An association, the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), Wednesday rejected the decision by the Minster of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, to rename the new Maitama extension as Goodluck Jonathan district without due consultations with the indigenous people of the territory or their representatives in the National Assembly.
In a press statement in Abuja Wednesday, the association said through its President, Danladi Jeji, that although it was not against the person of the president, it viewed the hasty renaming of this new district without due consultation as an abuse of executive powers.
OIDA also recalls that past ministers of the FCT never contemplated renaming any District after their principal because of the implications of such an action.
“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,” the statement said.
OIDA said the action was akin to President Goodluck Jonathan naming the District after himself as according to the organisation, based on the 1999 constitution; the FCT Minister was only exercising powers delegated to him by the president.
“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.”
According to the association, the Minister was only trying to curry favour from the president by his action.
“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.”
The indigenous people equally accused the FCT minster of neglecting them since his assumption of office unlike his predecessors in the past and reminded him that they were still in charge of much of the lands in the FCT.
“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.”
“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,” OIDA further said.
The FCT Minister, Mr. Mohammed, had on March 8, while commissioning the new Maitama extension, decided to rename it Goodluck Jonathan district.