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MacArthur Foundation donates N800m to NGOs working on FCT original inhabitants

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An international human development organisation, MacArthur Foundation has awarded N800 million grant to 11 human rights groups working on issues concerning the original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.

But the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education has awarded its N80 million to Mairo Women Foundation Ushafa for the promotion of awareness of cultural treasures for FCT original inhabitants.

The Executive Director of CHRICED, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, told The PUNCH when he led his team of to the Pottery Centre.

MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions and influential networks building a more just, verdant and peaceful world.

Zikirullahi said, “N80,000,000 was awarded by CHRICED to Mairo Women Foundation Ushafa to promote awareness of cultural treasures for FCT original inhabitants. The specific objectives of the project are to revamp the dying cultural values, treasures, and repositories through pottery, crafts, visual arts, festivals and other cultural forms of the FCT original inhabitants.

“The N80,000,000 is part of N800,000,000 award to 11 organisations and groups working on FCT original inhabitant issues by CHRICED, with support of MacArthur Foundation. The grant is for two years from October 1, 2021 until September 30 2023.”

During the visit, stakeholders urged government to urgently intervene to save the facility from total collapse.

Zikirullahi described the facility as an important means of survival for a number of the original inhabitants of Abuja, especially women.

He said, “We are talking about a pottery Centre that is behind the biggest water dam in the FCT yet the potters suffer acute shortage of water supply without no provision of pipe-borne water or borehole systems.

“Besides water, lack of access to steady electricity and raw clay is a major challenge for the centre.

“It’s also appalling that even in the 21st century every process in the facility is manually done, and we feel very strongly that if the government really wants to support, there are so many things that they can do to help.

“We, therefore, call on the government at all levels to come to the aid of the Ushafa Pottery Centre and ensure that the modern gadgets they need to do their work effectively and sustainably are provided for them.”

A retired manager of the Pottery Centre, Tanko Dako, lamented the lack of modern equipments especially a functional kiln in the center, describing pottery making as a profitable and sustainable business.

He said, “Even with the deplorable state of the centre, a potter can produce 150 beer mugs each day, and if they are all sold for N2,000 each, that would be a huge source of income for the artist.

“So, we can only imagine what economic impact the pottery centre can have on the livelihood of the people when the facility is in perfect shape and production is scaled to a mass level using modern technology.”

The Executive Director of Mairo Women Foundation, Maryam Barnabas, said that the facility was gradually descending into a shadow of its former self due to negligence.

She told government to swiftly intervene to save the centre from complete decadence.

While commending CHRICED for its intervention, Barnabas said that the goal of the project was to empower indigenous women with artistic skills for producing various pottery works of value and aesthetics.

According to her, about 10 new functional pottery centres would be established in various parts of the FCT in the two years.

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