The Helpline Foundation for the Needy has urged the government of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to integrate culture into developmental plans for the territory.
This, according to them will enable Original Inhabitants to participate in the developmental processes as culture is a soft power asset of any developing country.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday in Abuja to commemorate the World Day For Cultural Diversity For Dialogue and Development, the Project Manager of Helpline Foundation For The Needy Abuja, Mr Onoja Arome hinted that the government should make the culture of the Original Inhabitants a priority when making public policy affecting the FCT while taking into consideration that these people have nowhere else to call their home.
The group also encouraged the Original Inhabitants to continue to be exertive in utilizing every means to create awareness of their cultural identity by continuously producing and using the cultural attire as a mark of their identity, do not be shy or feel any atom of embarrassment when issues relating to your culture is spoken about, because it is your heritage and it is natural.
According to him: “It is pertinent to note that there are about nine tribes in Abuja they are the Gbagyi, Amwamwa, Koro, Gade, Bassa, Egbura, Ganagana, Gbari and Gwandara respectively these tribes have been in existence before the expropriation which drove them to the suburbs leading to scattered indigenous people, low-income generation leading to abject poverty among others.
“As a result, the helpline foundation has among other mandates to train and empower 300 vulnerable women and marginalized youth of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT of which in the first and second phases of the scheme have trained over 189 participants in our traditional skill transfer programs and are fully ready to preserve their culture through reproducing their respective cultural attires marking the identity of various tribes in FCT and making a livelihood from them.
“Helpline Foundation, first of all, commends the efforts of UNESCO for finding relevance in cultural diversity as a veritable means for sustainable development with the goals to achieve the following: Support sustainable systems of governance for culture; Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase the mobility of artists and cultural professionals; Integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks; and Promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Arome said, “Though belated, we hereby join the world to celebrate world day for cultural diversity for dialogue and development and we wish the world a peaceful coexistence as we win together in patriotism and cooperation with one another for peace and progress knowing that cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life.”
Helpline Foundation for the Needy Abuja with support from John D and Catharine T Macarthur Foundation through the support from the Resource Center For Human Right And Civic Education CHRICED has been implementing the project of promoting the rights of the original inhabitants of the FCT under the sub-granted project title Revamping The Cultural Heritage Through Women And Youth Empowerment And Cultural Preservation since the inception face in November 2021.
Similarly, Ms Blessing Moses, Communications Manager, Abuja Inhabitants Youth Empowerment Organization, commended the Helpline Foundation for putting their culture and their concerns in putting the original inhabitants in the public domain.
She, however, complained that the Original Inhabitants were not dully compensated by the government which they should have done while adding that their peaceful nature should not be taken for granted.
Meanwhile, Comrade Yahuza Abubakar Karshi, Chairman of Gwandara Cultural Organization, FCT Chapter said that the cultural site of the original inhabitants was not taken into consideration during the development thereby destroying some of their valuable cultural sites.
He, however, called on the government to have an archive for their cultural heritage just like other countries such as Brazil and South Africa which also changed their federal capital but incorporated the original inhabitants into the cities, unlike Nigeria.