Northern Nigerian Breaking News

President of MacArthur Foundation bags traditional title in FCT

Prof. John Palfrey, President of John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, has been conferred with a traditional title as the ‘Byefeche ’Nugba’ of the indigenous people of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The title, which means ‘Hero of Justice’ for the FCT indigenous inhabitants, was conferred on Palfrey by Sa’ Peyi Garki (Chief of Garki), Alhaji Usman Nga-Kupi on Monday in Abuja.

Nga-Kupi explained during the ceremony that Palfrey was honoured in recognition of his achievements and contributions to nation-building and grassroots development in the FCT.

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He said that MacArthur Foundation had impacted significantly on FCT communities, especially the youths, and appealed for continuity for more people to benefit.

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“Having seen the role and the impact the community has derived from you, we said we should also say thank you.

“We equally urge you to invest in agriculture and other job creation ventures to support the current drive to diversify the nation’s economy and create employment,” he said.

The Secretary of the Garki Traditional Council, Mr Lazarus Nyaholo, explained that Palfrey recognition was strictly on merit.

Nyaholo added that Palfrey was the first foreigner to be conferred with the title in the nearly 600 years existence of the chiefdom.

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He said that the foundation’s numerous interventions have drawn attention to the people’s protracted struggles against marginalisation and exclusion for decades, since the relocation of Nigeria’s capital from Lagos to Abuja.

“The beauty of MacArthur’s projects lies mainly in the capacity it built on our people to directly advocate on issues bordering on our political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

“More importantly, 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 and the period of forced or underage marriage in the FCT is over,” he said.

The secretary also said that persons with disabilities equally enjoyed some level of inclusion courtesy of the foundation’s interventions, including the resuscitation of the preservation of FTC’s cultural heritage.

In the political scene, Nyaholo said that the foundation’s interventions on advocacy for inclusive governance and participation also contributed to the appointment of their son as a minister in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.

He added that another son was appointed as a Mandate Secretary among other special advisers and directors in FCT Administration.

“We now have a voice and representation in the Federal Executive Council, and we have also been appointed as Mandate Secretaries equal to state commissioners, Special Advisers, and Directors at the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

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“These are some benefits that eluded us for the past 47 years due to political isolation and social exclusion,” the secretary said.

Responding, Palfrey thanked the FCT people for the recognition saying, “I am very glad to accept this high honour on behalf of our team who work here, in Abuja.

“We at MacArthur Foundation, honour and respect the important role played by traditional institutions in Nigeria and around the world, in maintaining law and order, settling disputes, encouraging education, and encouraging healthy behaviours.

“We see you as the foundation of society that survives, in every transition of government in Nigeria and around the world.

“MacArthur Foundation is a global foundation, and whether we are at home in the United States of America in Chicago, or Abuja, we acknowledge and honour indigenous communities.”

In her remarks, Mrs Abiodun Essien, Senior Special Assistant to the President Tinubu on Community Engagement, commended the traditional ruler for the gesture.

Essien said that Palfrey’s exceptional leadership and initiatives give voice to the voiceless, adding that his recognition serves as a testament to the importance of justice in society. (NAN)


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