His Royal Highness, Alhaji Hussaini A. Mam, the Agabe of Gwargwada chiefdom, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in this interview, told Tobias Lengnan Dapam and Mashe Umaru Gwamna, that no administration of the nation’s capital has compensated the original inhabitants of the Territory. He says that’s that is why most of the FCT indigenes are coming to claim their lands. Also, the Monarch touches on a lot of sundry issues affecting his people. Excerpts:
There is allegation that Abuja indigenes have illegally sold most of their ancestral lands to other settlers in FCT. How true is this?
It is not true. Abuja started when late Murtala Mohammed initiated the move to relocate the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja. His intention was to move us to our various states but unfortunately he was assassinated and could not implement the good plan. And when the former Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo came, he made a decree that any indigene who wishes to leave, he/she is free to move to their former states; but any one that wants to stay, their tradition and culture will be taken care of by the government. That was what actually happened. No one was compensated after the demolition that followed ; except those that the development affected them. Those in Wuse 11 were moved to Niger state. Apart from that, nothing happened and no compensation was given that is why most of the FCT indigenes are coming to reclaim their land.
What’s your take on the concerns by some tribes, whoare agitating that only Gbagyi people benefit from the FCT scholarship scheme?
That is not also true. Shortly before I became the Agabe of Gwargwada, Iwas a principal of one of the secondary schools in Abuja. The issue of scholarship is based on application. The scholarship board will always announce the commencement of the sale of forms, and thereafter give scholarship based on qualification. But if you refuse to go and buy the scholarship forms, the government will not follow you to your house. I don’t believe that scholarship allowances are only meant for the Gbagyi people alone- it cuts across all the tribes.
Majority of your people are farmers, do they get any support from the government to improve their farm produce?
There is great improvement in the aspect of fertilizer. Recently, the government has captured almost all the farmers in the distribution of fertilizer, and all of them that were captured got fertilizers and seedlings for planting at a subsidized rate. This development is better than that of previous years where the middle men hijacked the selling of fertilizer to farmers.
Are there agricultural extension workers in your community, educating your people on mechanized farming?
We don’t have any extension workers coming to teach our farmers modern ways of farming. Most of my people still practice subsistence or local farming. It has been giving us a lot of challenges. The farmers hardly get enough farm produce to feed their families talk more of selling it.
As the Agabe of Gwargwada, have you ever visited the office of any Agricultural department under the FCT Administration or the Federal, to inform the officials that your community needed enlightenment by the extension workers on modern farming?
It is not an issue for the traditional ruler; the government has its policies that they always follow. If such initiative is included, definitely they will send them to us. To be sincere I have not gone to any agricultural department to request for any extension worker, but if it is part of their policy, I think they will send the extension workers to us.
Recently, the people of Kuje protested against location of Ebola isolation center within in their locality. As a traditional ruler, what is your position on this?
The issue of Ebola is unfortunate. It is an epidemic that cuts cross West Africa. The people are angry because the disease is deadly. Notwithstanding, there must be a place to treat the patients. Kuje was chosen by the government as an isolation center and we cannot go against policies of government. I went and saw the place and I must say the government is doing a good job there. Because if the any person with Ebola disease is found he /she will be well treated and protected there. Our prayer is that we should not record any case of such around us.
How are you sensitizing your people about Ebola and what the government has been doing?
Is been a serious assignment that I engaged my village heads, districts heads and prominent personalities in the area to do. We educated them on what to do and what not to do so that they too can go back to their villages to sensitize the people. I can boastfully say that my people know a lot about Ebola- the signs symptoms and what to do daily to avoid contact.
There are problems of road network in most rural settlements in the FCT, what are the traditional rulers and the politicians doing to address this issue?
What I was made to understanding is that, there are roads that are taken care of by the federal and local government. The road from Atako to Abaji was constructed during the time of Shehu Shagari. So you can see how long that road is. We still need government intervention, so as to construct that road again because it is the major road that links my chiefdom with other communities. We need help from the government so that our people can be able to transport their farm produce.
How equipped is the health care Centre in Gwargwada?
So far in my Chiefdom, we have a primary health care center and there qualified medical practitioners in the clinic. We also have a General hospital in Rubouchi which is providing medical services for the people. However, I am appealing to government to help equip the hospital and the clinic with drugs.
Specifically, if you are opportune to meet the FCT Minister, what will you tell him to do about the plight of your people?
The plight of my people is still on issue of poor road network. We also need more bore- holes for effective water supply in the chiefdom. I also want to appeal to the chairman of the Council to provide additional bore-hole for the people to reduce water borne diseases. Again, the secondary school in my chiefdom needs to be fenced to provide adequate security for the students in the school. The government should help fenced the school so as to protect the students and create a conducive atmosphere for them to study.This is because, the time we are in calls for strengthening of security of lives and property in any part of the Territory.