The Presidency has confirmed that Bola Tinubu administration was not planning to relocate the Federal Capital of Nigeria back to Lagos, which was its previous location.
It described the insinuations as a creation of those it called “mischief-makers” bent on “fueling needless ethnic mistrust” to “pit the North against the South.”
This followed the Federal Government’s recent decision to relocate the Department of Banking Supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to Lagos and the directive of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development to relocate the head office of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to Lagos.
Northern senators and youths have expressed displeasure over the move, which they contended was a calculated move to short-change the North.
Amplifying the dissenting voices from the North, the Senator representing Borno South Senatorial, Ali Ndume, said President Tinubu was being misinformed by “political cartels” to make wrong decisions.
Ndume, who spoke during an interview with Channels Television on Tuesday, said the President was being ill-advised by “Lagos boys” in the corridors of power, stressing the planned relocation would have “political consequences.”
But responding to the northern voices on Wednesday, the Presidency in a statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, dismissed claims that the FCT would be relocated from Abuja.
“The status of Abuja as the Federal Capital has come to stay. It is backed by law,” Onanuga, said,
It argued that the “rumours” were a creation of the administration’s political opponents who failed to prevent Tinubu’s ascent to the Presidency.
Onanuga said, “We consider it necessary to inform Nigerians that there is no iota of truth in the interpretations given to the directives in some quarters and the unfounded claims and rumours that President Bola Tinubu is planning to relocate the Federal Capital back to Lagos.
“These rumours, which first surfaced during the electioneering last year, were sponsored by political opponents looking for all manners of weapons to prevent Asiwaju Tinubu from being elected as president by a section of the country.
“Those behind this renewed sordid narrative, using the recent decision of the CBN and FAAN as a pretext to start another round of toxic opposition, are dishonest ethnic and regional champions, trying to draw attention to themselves.”
Onanuga noted that FAAN, an agency of the Ministry of Aviation, was initially headquartered in Lagos before former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, moved its base to Abuja during the immediate-past administration.
He noted that this “does not amount to moving the Federal Capital to Lagos.”
“FAAN will still maintain some presence in Abuja. It is not a wholesale movement,” he noted, adding that the administrative move should have ordinarily attracted scant attention, as Lagos is the commercial capital and the hub of aviation business in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Presidency said the movement of the Department of Banking Supervision of the CBN to Lagos “should not trigger any discord within the polity,” as the department concerned deals with commercial banks, almost all of which are headquartered in Lagos.
Therefore, “All those pushing this campaign of falsehood and misinformation know they are merely playing politics, albeit a dangerous politics, to pit the North against the South,” it said.
Onanuga affirmed that the Tinubu-led administration was “working tirelessly to be just and equitable to every section of the country,” urging restraint on the part of those it called rumour mongers who “distract every government from the noble objective of meeting the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, the Senator representing Kogi-West, Karimi Sunday, on Wednesday, faulted Ndume’s comments on the planned relocation.
Karimi said Ndume’s comment was personal and did not in any way represent the position of the Senate.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, Karimi said it was needless for Ndume to attach ethnic or other sentiments to the relocation of the offices, which he said, was done “for cohesion and better delivery of services.”
He said, “Leaders need to avoid utterances that will heat up the polity and cause division and disaffection amongst the federating units of the country,” adding, “Senator Ndume’s position is personal and doesn’t represent the position of the Nigerian Senate.”
Also, a former spokesperson for former President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe, has cautioned Ndume.
Reacting in an open letter, Okupe said Ndume’s “pronouncement on the above subject matter is provocative and unexpected of a politician of your pedigree and position in the Nigerian polity.”
Meanwhile, a former President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri, has appealed to President Tinubu to consider the relocation of some critical federal agencies involved in the oil business to the Niger Delta region.
Eradiri, who was the Labour Party governorship candidate in last year’s Bayelsa State governorship election, said the decongestion of Abuja was long overdue.
He, therefore, urged Tinubu to compel the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to move the headquarters of some of its subsidiaries to the capital cities of some states in the Niger Delta.
He said cities such as Yenagoa in Bayelsa, Port Harcourt in Rivers, Uyo in Akwa Ibom, and Asaba in Delta, among others, were ready to become hosts of such agencies and to ensure adequate security for them.
“We recall that during the visit of Yemi Osinbajo, in his capacity as an acting President, he promised that the Federal Government would compel oil multinationals to relocate their offices to the Niger Delta region. However, throughout the lifespan of that administration, that promise was not fulfilled.
“We know that a new sheriff is in town with new and unique ways of doing things. The new government believes in decentralization and even development. In the spirit of the ongoing decongestion of the Capital Territory, we appeal to the President to remember the Niger Delta by compelling NNPCL to send the headquarters of their subsidiaries to the region.
“It will facilitate the development of our region and give all communities a sense of belonging. It will also stop incessant attacks on oil facilities by persons who feel sidelined by the operations of oil companies in our region,” Eradiri said in a statement on Wednesday.