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Northern Nigeria’s Outrage over Relocation of Key Agencies to Lagos

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The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has accused the federal government of plotting to undermine the development of the northern region by relocating some key departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the headquarters of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos.

The ACF, a prominent socio-cultural group that represents the interests of the northern states, said the move was part of a disturbing pattern of marginalization and discrimination against the north by some federal agencies.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the ACF said the decision to relocate the CBN units and FAAN headquarters to Lagos was not based on any rational or economic grounds, but rather on a sinister motive to deprive the north of its fair share of federal resources and opportunities.

The ACF also alleged that the relocation was a violation of the constitutional provision that made Abuja the federal capital and the seat of government.

A History of Relocation Controversies

This is not the first time that the issue of relocation of federal agencies from Abuja to Lagos has sparked controversy and resentment among the northern elites and masses.

In 1999, shortly after the return of democracy, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the relocation of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) from Abuja to Lagos, citing the need to revive the maritime and diplomatic sectors.

The decision was met with stiff opposition and protests from the northern leaders, who saw it as an attempt to reverse the historic relocation of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1991.

The relocation of the NPA and NIIA was also challenged in court by some northern groups, who argued that it was unconstitutional and detrimental to the unity and development of the country.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the relocation in 2003, ruling that the president had the power to determine the location of any federal agency in the interest of the nation.

The Implications of the Current Relocation Plan

The ACF said the current plan to relocate some CBN departments and FAAN headquarters to Lagos would have negative implications for the economy and security of the northern region.

The group said the CBN’s decision to decongest its Abuja offices by moving some of its key departments to Lagos would affect the efficiency and accessibility of its services to the northern states, especially in the areas of currency management, banking supervision, and financial inclusion.

The group said the relocation would also create security risks for the northern states, as Lagos is prone to congestion, crime, and environmental hazards.

They also called on the northern governors, legislators, and traditional rulers to unite and resist any attempt to marginalize and impoverish the north.

A Call for Dialogue and Equity

The relocation plan has also drawn mixed reactions from other stakeholders and experts, who have expressed divergent views on its merits and demerits.

Some have supported the plan, arguing that it would boost the economic activities and revenue generation of Lagos, which is the commercial hub and the largest contributor to the national GDP.

They have also pointed out that Lagos has better infrastructure and facilities to host the CBN units and FAAN headquarters, and that the relocation would not affect the operations and functions of the agencies.

Others have opposed the plan, echoing the ACF’s concerns and calling for dialogue and equity in the siting and management of federal agencies and projects.

They have also questioned the timing and rationale of the plan, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession that have hit the country hard.

As Nigeria prepares for the 2023 general elections, the relocation plan could become a major campaign issue and a source of conflict and controversy among the political parties and candidates.

The federal government and the relevant agencies should therefore handle the relocation plan with caution and consultation, and ensure that it does not undermine the unity and stability of the country.

Source: Vanguard 

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