Abeni Aso-Oke

FAAN, CBN and the short trip to Lagos, by Hassan Gimba

FAAN, CBN and the short trip to Lagos

Abeni Aso-Oke

Abeni Aso-Oke

Nigeria is a country of one week, one issue; but insecurity, spreading over the nation like a cancer in a diseased body, remains constant. However, in some ways, a nation’s behaviour tends to reflect that of its leader’s character.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigeria’s president, is that kind of person, especially during the home run in the last presidential election. One week he was fighting off pretenders to the All Progressives Congress presidential ticket and the next he was fighting for his “health”.

Abeni Aso-Oke

Throughout the campaign, he was either fighting the Villa cabal against him or crying foul about policies he believed were meant to stymie his march towards victory. Naira re-designation and fuel scarcity, for instance.

Most times, he sought solace in the ancient town of Abeokuta, founded in 1830 by fleeing settlers. Shodeke, a hunter and leader of the Egba refugees who had fled from the disintegrating Oyo Empire, founded it that year. Abeokuta, from the Yoruba phrase “Abé òkúta”, means under the rocks or refuge among the rocks because of the presence of giant rocks, most notable being the Olumo Rock. It signifies the protection the Olumo Rock offered the refugees from potential attacks.

And when he was announced the winner of the election, almost every week came with its freshly poisoned darts aimed at scuttling his march to the dais to take the oath of office.

Among all these, he never wavered from his belief; he constantly reminded all that it was “Emi lo kan,” pointing at himself.

And so it was that hardly had the dust raised by the federal government’s proposal to relocate the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to Lagos settled than another sandstorm was raised. This is another proposal to relocate some departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria to Lagos. Again.

Now, what is the entire hullabaloo all about?

As mentioned above, it all has to do with the relocation of the headquarters of FAAN and some departments of the CBN to Lagos. And like every relationship in Nigeria between the government and the led, there is mutual suspicion. Again, typical of Nigeria, the suspicion is by those whose side of the country the president is not from. Normally those not from the side where a president comes from always perceive themselves as victims of a president’s policy. And this is even when the policy is for the good of the nation. And conversely, it’s good, if the president comes from their side, even if it’s not so good for the nation.

This is why those crying and desperately trying to convince people, especially northerners, that they are going to be “short-changed” because of the relocation never saw anything wrong when, instead of upgrading and expanding the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology and the Nigerian Civil Aviation College both in Zaria, billions where wasted by the last government in establishing a Federal University of Transport in Daura, President Buhari’s hometown.

But, honestly, all these cat-and-mouse games would never have been had our leaders been seen as sincere by the followership. People now take with a pinch of salt whatever emanates from governments. To solve this, leaders need to embrace all of us without pointing out who is theirs and who is not.

In this instance, sentiments are being whipped up by those alleging, without any proof, that there is a grand design to relocate the capital of the nation back to Lagos.

This caused Bayo Onanuga, one of the president’s spokespersons, to allay that suspicion.

“President Tinubu has no plan whatsoever to move the federal capital to Lagos,” he said.

He elaborated that “the rumour first surfaced during the campaign last year by opponents looking for all manners of weapons to stop him. We trashed it…Those peddling it anew are dishonest, ethnic and regional champions, trying to draw attention to themselves. Abuja has come to stay. It is backed by law.”

Lagos is the commercial capital and the hub of the aviation business in Nigeria. The headquarters of FAAN had always been there, but it was relocated to Abuja by the past aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.

For that of the CBN, the underpinning idea is for some departments concerned with banking supervision, especially those dealing with commercial banks, to move to Lagos. It is worthy of note that all commercial banks, save about three, have their headquarters in Lagos. So, there is some sense in that.

But we all want our economy, for long bastardised, to mend. Can that happen in a vacuum? No! So, which hub will be the best for some industries, especially those to do with the economy, than Lagos? Abuja is more of a civil service/administrative town, while Lagos is a bustling economic hub.

As of today, I would like to give Tinubu the benefit of the doubt until I become certain that he wants to relocate the capital of Nigeria back to Lagos, recently ranked the 19th best city to visit in the world, according to Time Out, a British media and hospitality company that publishes guides and magazines.

In only six months, Tinubu has fought corruption among his appointees more than Buhari did against his appointees in his first four years. And the economy is more on a bounce after nose-diving from the first day Buhari became president. Even our sports, especially football, a national unifying force is responding positively!

Nigeria’s Equity Market has crossed 101,000 points, which is remarkable by any standard, and according to the Financial Derivatives (FDC), with a Return on Investment of 22.90%, Nigeria’s Stock Exchange is now the most profitable capital market in the world! Our market index (All-Share Index) increased by 2,954.14 basis points and total market capitalisation also grew by 3%, closing at ₦55.58 trillion, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

I am now somehow satisfied with some aspects of his governance, which I believe is what we should all focus on, for the sake of Nigeria. When all is said and done, and the chips are down, even if the capital will be taken to Abeokuta, as long as Nigeria will mend and become the nation our founding fathers envisioned it to be, I will be on board.

What is most important is for everything to be located where it will work for the benefit of the nation.

Therefore, to me, at this material time in our nation’s life, when we are at a critical juncture in our nation’s survival, the location of offices pales when the government is trying to fight corruption, refitting our economy and tackling insecurity so that we all can once again sleep with both eyes closed.

That, to me, is all that matters. After all, in this age of the internet, it is just a short trek to Lagos, from anywhere, to be done in the blink of an eye.

Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.

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