Abuja at 40: Indigenes call for inclusive governance

A map of Abuja, FCT

Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Administration, Abuja turned forty years old on Wednesday. It was created by the then military head of state, General Murtala  Mohammed on 3rd February 1979.

The military government had created the Federal Capital Territory through the enactment of the FCT Decree No. 6 of 1976, also called the FCT Act.

On the 12 of December, 1991 President Ibrahim Babangida signed the decree formally declaring Abuja as the new capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He then boarded a presidential plane and made the historic one hour journey to Abuja.

FCT city gate
FCT city gate

He was received at the city gate by ministers, the diplomatic corps, civil servants and other prominent Nigerians.

After a colorful ceremony at the city gate, he was conveyed in a convoy to the new seat of government at the valley by the foot of Aso Rock.

This brought to an end a planned 15 years movement of the seat of power from Lagos to Abuja, from 1976 to 1991.

Nigeria joined the league of countries that had built new capitals such as the United States of America that transferred from New York to Washington DC, Brazil from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, Australia from Melbourne to Canberra and few others.

The Territory was carved out of Nasarawa, Niger, and Kogi states in the North central part of Nigeria.

Administratively, the President appoints the minister who oversees the day to day running of the territory.

Sixteen ministers have so far governed Nigeria’s capital territory, Abuja.

Though, there were no activities in Abuja to mark the day, in an interview with Voice of Nigeria, the Youth President of the Original Inhabitants Development Association, OIDA, Pastor Danladi Jeji, identified security as one of the successes recorded so far in the territory.


Mr Jeji appealed to the federal government to engage the original inhabitants in the governance of the FCT.

He added that, they were lagging behind in terms of education, political, economic and social opportunities.

According to him, “ we are stateless people with our children constantly mocked as stateless Nigerians. Our lawyers presently do not have opportunities to become Chief Judges; our politicians do not have opportunities of becoming commissioners; state house of assembly members or governors, our civil servants are short-changed from rising to positions of permanent secretaries or Head of Service.

The development of our communities are at the mercies of strangers who are appointed by leaders at the federal level who hardly know the yearnings of our people. Our constitutional rights to self-determination have been usurped by the Nigerian state thereby rendering us stateless.”

He appealed to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the governance of the FCT by introducing a bill to the National Assembly for an urgent constitutional amendment to allow FCT to fully operate as a second-tier system of government.

We want subsequent presidents of Nigeria to relinquish their powers as Governor of FCT and the National Assembly to also relinquish its powers as the House of Assembly for the FCT, to the original inhabitants and residents of the FCT, so that they can freely elect those to govern them directly rather than the indirect rule presently obtainable in the territory”, he said

Pastor Jeji asked the nine indigenous tribes of the FCT namely Amwamwa, Bassa, Egbura, Gade, Ganagana, Gbagyi, Gbari, Gwandara and Koro to unite and forge a common front for the emancipation of Abuja natives.