A compensation of N825.819 million has been declared by the Federal Government for the indigenes of a community in the Federal Capital Territory, who will be displaced by the construction of the second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by the Minister, FCTA, Nyesom Wike, after a negotiation meeting with the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, and other officials and stakeholders from both ministries and Jiwa, the community in question.
The minister said the compensation was to facilitate the relocation of the residents and ensure their cooperation for the timely completion of the second runway project, which was awarded in 2022 and expected to be commissioned by June 2023.
The project, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in March 2022, has four components and is aimed at enhancing the capacity and safety of the airport.
However, some members of the Jiwa Community, who claimed that the runway would encroach on their ancestral lands, resisted their eviction and demanded compensation from the government.
Wike expressed sympathy for their plight and assured them that he would do everything possible to get them their entitlements.
He also ordered the immediate payment of N825 million to the affected landowners as compensation.
Speaking on the resolutions of the meeting, Wike said; “We have been able to resolve amicably with the community, and contractors will now move to site. As part of the incentives to the community, 12 immediate employment from the Ministry of Aviation and its agencies as the case maybe, and 10 from the Federal Capital Territory Administration for the Jiwa community. We are going to construct Tunga Madaki Bridge, which we will put in the 2024 budget, with a 5km road. We are going to provide a modern healthcare facility for the community.
“The Permanent Secretaries from the Ministry of Aviation and that of the FCTA, His Royal Highness (the Sarkin Jiwa), AMAC Chairman, and the Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission (FCT) will sign the agreement reached between government and Jiwa Community, and if that is done today, by tomorrow or next, the moment the money gets to them, the contractors will no longer delay, as they have to move to the site immediately and commence work. So, the second runway has come to stay.
“I know how you are feeling. I am from a community where the government has taken virtually all our land for development. So, if there is anything that should be done to make you happy, I will carry it on my head. But the truth remains that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. If the Aviation ministry them had concerned themselves with the runway project alone, we wouldn’t have found ourselves here but they came to usurp the job of the FCTA.
“We have only one runway. How would you feel if something happens to that runway tomorrow? It means there will be no flights. In a city as big and cosmopolitan as Abuja?”, He queried.
Earlier, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo SAN said the ministry erred in the past by dabbling into issues outside its remit.
Keyamo said; “The timeline to commission the second runway was sometime in June or July 2023 and we have not even mobilized to the site by now.
“It is not the business of Aviation to assess compensation in matters of land in the FCT. So, I want to appeal to the community whatever you discussed with Aviation before was totally outside the powers of Aviation. It is within the powers of the FCTA to do that. There is a certain legal schedule by which compensation is paid. We know the implications of not following the provisions of the law. When they say rule of law, it does not apply to the government alone. It applies to all.
“We will perhaps think outside the box about maybe in the area of social responsibility to see how we can get other things for the people alongside what the law stipulates as compensation.”
Shehu Hadi, the FCDA Executive Secretary, explained that the FCTA is not responsible for compensating the people living on the land, since the land was already allocated to another party.
He said that whoever receives the land should pay the compensation to the residents of that land.
“I want to clarify one of the issues raised which is payment of compensation. That is where the FCT perspective on this issue has to be made clear. It is the responsibility of the MDAs to make arrangements for the payment of compensation after we have allocated lands to them.
“The Department of Resettlement and Compensation in the FCT assists in the enumeration of economic trees, structures etc. for compensation”, he stated.
The Sarkin Jiwa, Idris Musa, who is the area’s traditional leader, appealed to the Aviation ministry and the FCTA to increase the compensation amount from less than N700,000 to a level that would enable the people to purchase other lands. He also expressed the difficulties faced by his people and said that he had been restless for months due to the unresolved issue of compensation.
He said, “We sat with the Aviation and FCT Administration. Aviation has a consultant in respect of the compensation but it was the consultant who sat with us and the FCTA was an observer. In certain terms, we have agreed with the consultant that they will pay N2.5m per hectare.
“So, at last, the administration said the Aviation had no right to do that, that it is the FCTA that should do it. Then each hectare came to less than N700,000. The community wrote to the FCT Public Complaints Commission and up till yesterday, we were holding meetings in my palace to see that this issue is resolved in the overriding public interest”.