Residents of Mpape, one of the settlements in Abuja marked for demolition by the Federal Capital Development (FCDA), have bowed to resist any attempt by government to deprive them of their shelter and livelihood through the planned demolition exercise . The residents have challenged the government to come up with explanation on the real motive of the demolition and adequately compensate them. ETTA MICHAEL BISONG captures their mood, feelings and what they believe is the best approach out of the dilemma.
What is your view about government’s plan to demolish Mpape?
Madam Lydia Kwasi
It is not good, because I can’t sleep at night when I think of where to go with my children. I came here to settle after my house was burnt in Plateau state. I don’t have anywhere else to go to if the government insists on demolishing Mpape. I am not opposed to government plan if they provide a new place for me and my five children, I will move. But, if that is not done before the demolition, I really don’t know what to do. So, my advice to the government is to give us a place where we can stay, instead of just moving up and down with my children. If they give us a place to stay, it is better for me.
There are over a million people that live in Mpape. So, if the government says the land has been allocated, then let them make adequate provision for our compensation and move us to a proper place for low income earners where we can carry on with our businesses without the fear of any future rellocation, because everyone cannot live in Asokoro or Maitama. If that is done, we don’t even need government to bring caterpillar to chase us away. That is what governments of other countries do to their people. We are citizens of Nigeria and we don’t have any other place to go. We just don’t stay there, we also do our business there, and in fact, how many jobs has the government provided? This is where people earn their living. So, let the government provide an adequate place for us where we can carry on with our lives. In the absence of the foregoing, we are very okay with Mpape the way it is, and that is how I see it.
Mr. Christian Ama
Moving or not moving is not our problem. Our problem is that those people we elected into power don’t want to listen to us. Mpape was a bush when I moved in here and the electricity, schools, hospitals and water you see there today were put together by the residence of the area. Government did not contribute anything to the development of the area, now that they see that the place is becoming lively, they are saying they want to take over the place; that is unfair. Now they want us to go, where do they want us to move to after developing the area? Is that not cheating? It is pure wickedness. Do you know how many people who are dead already? So, we are not going to anywhere. If government wants us to move out of Mpape, let them prepare a place for us because there was no government beacon there when we moved into the area and we paid money to the indigenes and their relations for us to settle there.
My appeal to the government as a citizen is for them to provide a place for us. I can’t travel abroad like some of them do with their wives to deliver their kids in those countries just because they want them to be citizens of those countries and benefit from the development there. This country has the power to provide the same thing as other countries are doing for their citizens, so, why are they pushing us around for us to die?
When I came to Mpape, the whole place was a bush and the Gwari people were begging us to come and stay with them, now that the place is developed and the government has seen, they want to push us aside. Let them go to other countries and ask them how they handled similar matters, rather than just ask us to move. They have built some houses in Shere, for only the Gwari people and ask those of us who are not indigenes to move back to our home town, if that is done, we too will ask those who are not indigene in our area to move out to their places of origin and that will cause problem in the country. So, let them rethink and settle us. If they want us to move from Mpape, they should make provision for us to move before carrying out any demolition in the area, because if we say we should go to the federal government to buy land, the 419 in AGIS, AMAC and all the agencies of government that sells land is too much. I have even paid for land in three places in government and only to find out that the papers were fake and that was how I lost that money.
When Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was Minister, he told us that Mpape was a quary site and that anyone living there was on his or her own and that the companies operating there have 50 years to round-up their activities, and that was the reason why most of us have to move in there. My advice to the government is that, if they don’t want us to live in Mpape, they should make provision for us because we are more than 1 million people living in that small place due to the high cost of living in the urban areas, now they want to push us away. They are advertising that we should restore peace, how are we going to restore peace when they are asking us to go away?
Filed Under: Metro