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ANALYSIS: Nawaikula Lives In A Time Warp

Lawyer and SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula lives in a time capsule. His mind is set on a political ideology totally oblivious to the reality on the ground. And he thinks
21 Jul 2015 10:28
ANALYSIS: Nawaikula Lives In A Time Warp
Lawyer and SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula and Fiji Sun Managing Editor-Training Nemani Delaibatiki.

Lawyer and SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula lives in a time capsule.

His mind is set on a political ideology totally oblivious to the reality on the ground.

And he thinks that every iTaukei thinks like him.

He attacked my column titled “iTaukei, Land Rights & Interest in Good hands,” and called it a lie.

He questions my conscience whether I believe in what I have been writing because I am iTaukei.

Yes, Mr Nawaikula, I believe in what I write because we need to change our attitude if we want to progress.

 

Great Council of Chiefs

The Great Council of Chiefs benefitted only a few, the elite and their hangers-on. It became a hotbed for different political agendas. Its shortcomings were exposed in the political upheaval since the 1987 military coups.

Many ordinary iTaukei were used as political pawns in a power struggle to prop up an old order that was losing its influence and grip on the people. Only Mr Nawaikula and his cohorts are missing the GCC. Many iTaukei don’t miss it at all.

Since the abolition of the GCC and the promulgation of the new Constitution, no iTaukei rights or land has been taken away as claimed by Mr Nawaikula.

The preamble to the Constitution recognises the indigenous people or the iTaukei, their ownership of iTaukei lands, their unique culture, customs, traditions and language. This is reinforced in section 28. So the iTaukei rights and ownership of their land are protected.

There is a new lie being spread by Opposition elements that the drawing of village boundary is a ploy for Government to take away land outside the boundary. Since the Constitution came into effect, no iTaukei land has been grabbed by Government. In fact what has happened is that many iTaukei are seeing unprecedented infrastructure development happening in their province.

 

iTaukei Affairs

Ministry of iTaukei Affairs still exists. But changes have been introduced to make administration of provincial councils more effective and more responsive to the needs of the people. The changes are designed to strengthen villages, their culture and traditions and their governance. Mr Nawaikula obviously does not like the changes and is stuck in a time warp. Many iTaukei want to see better service delivery from their provincial offices.

Land issues

The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) and the Land Bank give iTaukei landowners flexibility to lease their land for commercial purposes. The fact that the PM Voreqe Bainimarama, an iTaukei himself, and a member of a landowning unit, chairs the TLTB should not alarm Mr Nawaikula.

The TLTB in previous governments has always undergone political scrutiny. Nothing much has changed there. What has changed, though, is the improvement and diversification of services as the TLTB continues to evolve to bring better return for the landowners through profitable land use.

iTaukei still own most of the country’s land and their culture and institutions are still intact. They are in the driver’s seat and are in a much better position than the Aborigines in Australia, Maori in New Zealand and the American Indians. They are not victims like Mr Nawaikula and others would like to think.

With the reforms and development taking place there is, as the PM said, no better time to be an iTaukei. Unless you are living in an old-order time warp like Mr Nawaikula.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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