January 21, 2024

ACF protests planned relocation of CBN units, FAAN hqtrs to Lagos

ACF protests planned relocation of CBN units, FAAN hqtrs to Lagos
…alleges it’s a ploy to draw North Backward
By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, Kaduna

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has alleged that the planned relocation of CBN units and FAAN Headquarters to Lagos by the incumbent administration, was a deliberate ploy to underdevelop the Northern region. 

The ACF, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Prof Tukur Muhammad Baba stated that decades ago, the seat of the capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was moved from Lagos to Abuja for reasons that remain valid, and was  constitutional even as of  today.

According to the ACF, “The management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), recently announced plans to relocate some of its key departments from Abuja to Lagos, understandably sparking a wave of anxiety and outcry from many Nigerians, especially Northerners who, obviously would be most adversely affected by the spontaneous exercise.”

‘The CBN’s decision is no means isolated or normal administrative action to fix some logistics problem. Rather, it fits into a disturbing pattern of antagonistic actions often taken by certain federal administrations against the interests of Northern and other parts of Nigeria.

“The CBN’s announcements was followed by another from the Federal Ministry of Aviation’s Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) plans to also relocate to Lagos, due to shortage of office space and claim of the volume of air traffic handled by Lagos. The proposed actions of the two agencies, i.e. CBN and FAAN are precipitous and mala fide.  Still on the Ministry of Aviation, only 8 of 40 directors recently appointed are from the North! ” 

“As if deliberately designed to be made public in drip-drip fashion, a leaked letter to the Minister of Aviation from a contractor, AVSATEL, became public, wherein the company sought permission to relocate the project for refurbishing Airport Recue and Fire Fighting Vehicles (ARFF) from Katsina to “the south” or Abuja, but sneakily mentioning Lagos, Ibadan or Enugu. AVSATEL sought to rationalise its suggestion on issues that should must have been in the scope of the works when the company bided for the job but which it clearly ignored then. “

“It is easy to ignore such planned actions by the CBN and FAAN (and AVSATEL), but it is impossible to fail to see in them a clear pattern of thinly disguised marginalisation of the North. Nor is the grand strategy entirely new. President Obasanjo’s first action in office in 1999, was to order the relocation of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), from Abuja, the federal capital, to Lagos. Today almost all agencies and institutions responsible for the marine economy and especially the sea ports, are concentrated at Lagos, which retains undisturbed monopoly over port operations and sea traffic in and out of Nigeria, even as Calabar, Uyo and Port Harcourt offer as much if not better facilities.”

“When therefore the public condemns such obsession with relocation to Lagos, it is clearly reacting against a disturbing pattern of swindle perpetrated by some federal government officials against sections of the country.

“Northern Nigeria in particular has long lived under the shadow of these threats and has endured a series of calamities as a result. It was only the successful discovery and exploration of oil along the Kolmani River, in Gombe State, that discredited the propaganda that oil does not exist in the North. 

“The vile propaganda was to discourage the investment of resources looking for oil up North. Sadly, such has also been the case with a number of other federal projects meant to be located anywhere in the North, such as dredging of rivers Niger and Benue (so that the North remains landlocked), Mambila Hydroelectric Dam (Kainji and Shiroro are dams too many to be up North!), grazing reserves for the development of the livestock sub-sector, to list but a few. For decades, certain powerful interests within the Federal Government, who seem scared of the North, have refused to allow the projects to be undertaken.” 

“Given all of the above and more, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) remains unconvinced that the government agencies trying to relocate to Lagos will be doing so on any noble grounds. ACF calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the National Assembly, to call on those agencies to retrace their steps and apply other honest means of addressing the alleged over-crowding in offices. Against the situation in Lagos, there is plenty of land in the Federal Capital Territory for expansion of office and other infrastructural facilities and such factors should not be used to obfuscate sinister motives.”

“Katsina remains the location of the ARFF, as in the original scope of works. AVSATEL should not try to hoodwink the FGN with untenable drivels designed to shortchange the North.”

‘ACF wishes to remind all concerned that decades ago, the seat of the capital of the Federal Republic was moved from Lagos to Abuja for reasons that remain valid, it is constitutional even more so today, constitutionally so, although, of course, a section of the country never liked the decision.,” ACF added.