Indigenous People’s Day: AOIYEO Salutes Resilience Of Abuja Natives

By: Niyi Lawal

In commemoration of 2023 World’s indigenous people day, the Abuja Original Inhabitants Youth Empowerment Organization (AOIYEO) has praised the resilience and steadfastness of the natives of Federal Capital Territory FCT for the peaceful manner in which they have continued the struggle to advocate for their promotion and protection of their rights as the city’s original inhabitants.

President of the group, Commandant Isaac David, made this known, while addressing journalists on the occasion of this year’s celebration in Abuja.

David acknowledged the efforts made by indigenous people of Abuja over the years to correct some anomalies they had experienced without resorting to any form of violence.

He expressed excitement on the historic nomination of Honorable Zaphaniah Jisalo as a minister after fifty years.

His words: “It is very imperative and necessary to commend our people for going this far in pursuit of their freedom without resorting to violence; in fact, no time would have been the best than this opportunity presented by this international day which coincides with the historic nomination of one of us, Hon. Zaphaniah Jisalo as minister for the first time in the last fifty years.

The President noted that to celebrate this milestone, the original inhabitants across the world choose to commemorate the United Nation’s international day of World Indigenous Peoples day 2023, with the theme “Indigenous Youth as Change Agents for Self-Determination” aptly depicts the realities of original inhabitants’ struggles in the FCT.

He reiterated that the original inhabitants in the FCT are well within their right to paint the city with beautiful colors to celebrate this milestone, which is the outcome of a long and tortuous struggle that put the pressure on the political actors to take the necessary step of including Abuja indigene in a critical governance structure.

David explained that this was what made AOIYEO to commend all community and civil society actors and players who came together in one full voice to demand an end to the treatment of FCT original natives as second class citizens in their ancestral homelands.

He further explained that the decade’s long efforts and activism have now ensured that FCT indigenes would stand shoulder to shoulder with compatriots from other parts of Nigeria in making decisions for the good and orderly governance of Nigeria.

“Their sustained struggle through intensifying advocacy to end the violation of their rights have resulted in a number of commendable outcomes within the past years for the promotion and preservation of their rights, must be celebrated while the advocacy continues to surmount other challenges ahead,” David emphasized.

The United Nations has designated August 9 annually as the international day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples day globally to commemorate the date of the working group on Indigenous Populations’ inaugural session in 1982, as the day was primarily dedicated for the liberties of indigenous peoples around the globe.

One of the most critical issues to reflect on in the context of promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples is the principle of self-determination.

This principle is well enunciated and recognized as a fundamental right in major human rights instruments, including the United Nations Charter. Similarly, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) states that Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination (Article. 3) and in exercising this right; they have the right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Self-determination is fundamental and must be taken together with Articles 1 and 2 of the UN Declaration because Indigenous Peoples are subject to international human rights law, and, as Peoples are equal to all other Peoples.