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That some ethnic champions are kicking against the planned relocation of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) head office to Lagos, where it was before the last administration forced its movement to Abuja and the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to also move its Departments including its Banking Supervision to Lagos is not surprising and does not in any way diminishes the good intention and merits in the principled administrative decision.
We, are therefore, totally in support of the relocation not only because it is in the national interest and will not in any way undermine any section of the country, but positively affect the lives of Nigerians and institutions who genuinely demand their services and enhance greater cohesiveness of the government’s agencies. In addition, the federal government should proceed with the decision, ignore the barrage of criticisms and ethnic sentiments that have trailed the move.
Recall that some mischief-makers, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF and some politicians from the North, including Chief Whip of the 10th Senate, Mohammed Ali Ndume, had publicly opposed the proposal on the parochial ground that it was targeted against their region thereby fueling needless ethnic mistrust, and misinterpretation of the progressive decision of the CBN and the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.
We note with concern that Ndume, representing Borno South senatorial zone had even thrown caution to the wind in his reaction, when he warned President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of ‘political consequences’ in future if the proposal is not reversed. Furthermore, alleging that the president was being misled by a cartel of ‘Lagos Boys,’ the senator reportedly declared that “Some of them think that they know better than everybody. But, they don’t know anything. When you don’t know Nigeria, you only know Lagos, then you start doing things as if Nigeria is Lagos. Lagos is in Nigeria. That’s a wrong decision”.
But the lawmaker not surprisingly though, seems to be ignorant of the primary essence of government which is the wellbeing and security of the citizens who voted public officers to power and refused to think like a statesman as recommended by James Freeman Clarke: that while “politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation”.
In other words, Ndume and his fellow travelers ought to have considered the cost benefits of the new proposal to Nigerians before jumping to the conclusion that it was skewed against northern interest because before now, there are many federal parastatals that are not based in Abuja depending on their mandate but rendering uninterrupted efficient services to the people who care very little about their locations.
For instance, the headquarters of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), have been in Lagos for decades without anyone protesting even as the headquarters of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been in Lokoja, while that of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which was commissioned by immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari is in Yenagoa capital of Bayelsa State.
We want to remind these ethnic promoters that the decision to relocate the affected offices is purely administrative that should not be politicized by the people and those who wish Nigeria well. After all, our citizens desire nothing but good governance that positively impacts their lives and not the divisive narrative of a few politicians and others bent on promoting sectional interest and dangerous politics aimed at pitching the North against the South as opposed to the national interest and the common good.
In case these promoters have forgotten, Lagos which served as the nation’s federal capital from independence in 1960 till August 14, 1991, remains the financial, commercial centre and the aviation hub with the headquarters of 96 per cent of all banks in Nigeria located in the mega city.
Therefore, in our view, the relocation of the staff of the Departments of the CBN, who often travel to Lagos to check their books at the headquarters from Abuja at public expense and huge personal risk will save cost and ensure higher productivity henceforth if they they have the directorates in Lagos. Similarly, FAAN should be nowhere else but near the industry it regulates since it still maintains some presence in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Above all, moving employees to the Lagos office to streamline operations, make them more effective and reduce cost we believe is a normal prerogative of management. It is however gratifying that some patriotic Nigerians among them a former Governor of the CBN and deposed Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Senator Sunday Karimi who represents Kogi West in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly have distanced themselves from Ndume’s unguarded viewpoint on the issue and justified the relocation, listing its benefits, and cautioned against reading ethnic sentiments to the decision.
According to Sanusi, “individual situations should be considered. As much as possible we should be empathetic. For example, young mothers with kids in school who do not need to move can be prioritised to stay in Abuja or those with medical conditions etc … My advice to the CBN Governor is to go ahead with his policy. Once the CBN starts bending to political pressure on one thing, it will continue doing so. Northern politicians will shout that this is moving from Abuja to Lagos. Abuja is a federal capital, not a northern issue. So long as this is a principled decision, the noise should be ignored”.
We strongly demand that both the CBN Governor Mr. Olayemi Cardoso should not bow to any political pressure but push through the proposal to relocate the Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection Department, Payment System Management Department, and Financial Policy Regulations Department as soon as practicable while the Aviation and Aerospace Development Minister, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, should toe the same path in making the relocation of FAAN head office to Lagos a reality.
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