It has come to our attention that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed while commissioning five new districts on Thursday 8th March 2012 decided; without due consultation with the indigenous people of the FCT, other Nigerians resident in the territory or their National Assembly representatives; to name an extension of the Maitama District after President Goodluck Jonathan.
The new district according to him is now to be addressed as Goodluck Jonathan District.
While we are not against the person of the president, nevertheless we see the hasty renaming of this new district without due consultation as a misuse and abuse of executive powers.
Past ministers of the Federal Capital like General Gado Nasko, Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni and Mallam Nasir El Rufai who worked assiduously for the infrastructural and socio-political upliftment of the indigenous people and residents of the Federal Capital, Abuja never contemplated such actions to “honour” their principals in like manner because they knew that it would have backfired. Instead, they left it to posterity to judge their good works and reward them appropriately.
We are therefore surprised that a Minister will go ahead to rename a whole district without consultation with the indigenous people, past administrators of the FCT or other Nigerians who he is governing the territory in trust for as the constitution empowers the government.
Section 302 of the 1999 constitution says “The President may, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by section 147 of this Constitution, appoint for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja a Minister who shall exercise such powers and perform such functions as may be delegated to him by the President, from time to time.”
If we are to apply this constitutional provision, then it means President Goodluck Jonathan as the “Governor of FCT” is the person that is conferring the renaming of the Maitama Extension district on himself since it is he who the constitution regards as the Chief Executive in charge of the FCT but is only delegating such responsibility to the minister due to the exigencies of governing the entire federation.
Also, since the minister is expected to always get directives from Mr. President “from time to time” especially on major policy issues before announcing such to the public, are we now to believe that President Goodluck Jonathan “delegated” Minister Mohammed to rename the district after him? NO, we doubt so. Instead, we feel the minister is only trying to win the President’s heart with praises so that he can maintain his ministerial seat in the impending cabinet reshuffle insinuated upon by the Nigerian media within the last two weeks.
Incase the Minister has forgotten, we would like to remind him that the original inhabitants of the FCT are still in possession of much of the lands in the territory as the Federal Government in the past and even uptil date has never had all the huge quantum of cash required to fully relocate them hence the change of policy by the military government of former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo to integration/minor resettlement of indigenous people with full compensation wherever development is required rather than total evacuation of the nine indigenous language population present in the over 858 villages and towns within the territory, as earlier envisaged by the Justice Akinnola Aguda Panel Report.
In our view, the minister has gone about some of his recent activities erroneously as if “there are no indigenous people in Abuja,” unlike his predecessors. A typical example was the last minute stoppage of the AMAC Indigenous Cultural Festival in December 2011 without convincing reasons.
If this new policy of “renaming districts” had been in the works, why did the government not intimate the people of FCT at the recent Town Hall meeting organized by the FCT Administration?
In fact, as we write, Mr. President has not even toured the FCT to visit our communities that host him in the seat of power like his predecessors did, yet the Minister is in a haste to name their ancestral land after him.
While responding to criticism against the public outrage from opposition parties, the media and elder statesmen over the renaming of the new district, the Minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Nosike Ogbuenyi in a publication posited that the Minister’s action was “a spontaneous and altruistic action” and we beg to ask: what is the altruism in a President having a district or an edifice named after him by his minister while he is still in power and while the constitution says he is the de facto political head of such a state/territory? Do we have any evidence of such actions in the past where Nigerian Presidents allowed their appointees to willingly name communities after themselves? In fact, even the military governments never tried that. Is the minister not aware of what happened to Prince Abubakar Audu University, which was named by the former governor after himself while in power, only for it to be reverted back to Kogi State University by other successive governments?
In the light of this abuse of executive powers, we the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), an FCT indigenous association registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, hereby rejects any naming of the Maitama Extension District or any other district in Abuja that is done without due consultation with traditional rulers, community groups, indigenous associations and residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
We have sent a letter to the FCT minister calling on him to rescind the decision. We also call on President Goodluck Jonathan to reject this Greek gift in all ramifications!
Pst. Danladi Jeji