Abuja runway: Affected community to get N825m, employment, says FG
Written by Adeola Ibrahim on August 30, 2023
The Federal Government has announced N825.819m as compensation for indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory community affected by the construction of the 4.2km second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
Indigenes of the affected community will also get “12 immediate employment from the Ministry of Aviation and its agencies as the case may be, and 10 from the Federal Capital Territory Administration.”
The Minister of FCTA, Nyesom Wike, made the announcement on Tuesday following a negotiation meeting with the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, officials of both ministries and representatives of their agencies as well as stakeholders from Jiwa, the affected community in Abuja.
The N825.8m, according to the minister, is to incentivise the residents to vacate the community and seek their cooperation towards the completion of the project, originally awarded in 2022.
The Federal Executive Council had in March 2022 approved the second runway, with the project broken into four components. The project was also meant for commissioning by June of 2023.
However, part of the Jiwa community which hosts the runway, protested their eviction from their ancestral lands, demanding compensation from the government.
At a parley with members of the community and other stakeholders on Tuesday, Wike said he understood their pains and would do all in his power to get them their dues.
Consequently, he directed the immediate payment of N825m in compensation to the affected landowners.
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 employments from the Ministry of Aviation and its agencies as the case may be, and 10 from the Federal Capital Territory Administration for the Jiwa community. We are going to construct the 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 the FCTA, His Royal Highness (the Sarkin Jiwa), AMAC Chairman, and the Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission (FCT) will sign the agreement reached between the 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 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 happened to that runway tomorrow? It means there will be no flights. In a city as big and cosmopolitan as Abuja?”, he asked.
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 mobilised 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 that 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.”
The Executive Secretary of FCDA, Shehu Hadi had earlier clarified that the FCTA has no business offering compensation to occupants of land, having issued the land to a third party.
According to him, it is the duty of anyone who is offered land to compensate the occupants 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 traditional ruler of the area, the Sarkin Jiwa, Idris Musa urged the Aviation ministry and the FCTA to scale up the amount of compensation from less than N700,000 so that the people could acquire other lands while explaining the frustration of his people, adding that he had for months had sleepless nights because of the back and forth in respect 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.”