The issue surrounding the Gbagyi people in the FCT - and Nigeria in general - has become a source of concern, as they now fight tooth and nail to further bring to the fore the problems facing the people. The challenges of a Gbagyi man (Gbagyi za) living in Kaduna, Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa states may not be too diferent in the FCT, too.
Brief History Of the "Gbagyi Man"
Due to the tyrannical rule of Queen Amina of Zazzau over the Gbagyi people in the 1400s, who became hewers of wood and drawers of water, Gbagyi ethnic group has continually lost grips of the effective control over their domains.
Zaria for example, was lost to the Habe and Fulani rulers of that centuries. In 1900, during Lord Lugard's administration, effective occupation of Kaduna was lost, as the Gbagyi indigenes took flight to the suburbs, such as Rorni, Gonin Gora, Kakau, Chikun, Riga Chikun, Kujama and so on. After the 1804 exodus of the Gbagyi people due to harsh Habe and Fulani rulers of Zazzau, Abuja too was lost. And until 1934 when Gbagyi chiefdom was carved out of Kuta, Paiko and Bosso with headquarters in Minna. Minna was about to be lost.
Already, Zungeru had been lost. And today, the Gbagyi of Nasarawa state (Toto), are being threatened by extermination. Such is the scenario of the Gbagyi ethnic group. The question one would want to ask, is the Gbagyi ethnic group becoming an endangered specie in Nigeria?
The man, "Gbagyi Za", harbours peace and spearhead peace for other species of human beings. In fact, the group have been described as the most peaceful people in Nigeria.
According to Iyako Joseph, Abuja has since been overrun without any resistance. Yet, we hear of Ogoni people (Niger Delta), and their land struggle, OPC and the south west protection, the Plateau, seeking an identity and emancipation.
"Today in the FCT, it is a case of indigenous tribes versus residents association, the two operating on different frequencies on Gbagyi land. Today nobody speaks on the basis of compensation for the Gbagyi man. The people are fast becoming landless because they have tactically been disposed of their land by the government machinery or the privileged absentee Landlords. But why is such a calamity taking place over our people with ease? What has gone wrong with the hitherto, peaceful people?"
But Prince Gbaiza, National Coordinator, Greater Gbagyi Development Initiative of Nigeria (GG-DIN) emphasized that the right thing should be done because if the people are left with nothing, then the heritage of the Gbagyi man would be extinct.
"Gbagyi people have turned themselves enemies to one another. That is why Kwali and Bwari can have non-indigenes as their traditional rulers. Yet nothing seems to happen. That is why our politicians can be killed and heavens have not fallen. That is why our houses are demolished, land seized without compensation, and heavens cannot weep. Will these happen in the Niger Delta or South East, or South West or the Northern States and the country will not pay for such?" he stressed.
Perpetuation of Poverty Among Gbagyi People
Gbagyi people are generally known to be hard-working, basically peasant farmers. This culture of hard work over the years have failed to deliver the people from poverty in spite of their labour. Education which is the gateway to success in life is a mirage among the "Gbagyi people".
According to Prince Ggaiza, "Our children are learning under harsh economic conditions. The educational infrastructures are poor, the space (institutions) limited and where available, the Gbagyi man is unable to afford the cost. The children, especially those in Abuja, are competing against global standards because of their environment. Our children are dropping out of school in droves because of lack of sponsorship, parents have failed due to obvious reasons and government at all levels have failed us," he said.
He also emphasized that at the Area council levels, scholarship is only awarded to the children of members of political parties in government or the children of the elites.
"Our children study under harsh economic situation, trekking to schools, going to farm, before they can pay their school fees or buy handout or type assignments. Our daughters have taken to prostitution. A trip through any of the major- streets, parks or offices in Abuja, what you see is Gbagyi girls hawking groundnuts, corn (maize), we are the drawers of water and hewers of wood on our own land, while we watch individuals come from far and near becoming rich, doing business with our lands and on our land. Our politicians are not giving us quality representation, why is the Gbagyi man not lucky?" A rhetorical question.
According to Iyako Joseph (MBA), "Are we cursed? Why are we always sending our second or third eleven, instead of our first eleven? Perhaps, the first eleven have failed, or just self-centered. Abuja as at today, has no ministerial appointment, one ambassadorial posting at our back yard. What is the value of our votes at elections? There are about 55 university institutions many Colleges of Education and polytechnics, non is headed by a Gbagyi man in spite of the fact that we have about 15 Gbagyi professors in Nigeria’s higher institutions. Politics has caused this," he claimed.
A students of Federal College of Education, Zuba said in its over 12 years of existence, the institution is yet to be headed by a Gbagyi man or an indigene.
"No Gbagyi man or indigene is in the management position of the college. Our people are showing lack of interest in the institution that is ours. May be that is why the College is yet to have the legal status that established it. Though the bill for such was presented to the National Assembly in the last administration, it got there and died. Today the same bill is waiting for the harmonisation of the two houses. Will it survive, will it be thrown out, yet we have representatives in both chambers. What a fearful implication," the young man voiced.
Price Gbaiza also urged the government to in a matter of urgency, take a keen look at the plight of the Gbagyi people in the FCT to prevent the uneducated and unemployed youths from becoming a weapon in the hands of politicians who would seize the opportunity to use them for violence.
"The implication of not resolving this problem is that Abuja in time to come, could be like the Niger delta when Gbagyi youth who are dropouts, half- educated, take up arms against government, the elites and politicians. They are a security threat. The outcome is better imagined than experienced, our culture is being adulterated by the mixture of other nationalities. The right thing should be done at the right time. We are an endangered species."