By Stanley Onyekwere
Recently, the FCT Administration issued a quit notice to police personnel currently occupying Jabi 1 proposed Resettlement site in Shere Galuwyi, in order to way for your relocation. How ready are your people?
We are very eager to relocate to Shere Galuwyi for obvious reasons. Majority of us are farmers, and there is no where to farm here (Jabi), and believe that as government told us that there would be provision for farming.
That’s one of the reasons we agreed to move. And anybody that is resisting the planned relocation is not part of us. I’m the paramount ruler, and majority of my people have agreed that we want to go, and nobody can change our minds.
Are you and your people under any form of pressure to immediately relocate to the proposed resentment site?
Since the time of the military administration of late Sani Abacha, my people have been agitating for a resettlement, so nobody is forcing us to move.
Initially, we were shown Dei-dei, where the then Minister took us to inspect the site and its development plan, unfortunately the site was given to the police, who are living there till now. But it was during the administration of the then FCT Minister, Mallam Ahmed El’rufai that the new site, Shere Galuwyi was earmarked for our people to relocate to. All we believe is that the government should uphold it’s promise of provision of essential social services and amenities, which will stop us from wanting to return to the city centre. And once we have the social amenities in the new site, we don’t have any business with the city centre. So let the government do what they need to do, to enable us move.
As a Chief, you must have visited the new site. What is your assessment of the place?
Yes, even before actual development, officials of the Resettlement and Compensation Department have taken us to inspect the new site. And after the commencement of works especially the houses, we were taken to the level of development there. So far, we are satisfied with the place. Nobody forced our people to go there, as it’s within their willingness to do so, and based on the satisfaction of development there, that they like the place.
What informed your decision to accept resettlement there?
Like I said before, the reasons are very obvious. My people want a place that would give them social security. This place (Jabi), majority of us are farmers, and there is no provision for farming activity here. But where the government is taking us, there’s provision for that kind of activity. That’s main reason why we want to go there. Also, here we are having serious problem. Where we are supposed to farm, somebody will come and say it’s their plots. And even we build any structure, somebody will come and demolish it, because it’s illegal settlement. We want a place where government will take us to, and nobody will come and be disturbing us. We need to expand, because we are worried that our upcoming children are developing fast. And the buildings that we have in this place cannot carter for their accommodation needs. So we need a place where our children can develop and live in.As long as the government is done with works there, we are ready to move into the new site, because we choking in this place, as we are not allowed to expand.
For instance, in my house, there’s a room where five children are sharing, because there is no enough rooms for them.
So, somebody who is in that of situation that we are now, and the government provides more comfortable place, then anytime the government tell us to relocate, we will gladly do so, as we are ever ready.
What has been the level of involvement of community stakeholders in the entire exercise?
We have been carried along by the authorities of Resettlement department, because whatever they are doing concerning the resettlement they involved us. Most of the time when they are going to the site, they go with us.
More importantly, the government should ensure that essential things like schools, roads, water, markets, hospitals and police station that are supposed to be in the place, should be there. This is so we will feel at home.
But, there have been various organizations claiming to be speaking and representing your community, in the process discouraging your people from relocating. What’s take on this?
Yes I’m aware of these organizations trying trying to cause disharmony among my people in the community. My advice to them is that they should to desist from such, as nothing will change our collective decision to move.
Because, for Jabi 1, where I’m the paramount ruler, those resisting the planned relocation to Shere Galuwyi, should please leave us and relocate to their respective states. In fact, I and majority of my people are ready for resettlement, and nobody can change our minds on it. I’m only appealing to the government to into consideration other tribes living in the community, and see how to also take care of them, so as to not be left out in the resettlement process.