Recent plans by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu‘s administration to relocate certain offices of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to Lagos have sparked significant controversy among the Northern political establishment.
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, the Northern leadership is deeply concerned about the potential implications of such moves.
Reported by the Sunday Tribune, insiders revealed that the uproar stems from apprehensions that the partial relocation of CBN and the movement of FAAN’s headquarters could set a precedent for the transfer of more government departments and agencies out of Abuja.
This concern has led to strong resistance from Northern politicians and stakeholders, who fear that such a shift might diminish the region’s influence and presence in the nation’s administrative affairs.
A key source disclosed that there is a growing suspicion in the North that the Tinubu administration might be using these relocations as a test case.
If successful, it could pave the way for further moves, shifting the balance of federal presence and activities from Abuja to other parts of the country, particularly Lagos.
The debate over the proposed relocations has opened up broader discussions about the geographical distribution of federal institutions and the implications for national unity and development.
“The North is not bothered about the veracity of the arguments pushed forward by the government’s spokesman Mr. Bayo Onanuga on this matter. He claimed that some agencies are already operating out of Abuja, like the one in Lokoja, Bayelsa, and the rest. The examples he gave further infuriate the question. The people of the North want Abuja to be seen as the capital of Nigeria in deed and words, not one glorified settlement with a few government presence,” the source stated, adding that by the definition of Federal Capital (FCT) should house all government agencies for ease of governance.
Another source stated that there is the thinking that a Lagos cabal exists in the government that is not happy with the relocation of the Federal Capital to Abuja, adding that those who nurse that belief are of the view that Tinubu would tactically degrade Abuja before the end of his tenure.
Sources also stated that some politicians who are against the government action may be doing so out of personal concern as some of the candidates they secretly pushed into the CBN were largely affected.
Another source added, “Since the tenure of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Central Bank governor, the CBN has not embarked on competitive recruitment drives. Most of the recruitment has been in the form of replacements and because of that, some politicians have taken the advantage to push their candidates into strategic departments of the CBN.
“The problem is that many of these people are not really adding value and most of them are only seen patrolling the streets of Abuja even during working hours without contributing anything to the works of the apex bank. Taking such persons to Lagos now would expose them, especially because many of them also parade certificates from some of the questionable universities in neighbouring West African countries.”
It was also learnt that the fact most of the junior-level workers who have been pushed into the service of FAAN, following the relocation by former Minister Hadi Sirika, may become redundant is also a factor propelling the rejection of the relocation by Northern elders.
This according to the source was informed by the fact federal regulations allow organisations to employ persons on Levels one to six in the civil service from the immediate community where the organisation operates.
“Many big men who have pushed their favourites into the services of FAAN in Abuja as drivers and other junior-level workers are worried that these people might become surplus to requirement. That is one of the issues,” another source explained.