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Distortion by a veteran journalist

A veteran journalist, Mr Festus Adebayo, wrote an article with the title ‘The North is Angry’ in the Sunday Tribune of January 28th, 2024. He…

A veteran journalist, Mr Festus Adebayo, wrote an article with the title ‘The North is Angry’ in the Sunday Tribune of January 28th, 2024. He enunciated his views on the invincibility of an erstwhile Kaduna mafia and an analogy with mythical Kannakanna theory, aimed at criticising the Northern Elders Forum. All these were his beliefs and problems.  His amplification of the advocacy for the removal of the federal capital from Lagos, to have been initiated from the West, specifically the respected Chief Obafemi Awolowo, is most commendable.

However, in as much as we owe one another a duty of respect and love as Mr Adebayo stated, to insinuate that the federal government had paid off the original owners of the FCT land, and created Suleja for them, in such a widely publicised publication was gross misinformation and a distortion of the fact. We are very interested and would like to be provided with his source. Otherwise, we will assume that our dear veteran journalist is operating on stark ignorance of what is a simple knowledge by laymen on the street. The fact is, Suleja is not a creation of the federal government, but a precolonial and ancient town, with a well-established historical first-class emirate. Also, only a fraction of the FCT natives were moved out.

That presentation was a disservice to the people of Suleja and the FCT original inhabitants who sacrificed both their name and land for the well-being and service of the nation. We cannot imagine a veteran journalist making such a costly error. Because, the title of his article and many contents of his article had already given him away as a tribal or regional jingoist. In order to ensure the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria, we must be identified with strengthening the cord of unity; not sowing seeds of division.

With due respect to the elder statesman, we wish to advise him to always make research before delving into matters he is ignorant of. We also urge him to quickly retract that aspect and correct himself. We shall deal with the subject in a future episode if the Almighty spares our lives. 

Meanwhile, the debate on the suitability of Lagos and its continuation as the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, or transferring the capital to a more suitable location started since the colonial era, in the joint Lagos and colony conferences and also at the West Regional Conference which took place in late 1949. It continued till the advent of the Murtala Mohammed administration in 1975, before the final decision was made.

The initial argument by the politicians from the three regional blocs was on the basis of economy and politics. Other arguments were the negative adversities of geographic location and military vulnerabilities. However, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the description in the later years of the debate of Lagos as the ‘Problem Capital’ due to the physical and environmental problems largely caused by the population increase beyond the prevailing physical capacity of the city. The assertion was supported by the United Nations and Ford Foundation report in 1970.

Lagos was the largest seaport, the largest employment centre, the capital of Lagos State and the largest commercial and financial capital of the country. Not just collectively, but individually, all these functions have the capacities of interfering with the normal efficiency of a national government. Therefore, due to such experience, the desire was to have a new capital whose primary function would be administrative. Thus, from the planning point of view, Abuja is to function as an administrative city, though the attendant commercial and industrial activities to support the city’s population cannot be ignored.

The commencement of the project implementation was met with initial apathy. The government had to embark on an awareness campaign by way of advertisements, jingles and other means in the print and electronic media to attract the private sector to participate in the development of the city. In no time, the initial apathy was quickly dissipated.

It is instructive to state that irrespective of tribe or ethnic background, Nigerians from all the regional blocs are having sanctuary in the nation’s capital located at the centre of the country, like no other place before. The wisdom of the Justice Akinola Aguda Panel for the recommendation, and that of the acceptance and implementation by the federal government are conspicuous.

 

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