore no basis for the aborigines to continue to make new demands now for compensation from the Federal Government.
Indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the umbrella of the Original Inhabitants Development Association (OIDA) had last year, 2013 faulted the Federal Government compensation policy for the FCT, stating that the scheme has failed to meet the yearnings of the people.
The group said that the current compensation and resettlement programme is not realistic.
They had sought the intervention of the National Assembly over alleged usurpation of their ancestral homes under the Abuja Land Swap policy initiated by the FCT administration, and threatened to petition the United Nations and other world bodies if 30 percent of the scheme is not ceded to the indigenous communities.