Former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) said he conceived the idea to move the country’s capital from Lagos in 1974.
Gowon disclosed this at the 26th anniversary of the relocation of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja, organized by the Federal Capital Territory Archives and History Bureau.
He said his administration had planned to move the capital to a central part of the country for security reasons. Gowon said the idea was later actualised a late former Head of State General Murtala Muhammed.
“One of the places I saw that attracted me was somewhere in Plateau, those of you who know the place especially close to Jos forest, will agree that the area is beautiful and I thought that place was beautiful for the capital city.
“But I did not make that choice because I would have been accused of parochialism, and favouritism, because it was very close to the original place where I come from. So I said no , I must look at other places and the search for a new capital took me round the northwest, and in my state visits, I continued to look for other places, when I came to Abuja, I was attracted to the place,” Gowon said.
The former head of state said despite his role in relocating the capital, no street was named after him saying “ I had to officially complain to General Ibrahim Babangida, when he was the Military President, that I have been excluded from getting a street named after me in Abuja, while all other members of the Military Council who nurtured the idea, had gotten streets named after them.”
Gowon also said his only regret was that he did not use his power as head of state to appropriate land for his personal use.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Mohammad Bello, who was represented by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Christian Ohaa, said the theme of the celebration:”From Dodan Barracks to Aso Rock” was apt and provides the platform for strategic evaluations of the giant steps taken to actualise the dream after 26 years of the relocation.