By Chimezie Godfrey
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has advised the government to suspend resumption of the land swap initiative until it has carried out consultations among citizens of the FCT.
The objective of the initiative according to government is to address infrastructure gaps in the FCT by providing land to investors who in return will finance infrastructureÂ rollout.
Ekute notedÂ thatÂ CITAD has over the last two years engaged rural communities of the FCT who are extremely concerned about the phenomenon of land grabbingÂ thatÂ is taking place in their communities.
He lamented that many have lost their land which as farmers, is their only means of livelihood.Â Land grabbing is a major threat to food security not only in FCT but all over the country.
He said,â€While CITAD is happy to see infrastructure deficit being addressed in the FCT rural communities, it would like to draw the attention of the concerned authorities to the following with respect to the land swap initiative:
â€œThe FCT rural communities who are land owners and therefore likely to be dispossessed by the initiative were not consulted before the decision to resume the initiativeÂ wasÂ taken.
â€œGovernment has not made publicÂ itsÂ findings of investigation of the operation of the Land Swap as it suspected that it was riddled with corruptionGovernment has notÂ explainÂ how in the current phase, corruption would be put at bay and how the interests of rural communities would be taken into account in the new phase of the initiative.
â€œGovernment has not address anyÂ complaintsÂ of land grabbing and land misappropriation and dispossession that occurred in the earlier phase for which FCT rural communities have been the major victims.
â€œFCT rural communities did not benefit in terms of infrastructure development in the earlier phase, this has led many of the communities hard to reach due to the lack of roads; there is no drinking water; rural schools are scandalous sites and healthcare facilities do not exist.
â€œInÂ conclusion, we would like to advise the government to further suspend the resumption of the land swap initiative until:It has carry out consultations among the citizens of the FCT, particularly rural dwellers.â€
Ekute further urged the government to come up with concrete plan for addressing rural infrastructure within the FCT urban area.
â€œCome up with concrete and realistic plan for addressing rural infrastructure, not just infrastructure with the FCT urban area, Made public report ofÂ itsÂ investigation of the abuses of the initiative in the first phase, leading toÂ itsÂ suspension, Propose clear, adequate and realistic measures to stop and mitigate the problems of land grabbing in the FCT rural communities,â€ Ekute stressed.