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Reps consider bill seeking to resettle, compensate Abuja indigenes

Reps consider bill seeking to resettle, compensate Abuja indigenes
January 18
18:22 2022

A bill seeking to create a board to oversee the compensation and resettlement of indigenes in the federal capital territory (FCT) has passed second reading at the house of representatives.

According to a bill sponsored by Gaza Gbefwi, a lawmaker from Nasarawa, the board will focus on generating funds to resettle and compensate original inhabitants of areas in the FCT which have been taken over by the government.

In recent years, the indigenous inhabitants of the FCT have been protesting the takeover of their ancestral lands for infrastructural purposes without getting adequate compensation.

Leading the debate on the bill during plenary session on Tuesday, the lawmaker said several attempts to compensate indigenes had failed to yield positive outcomes.

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He said the board will be chaired by an indigene, while members will comprise representatives from the six area councils in the FCT and the traditional council “who are knowledgeable and familiar with the challenges of compensation and resettlement”.

“Over decades now, development-induced displacement and resettlement have taken place in the federal capital territory (FCT),” the lawmaker said.

“To address the displacement and resettlement problems, different resettlement policy strategies have been utilised, yet the resettlement policy and strategies experimented have not yielded any positive result.

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“Among the challenges found inhibiting the effective implementation of the resettlement policy strategies in FCT include corruption, lack of funding, inadequate involvement of the indigenous people or community members in the implementation of resettlement policies, among others.

“Generally, resettlement, whether in the form of voluntary or involuntary, always has its repercussion for the displaced persons and the organisation of government initiating the idea of resettlement. The group of people being compelled to pave way for development will unavoidably encounter a decrease in their standard of living.

“The board is to source for funds for the continuous implementation and payment from both local and international bodies, grants for the compensation and resettlement.

“The board will conceive, plan and implement, in accordance with set rules and regulations, projects and programmes of the FCT aborigines in the area of agriculture, education, scholarship, health and environment; identify factors inhibiting the development of such areas, and assist in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure efficient management of resources.”

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He added that the board will also ensure that the funds released for such projects are properly utilised to ensure the “sustainable all-round development of the rural areas and its people”.

The bill was not debated and was unanimously voted for when put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

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