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By LERE OLAYINKA

I read the reaction of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF), Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and others, condemning the relocation of some departments in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the headquarters of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos State, and I couldn’t but ask myself, what’s wrong with us in this country.

The CBN had in an internal memo last week announced plans to transfer some of its departments to Lagos on the ground that its headquarters in Abuja is congested with staff.

Similarly, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, announced the relocation of the FAAN headquarters from Abuja to Lagos.

But the Northern Senators and the ACF in particular will not accept that.

Pronto! The Northern Senators called on the federal government to consider reversal of the relocated departments or ready to face legal actions.

The ACF had earlier condemned the relocation of the offices, claiming that the decision was to further under-develop the northern part of the country.

Speaking on Arise TV News, Bashir Dalhatu, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ACF, said; “If you talk about transferring FAAN to Lagos because there are more airline activities in Lagos than in Abuja, then you should take the Ministry of Commerce to Onitsha or Kano because there are far more commercial activities in Onitsha and Kano than in Abuja.”

Also, Labour Party (LP) chieftain, Kenneth Okonkwo, in his own reaction, accused the government of President Bola Tinubu of ethnicity and bigotry.

He said: “Apart from being ethnic and religious bigots, I can’t see any further achievement of this government.”

While I do not contest the rights of those who have expressed their opposition to the relocation of FAAN and those departments in CBN, and do not stand as a defender of President Bola Tinubu and his APC government, I wish to say that  opposition to the relocation is ill-advised and should not have come from anyone who is desirous of the unity of Nigeria as a country.

The Federal system of government being practiced in Nigeria is tailored alongside that of the United States of America (USA).

The capital of USA is Washington DC, and as of today, many USA federal agencies have headquarters located outside of the country’s capital.

For instance, headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, and it is responsible for overall management of the organization.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a USA Department of Commerce is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The headquarters of the USA National Science Foundation (NSF) is in Alexandria, Virginia.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a USA federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is in Langley, Fairfax County, Virginia.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA or US FDA), a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services has its headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its headquarters is in Bethesda, Maryland.

With all these notable federal agencies having their headquarters outside Washington DC, has that diminished its status as the capital of the USA?

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Even in Nigeria here, the headquarters of Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) is in Marina, Lagos and not in Abuja? That of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is in Apapa, Lagos and not in Abuja. Why hasn’t the NCF or the Northern Senators complained?

It is on record that under the government of Buhari, a sum of N17.47 billion was approved for the acquisition of a property in Victoria Island, Lagos, to serve as the new headquarters of NIMASA. No one from Apapa, Lagos raised any eyebrow that NIMASA was being moved to Victoria Island in Lagos then.

Methinks after 110 years of joining the Southern Nigeria with Northern Nigeria Protectorate to form the single colony of Nigeria, we should have gone pass mundane issues like relocation of departments of federal government agencies to any part of the country.

For instance, if we have a department in the Ministry of Agriculture that is saddled with the task of irrigation, what is wrong in such a department operating from Dutse in Jigawa State or Maiduguri in Borno State?

If we have a department on small scale industry in the Ministry of Commerce, why can’t such department operate from Onitsha, Nnewi or Aba?

However, I am sure those making issues out of that non-issue know the truth. As usual, they are playing politics. The same politics that was played by some people, who opposed the appointment of the Southern Christian as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), first time since the federal capital was moved out of Lagos to Abuja.

If they are not playing politics, they will be more concerned about terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the North. They will be more concerned about the current killings in Plateau State.

Most importantly, they will be more concerned with the welfare of Nigerians, many of whom can no longer afford decent living.

But since it is politics, everyone must act like they speak for their regions or religions, not minding if their positions will call to question the unity of Nigeria. In truth and honesty however, they speak for themselves and their narrow political interests.

Oyebanji, Ekiti PDP
Lere Olayinka

*Olayinka writes from Oke Agbonna in Okemesi Ekiti

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