The family is threatening to break, again. The children, 36 of them, are back to quarreling. But this time, they have clustered into regional camps, singing discordant tunes and clamoring for their voices to be heard regarding the proposed relocation of key departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), alongside the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to Lagos.
CBN’s Decision to Relocate
Tacitly, CBN has said that their Abuja Head Office is already full even beyond the safe occupancy limit. Imagine a building designed to hold 2700 people already filled with 4233 and counting. Imagine an organization with half its staff working in distant states, yet camped in Abuja. To do meaningful work, they have to go to and fro like a swinging pendulum.
That’s not all though. The CBN also provide oversight to commercial banks in the country. And an overwhelming majority of them have headquarters located in Lagos. Based on this, isn’t it logical that certain departments of the apex bank, like the banking, and financial institutions supervision units, involved with commercial banks be around where the action is? Now, the apex bank wants to redistribute its staff with regards to these concerns, and some, for reasons best known to them, are crying wolf.
FAAN’s Decision to Relocate
For FAAN, it’s much worse. Sometime in 2020, FAAN had its headquarters in Lagos, where over 60% of its operations were conducted. But the Former Minister of Aviation said that was not to be. Without any groundwork laid, he demanded their relocation, alongside that of other aviation agencies, to Abuja. To a place where at that time no aviation agency, aside from the NIMET had a completely functional office.
Even now, the FAAN still lacks an administrative building in the FCT, with majority of the relocated staff forced to return to and continue working in Lagos. Each staff recieves a compensatory Duty Tour Allowance, alongside their salary because they are constrained to work out of their stations. Either this continues or the agency could decide to rent a private building in the Abuja environs, convert it to an administrative office, and conduct its operations from there. Still, both actions would gulp a lot of money—tax payer’s money.
The Children’s Argument
The Northern Senators Forum has argued against it. Overlooking the above reasons, which they believe is unconvincing enough, they say this action, alongside their perceived lopsidedness in the 2024 budgetary allocation is part of an underlying insidious plan to under-develop the north. Even the Arewa Consultative Forum, has a similar opinion. They say “it (the relocation) fits into a disturbing pattern of antagonistic actions often taken by certain federal administrations against the interest of northern…”
Afenifere, the self-proclaimed mouthpiece of the Yoruba’s, and the Middle Belt Forum, berates such thinking. According to them, their northern brothers should be patriotic, and support what’s best for the nation. However, I think this is disingenuous because previously, they also have cried wolf over an alleged ‘Islamization’ or ‘northenization’ of the country.
Yet, that’s not all. The Ijaw Youth Council’s Erstwhile President, riding on the wave of public reactions, are clamoring that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. His own opinion: if the CBN and FAAN can decide to relocate to Lagos, citing logistical reasons, isn’t it natural that the NNPC move the headquarters of some of its subsidiaries to the states in the Niger Delta. Even some have run rouge to suggest there is an ongoing sinister plot to relocate the Federal Capital Territory to Lagos, the political base of the president. And on, and on, the differing opinions linger.
Any end in sight?
Finally, who will settle their quarrel, for their father, the President, and the settler-of-quarrels in the Ondo and Rivers, is not home. He is in faraway France, on a private visit, and no one knows yet when he will be back. Perhaps, he probably left them to huff and puff. They always do that. Maybe, they will reach a compromise. Maybe, CBN and FAAN will rescind their decision, and maintain the status quo. What will happen in the coming days, only time can reveal. But one thing is certain, the children will yet quarrel again.
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