Outrage yesterday trailed Northern senators’ position on the relocation of federal agencies to Lagos from Abuja.
The senators had, aside from expressing angst against relocation of the agencies, also protested what they described as lopsided allocation between the North and South in the 2024 budget, arguing that the development was designed to further under-develop the North.
But regional groups, such as the Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, flayed the senators for giving the impression that Nigeria wasn’t yet a nation, stressing that what was paramount was the result.
It will be recalled that the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, had also expressed the same position as the Northern senators.
“The CBN’s decision is by 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 announcement was followed by another from the Federal Ministry of Aviation’s Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN’s plans to also relocate to Lagos due to shortage of office claim of the volume of traffic handled by Lagos.
‘’The proposed actions of the two agencies, CBN and FAAN, are precipitous and mala fide,” said ACF in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Professor Tukur Baba.
Similarly, senators from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT under the aegis of Northern Senators Forum, NSF, also yesterday kicked against the allocation and distribution of funds in the 2024 budget and relocation of some federal agencies to Lagos.
In a statement by the spokesman, Senator Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (NNPP, Kano South), the senators said they had concluded arrangements to engage the executive arm of government, the National Assembly and stakeholders to address the issues,
Sumaila said as representatives of the people, the senators were committed to addressing the concerns and feelings of their constituents regarding certain decisions and policies put forth by the Federal Government, including what they described as lopsidedness in the distribution and allocation of resources in the 2024 budget, and relocation of some federal agencies from Abuja to Lagos.
He assured their constituents that they (senators) had taken their concerns seriously and were at the moment, actively engaging with their colleagues in order to address the matter effectively. He also said the senators firmly believed in the power of open dialogue and collaboration to bring about positive change for the country.
Sumaila ‘s statement read: “As representatives of the people at the national level (Senate), we are committed to addressing the concerns and feelings of our constituents regarding certain decisions and policies put forth by the federal government – lopsidedness in the distribution and allocation of resources in the 2024 budget, relocation of some federal agencies from Abuja to Lagos.
“We understand the importance of fostering a harmonious relationship between the government and its citizens, and it is in this spirit that we are announcing our collective efforts to seek an amicable people and their government, and it is with great responsibility and dedication that we undertake this task.
“We acknowledge that our constituents have shown great patience and trust in our abilities thus far. It is now our turn to ask for their continued support and understanding during this critical juncture. Together, we can work towards resolving the issues at hand and restoring faith in our democratic process resolution to these pressing issues, within the confines of our constitution and existing laws.
“First and foremost, let us assure our constituents that we have taken their concerns seriously and are actively engaging with our colleagues to address these matters effectively. We firmly believe in the power of open dialogue and collaboration to bring about positive change for our nation.
“Throughout our term in office, our primary objective has been to advocate for the well-being and best interests of those we represent. We recognize the significance of our role as a bridge between the s.
“We urge our constituents to remain patient as we diligently explore avenues for dialogue, engage in peaceful negotiations, and deploy legal measures where necessary. Rest assured, our actions align with the constitutional framework and the laws of the land, as we endeavour to uphold justice and fairness.
“We believe that through effective communication, mutual respect, and a shared vision, we can forge a path that leads to positive change.
‘’We will engage the executive branch of the government and the leadership of the Senate and relevant stakeholders to actively listen to the concerns of Nigerians and provide updates on our progress.
‘’We encourage everyone to participate in these channels of communication, ensuring that their voices are heard and their perspectives valued.
“In conclusion, we, as representatives of the people, are fully committed to resolving the pressing issues at hand. We ask for your continued support, trust, and patience as we work towards delivering positive outcomes for our constituents and upholding the values enshrined in our constitution.”
Afenifere slams Northern senators, says they should be concerned about results
Countering the Northern senators yesterday, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Jare Ajayi, said it is on record that some departments of the agencies were originally in Lagos.
Ajayi added that Afenifere does not see anything wrong with the planned relocation if it will enhance the agencies’ performance.
His words: “It is on record that some of those departments of the CBN and FAAN were originally in Lagos. We even understand that the structure for some of those departments were constructed during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. It is not as if this administration is starting something new.
“In many countries, there are some government agencies that are spread to various parts of the country. In this particular case, we don’t see anything wrong with it. Each of these departments is manned by officers from various parts of this country.
“What should be uppermost in the minds of all Nigerians is performance. As an organisation, we do not encourage nepotism and we do not say that projects should be concentrated in a particular area.”
In its reaction, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said it is myopic and unpatriotic for anyone to claim the Federal Government is on a mission to underdevelop the North by relocating any agency of government from Abuja to the Lagos or the South.
Reacting to the protest by some Northern groups over the matter, the National President of the MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said the protest is an indication that Nigeria is yet to attain the status of a nation.
He said: “It is unfortunate that this country has not become a nation yet. Up till now, some people only think of themselves, their enclave, their tribe, their religion and not Nigeria.
“Some of these agencies are better there in Lagos. Where is our stock exchange? So if you relocate something or organisation that has its command to Lagos, does it take away anything from the North? Has the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, been taken from the North to the South? It is not even the North, Abuja is central Nigeria and not North. That is why the Gbagi and others were told that there is nothing like tribal group in Abuja. It is the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, for everybody in Nigeria.
“So if some functions and agencies are taken to the South, it doesn’t amount to anything, it does not amount to witch-hunting the North. So we should not be reasoning in this manner against the South.
“I recall that before former President Buhari left office, almost 90 per cent of the top echelon of the NNPC was made up of Northerners. And up till now, a very significant number are Northerners.
‘’Have Southerners said that the fact the crude oil is got from the South or South South, Northerners should not occupy those positions? So it is myopic and unpatriotic for people to talk in that manner.”
However, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said yesterday it didn’t have the facts concerning the alarm raised by the Northern senators and will, therefore, not make any categorical statement. Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, said: “Well, the truth is that we have not got the exact situation about that matter, whether they are actually speculations that government is trying to do that.
“We have heard about some departments in CBN and, of course, FAAN. So our attitude is that we will not just comment on issues we are not sure of. We don’t want to react to issues based on speculations.”
Reacting yesterday, South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, said: “There is nothing wrong with relocating some departments of the CBN to Lagos. Who did they consult when they moved the Navy to Kano, when they brought the Shippers House and the Nigeria Maritime Authority, NMA, to Abuja before former President Olusegun Obasanjo moved them to Lagos?
“Northerners should realise that Abuja does not belong to them, it belongs to everyone, hence they are fighting Nyesom Wike because they believe that FCT belongs only to them, they are 19 states, others are 17, the place is for all of us.
“Let us stay in peace, the Northern senators and Northerners should not provoke anyone. Abuja belongs to all and that explains why we said that the head offices of Shell, Chevron, Agip, others should be where the oil is coming from, like in Delta, Eket, others.”