March 5, 2024

Year: 2021

NEITI to ensure host communities have access to contracts as CTA launches project to promote cultural values of FCT original inhabitants By JOHN NWOKOCHA, Abuja The Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has said it is currently working to that all contracts are declared in public space so that host communities can access the contents. Team Lead, Communication and Advocacy, NEITI , Kazeem Lameed, disclosed this at the public launch of project to promote the rights of the Original Inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, by the Centre for Transparency, Advocacy (CTA), on Tuesday in Abuja “One of the issues which we are currently dealing with in NEITI now is to make sure that all contracts, be it Community Development Agreements (CDAs) are put in the public domain so that the host community or whoever that is interested can access it and even have an idea of its contents. On the basis of that knowledge, they can hold these companies accountable”. Said Lameed. He frowns on the exploitation of host communities by mining companies whose activities cause various degrees of environmental impacts, saying “Part of the rules is that companies that engage in mining should not just go to a place and exploit mineral resource; they should not destroy the environment. I believe that this is at the core of this project”. He said NEITI considered the project essentially as a sustainability issue, adding that “NEITI will work with the organisation to ensure that the objectives of this project are achieved”. He emphasized the importance of the promoting the cultural rights of the original inhabitants saying “As a matter of fact, if you want to destroy a people economically, first of all destroy their culture, destroy their identity and you have destroyed everything. So, this underscores the significance of this project”. He informed that CTA had officially written NEITI about the project and that it was being considered. Hear him: “Let me also acknowledge that the Centre for Transparency Advocacy has written to us, requesting us to come along and work with the organisation in the execution of this project. That letter is currently being considered and I hope that whatsoever it will take.” He added: “We are looking at the letter sent to us and at the appropriate time, we will invite you to come and discuss with us the modalities in which we are going to engage with you on this project.” Meanwhile, CTA said the projects aim at promoting the cultural values and rights of Original Inhabitants of FCT, through drama and art form. Speaking, Executive Director of CTA, Ms Faith Nwadishi lamented that for decades FCT Original Inhabitants have faced several forms of infringement of their fundamental rights. According to Nwadishi “This has manifested in the form of institutionalized discrimination, disenfranchisement and outright marginalization within the Nigerian polity. “The Original Inhabitants were not only made stateless by the acquired status of FCT but has continued to suffer from environmental pollution, degradation, loss of farmlands and other means of livelihood occasioned by massive constructions within the territory. “The most grievous of these deprivations is the near loss of identity of the inhabitants who have been tossed into other states thereby compromising their ways of live and culture. “It will interest you to note that the symbol at the Abuja City Gate in no way depicts the culture or relics of the Gbagyi People either in artwork, traditional colours or by any means related to the philosophy and culture of the Gbagyi people.” She added that CTA will implement the project through activities that will enable existing Inhabitants efforts to revamp dying cultural values, treasures and repositories. Also, it aims at boosting the capacity of the Original Inhabitants to negotiate good Community Development Agreement (CDAs) with mining companies to address negative environmental impacts and the destruction of cultural sites due to mining activities. Making his remarks, the paramount ruler of Bwari District, Esu Bwari, Dr Ibrahim Yaro bemoaned the condition of the original inhabitants. He noted that they were so marginalized. He declared: “we have no say in the scheme of things in the FCT”. The paramount ruler who was represented by Mr Awoyi, Youth President of Bwari Area Council maintained that the Original Inhabitants have been displaced and their ancestral lands taken from them. Said he: “We no longer have places to farm”. Yaro said further that the Original inhabitants have also been denied Federal appointments. He and other guests not only commended CTA on the project, but also pledged their support for the realization of the project. The 55 million Naira project targets two years duration within which significant improvement of access to environmental service delivery by mining companies and government agencies as well as cultural sites of Original Inhabitants of FCT would be achieved. The project is being sponsored by Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) and MacArthur Foundation. •Executive Director, CTA, Faith Nwadish

  By JOHN NWOKOCHA, Abuja The Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has said...