Galadimawa, a community at the outskirts of Abuja, FCT, Nigeria, is surraounded by fenced estates: new constructions for Abuja residents. The community is resisting the relocation offered by the government.
Interview with Alhaji Mussa Bardey, District Head of Galadimawa,
Abuja Municipal Council, FCT
Galadimawa territorial district covers stretches from National Stadion in Abuja towards Lugbe, and is comprising of 7 villages, including the surrounding estates. Mr Bardey is police officer and was inaugurated as District Head on 27 May 2003.
Q: What is the legacy of Galadimawa?
A: If we look 57 years back, when I was born into this community, this was a community like any other in Nigeria or in the world. Galadimawa has been in existence more than 600 years, as it is told by our forefathers. The Federal government came into this region in the year 1976. In this community we were living on fishing, farming and hunting. There were also a few civil servants among us, but not so much. The majority were peasant farmers. Up till today, 95% of us are farmers. When the Federal Government came to our territory in 1976, we were not advised to relocate immediately. In 1992, when the city moved from Lagos to Abuja, we embraced the arrival of the Federal Capital very well, also as Nigerians, since it meant development. We did not have any other option than to accept it, because this government was also our government. It boosted our morality. We embraced it also because of it meant that social services were arriving: schools, hospitals, roads and so on. We started negotiations with the authority, when the government wanted to relocate, to resettle us elsewhere. That was the starting point – even before 1992. Later on, the head of state, president Obasanjo stated, that the money for our resettlement at that time was too big. Therefore, everybody who wants to remain should remain; and those who want to go for resettlement should do so. A few villages accepted to go. Wuse, along Kaduna road; Karu, now in Nassarawa State; Karishi now in Nasarrawa state; Garubabangida in Niger state, Gwargwada and New Nyanya, both now in Nasarrawa state and some small, small villages were among them. But the majority among us, whose fathers chose to remain, we still remain. A partial compensation was paid to some of them, and to some of us, who lived, where the road has been constructed. This is what we experience. It was not a full compensation, only for those, where the road passed through their houses, they were resettled somewhere else.
Q; You say, some individuals have been compensated, but not the community. So, what would full compensation be for you?
A: Compensation can be given in different forms. Compensation can be cash, compensation can be with land. I think it is optional. So, if I am invited for a dialogue, I have my options and a choice.
Q: When you walk down main street in Galadimawa, you can see the wonderful houses springing up like mushrooms everywhere around Galadimawa. I guess, your people would like to live there. Is it not difficult to see those houses coming nearer and nearer? What is your vision? What would be a good compensation?
A: Some may opt for money, others for land. A compensation is a compensation. The issue is a continuous discussion. We would prefer compensation with land. Everybody wants modernization and we do want modernization. After all, the land which is acquired is filled with modern buildings. This is modernization. People are showing interest in mansion, and our people are also showing interest in mansions. This is our feeling. If I have children today, I do not want them to live later in the way I live. I would like them to live in the way they feel. Maybe they are going to school- so you don’t want them to live in shanty houses. He wants to live in a mansion house, what he has been seeing. Taking advantage that he is here and development will catch up with him. So he will like to be a city person! He will like to live in an urban area, like any other Nigerian, too. So if somebody is coming to take his land and develop it, he will like to develop along with them.
Q: Land has a value. Earlier it has been given out for a very small price, sometimes for small gifts. What kind of lessons has been learnt since the beginning of the construction of Abuja?
A: We have learnt lessons from the buildings and structures which have been built for resettlement. There has been a discussion, whether these structures are adequately; the way you live in these buildings, the culture of housing. This refers to the structure of the building, and also to the size of the rooms. Considering the experiences from the other places, that makes us feel, that we prefer to be here rather than being relocated. Because the implication is, where they want you to relocate, you will meet another community residing there already. And usually there will be an argument, a conflict or a dispute somehow, especially to reach farmland. Those people there, they usually have their farmland. And it is their farmland, which will be collected and given to us. So they will not release another farmland for you to build houses.
Q: Has compensation changed over the years? Have your demands changed?
A: No, the compensation rate is still the same.
Q: What is the special value of Galadimawa? What makes Galadimawa unique?
A: My community is really accommodative, we do not discriminate, we are law abiding, we respect the rule of law. The Galadimawa community, we are very friendly, we are busy with our own businesses, some of us are taxi drivers, the majority is still farming and we have to go far beyond the FCT territory to find farm land or negotiate for farmland. At the end of the year, they have enough for their families and can also sell. Galadimawa community is very busy, busy for transaction and business, farming- what have you. We don’t have problems. The only problem we are having, is that we find it sometimes hard to send the children to school, for the hardship we are experiencing. Not all people have farmland now and not all people can go as far as behind the borders of FCT to go for farming. Those who cannot go, have to stay in town and find a job to do. So we have some taxi drivers and those who went to school are civil servants.
Q: What is your Vision 2020 for Galadimawa?
Our vision 2020 is the recognition of Galadimawa community by the government and a right to up-grade, up-grade what they call slums. We prefer that up-grading instead of relocation. If Galadimawa is up-graded, and some villages around, that is an achievement. Than we would be grateful to the government for being human enough to make Galadimawa better, for the betterment of our future.