The controversy generated by the Federal Government’s relocation of the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, and some departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to Lagos State is not yet over.
members of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, are expected to meet today, Monday, in Abuja, where they will take a definite stand on the contentious issue.
It could be recalled that an internal memo issued by FAAN’s Managing Director, Olubunmi Kuku, Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Festus Keyamo had directed the relocation of FAAN headquarters to Lagos.
In the same vein, CBN had detailed a decongestant action plan designed to optimise its operational environment by relocating some key units to Lagos.
Some of the departments of the apex bank relocated to Lagos are the Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection Department, Payment System Management Department, and Financial Policy Regulations Department.
The decision was vehemently rejected by a cross section of Northerners, who alleged that the move was part of a plot to further under-develop the region.
One of the the first persons to kick against it was the Chief Whip of the Senate, Ali Ndume, who said it was influenced by ‘political cartels’ within the government.
Mr Ndume, the senator representing Borno South, said the ‘cartels’ are offering wrong advice to President Bola Tinubu to mislead him on implementing some wrong policies.
Mr Ndume threatened that if the president fails to reverse the move to relocate the two agencies to Lagos, it would brew a political crisis in the country.
“They are not doing any favour to Mr President because this will have political consequences,” he stated.
Prior to the Senator’s assertion, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF had condemned the relocation of the two government agencies, claiming that the decision was to further under-develop the northern part of the country
Similarly, the Northern Senators Forum, NSF also threatened legal action against the federal government if the relocations of the offices were not reversed.
The controversy extended to the Southern part of the country, with the regional groups taking different positions.
Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum meet
on Sunday that members of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, are expected to meet today, Monday, February 5, 2024, in Abuja to deliberate on the matter.
In the meeting to be attended by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, as well as South South and Middle Belt leaders, they are expected to state their common position on the lingering controversy.
A source, who does not want to be mentioned but familiar with the meeting, said leaders in the three geo-political zones have decided to deliberate on the matter and take a unified position.
“As you know, Nigeria doesn’t belong to just Yoruba and Northerners. We are all citizens of the country so our voices should also matter in the decision making.
“We are going to thoroughly talk about this matter and other pressing issues that bother national unity”, he said.
The source, while expressing worry with the stance of some Northern leaders, said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, headquarters ought to be relocated to any of the oil producing states.
The proposed FAAN, CBN relocation will be fiercely resisted – Arewa Youths vow
Reacting to the relocation move, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, a prominent youth organisation in Northern Nigeria vowed that any attempt to interfere with the original plan of the nation’s capital will be fiercely resisted.
AYCF President General Yerima Shettima told DAILY POST that the planned relocation “posed a significant threat” to Abuja’s status as the capital city and could have negative implications for the nation as a whole.
Shettima expressed concerns that the FG’s decision could trigger potential consequences, emphasising that it “risks undermining national unity, disrupting operations, causing economic setbacks, and perpetuating regional imbalances”.
According to him, Abuja was “deliberately chosen as the capital to promote national unity and decentralise power.
“Any agenda that seeks to tamper with this arrangement will be fiercely resisted by AYCF and its supporters”.
Shettima further expressed his disappointment with the “complicit silence of the Northern elite regarding these provocations”, stressing that the Northern elite “must not be silent when the political and economic viability of Northern Nigeria is at stake.
The AYCF called on the relevant authorities to reconsider the proposed relocations in light of the “potential harm they may cause to Abuja’s status as the capital city and the nation as a whole”.
He urged decision-makers to prioritise national unity and ensure that any actions taken do not perpetuate regional imbalances or compromise the political and economic viability of Northern Nigeria.
“We remain committed to our mission of promoting unity and development in Northern Nigeria and the nation as a whole.
“We will continue to advocate for the preservation of Abuja’s status as the capital city and to resist any attempts to undermine national unity”, Shettima added.
Southeast treated as conquered territory, relocate FAAN to Enugu – Ohanaeze chieftain to FG
Chucks Ibegbu, a chieftain and immediate past deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide told DAILY POST that there is structural and social injustice against the people of the Southeast.
According to him, “there is no federal presence in the Southeast. We are always treated as a conquered territory. The North and West are treating us as if we are conquered people.
“Southeast has the least number of states and local governments. What is wrong if the FG relocates at least one of the ministries or agencies to Enugu?
“Is Enugu, Aba, Umuahia not in Nigeria? They claimed that there is an international airport in Enugu, there is no evidence of an international airport in Enugu, only one restricted airline.
“The government should relocate the FAAN to Enugu, CBN to Aba. There is nothing wrong with that. We are also part of the country.
“The truth is that there is social, political and structural injustice against the Southeast.
“Some of our politicians here are only interested in their pockets; they don’t fight for their people and that is why the North and the West are taking advantage of us.
“North and the West have been rotating even the presidency within themselves as if those in the Southeast are onlookers. The truth about it is that we are not treated well in this country.”
Chucks, however, said Nigerians should channel their grievances to more pressing issues bedevilling the nation, lamenting the hardship birthed by the removal of fuel subsidy.
“The problem with Nigerians is that they leave the substance and pursue shadow. The relocation of FAAN headquarters and parts of CBN to Lagos has nothing to do with food on our table.
“Since the fuel subsidy was removed many people have been dying but they are not talking about that”, he added.
When contacted by DAILY POST on Saturday, Ohanaeze spokesman, Alex Ogbonna declined speaking on the matter, saying the position of Southeast would be made known after the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum meeting on Monday.
He said, “I don’t want to preempt what they will be saying during the meeting.
“By Monday morning, we will state our position on that and we will make our position known to the general public through a communique”.
Nothing wrong with moving FAAN headquarters, CBN units to Lagos – Afenifere
Amid the controversy shrouding the FG’s move, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere has said that relocating the FAAN headquarters and CBN units to Lagos was in the best interest of Nigerians.
The Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi told DAILY POST that there was nothing wrong with the decision of the FG.
He said, “To us in Afenifere, we don’t see anything wrong with it. The Federal Government has not done anything wrong by trying to relocate FAAN headquarters and CBN units to Lagos State.
“The relocation matter didn’t just start in Tinubu’s administration. It all started from Muhammadu Buhari’s regime but it was not completed. Tinubu should be commended for not abandoning projects that started from the previous administration.”
According to him, those opposing the decision are those who are afraid of moving from their comfort zone in Abuja.
“It is not peculiar to Nigeria. If you go to South Africa, you will understand that the judiciary, the legislature and the executive are not in one location.
“It is not about who is in power, we want the administration to succeed so anything that will make the country work, we are ready to support it.
“If it was something that would harm the country, we would say it without considering whether the president is from our region or not. We will even be the first to condemn such a move”, he added.
However, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo on Wednesday declared that there was no going back on the decision to move the headquarters of FAAN to Lagos.
Addressing the controversy when he appeared on Channels TV, Keyamo simply said, “We are going ahead. The directive has been given”.
The Minister said “the whole issue was compounded with the fact that FAAN is not yet digitised and so, in one year, they spend half a billion naira on a flight ticket between Lagos and Abuja alone.”
“You see them flying every day to-and-fro Abuja to get one file signed. They fly back and forth. In one year, they spent close to half a billion naira on flight tickets. N450m on flight tickets alone,” he said.