The president of the John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, Prof. John Palfrey, has been conferred with the chieftaincy title of ‘Byefeche Nugba’ of Garki Kingdom, which translates to ‘Hero of Justice for Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Original Inhabitants’.
Speaking at the coronation held at his palace yesterday in Abuja, the Sa’Peyi of Garki, Alhaji Usman Nga Kupi, commended Prof. Palfrey and the MacArthur Foundation team in Chicago and Abuja, for helping the neglected natives in the FCT to find their voice.
The monarch commended the MacArthur Foundation for deeming it important to invest in building the capacity of the original inhabitants of the FCT.
He also commended the foundation for deeming it important to invest in building the capacity of the original inhabitants of the FCT, to enable them to lawfully advocate for their political, economic and cultural rights for a better society.
“I will also request from you Mr President, to invest in other sectors like agriculture, industry among others and support the present government, they are trying to diversify the economy and create employment,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the FCT Traditional Council, the Secretary of the Garki Kingdom, Lazarus Nyaholo, said, “I am delighted to say that in the last two years of MacArthur Foundation’s intervention through the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory have witnessed a lot of impactful activities implemented by indigenous organizations coordinated by CHRICED.
“As a traditional institution, we can affirm that these efforts have touched our lives as Original Inhabitants in several respects. The beauty of this project lies in the capacity of FCT indigenous organizations facilitated by CHRICED, to directly advocate on the issues bordering on our political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Importantly too, our traditional justice system has been strengthened to address sexual and gender-based violence.
“Today, it is difficult for any man in the FCT to molest a woman or a girl. The period of forced or underage marriage in the FCT is over. The original inhabitants of Abuja have also seen what it means to include persons with disabilities in all aspects. Original Inhabitants with Disabilities (OIPWDs) in the FCT not only have a voice but have also benefited greatly from the project’s capacity building and support,” Nyaholo said.
Responding, Prof. Palfrey thanked the Sa’Peyi of Garki and members of the council for the honour of the chieftaincy conferred on him. He noted that traditional institutions all over the world were important for shaping behaviour and ensuring progress.
Also, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Community Engagement, Mrs Abiodun Essien, commended the traditional ruler for conferimg the title on Prof. Palfrey for his exceptional leadership and initiatives that gave voice to the voiceless.