As part of activities to mark the 2022 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Association of Wives of Federal Capital Territory Traditional Rulers, AWTR, has held an awareness campaign to draw attention to exclusion in the governing processes and challenges faced by original inhabitants in the territory.
With focus on inclusive governance and double jeopardy of the FCT indigenous women, the Day themed, “Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge,” the women decried the exclusion of their gender at the decision-making table.
Secretary of the AWRT, Halima Mohammed, lamented the deliberate exclusion from governance process of the indigenous people by successive governments despite displacing them from their traditional homes and cultural heritage.
Mohammed said, “The remedy to this impasse begins with an act of recognition. Recognizing that it was the Nigerian government who disposed the original inhabitants, they took traditional land and our traditional way of life. by virtue of Decree 6 of 1976 to make room for Nigeria capital. And now, has excluded the original inhabitants from participating in decision making.”
As a show of respect, she called on the government to appoint a special envoy on FCT indigenous peoples to manage their demands for proper support.
Mohammed highlighted the vulnerable state of indigenous women that, “Despite the crucial indigenous women play in passing down traditional ancestral knowledge. It is double jeopardy for the women and girls that are also original inhabitants, who do not have access to healthcare and education.
“These women suffer high-level of poverty, low level of education and illiteracy, limitations in the nearly three times as likely to be living in poverty compared to their counterparts found in forgotten areas behind the high-rise buildings in Abuja.”
Explaining that “Empowering indigenous women will help improve the health and wellbeing of families, and support the living standard of the community and FCT in general.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Chief of Karu Local government, Emmanuel Kyauta Yepwi, stated, “We the original inhabitants in FCT are living as orphans. With no support from the federal government. But we have supported federal government so much.
“I remember we agitated for mayorship; it was not given to us. They say if it is given, then visitors will not drink water in FCT. How is it possible?
“We’re not given ministerial slots, we’re not given state status, there is a state with six senators among the house of representatives but we have two. If we had four more, we will know how many people will be empowered.
“We have three senators each in a state, some are even more than that while we have one in FCT. Why? And they say that Abuja is like a state. Is it like a state again?”