The Federal Republic of Lagosia

The Tinubu-led government's effort to forcibly uplift and upgrade Lagos State shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knew or read a bit about Nigeria’s history. The idea of the creation of Abuja as the capital city of Nigeria was initiated by the military in the late 20th Century, precisely in the late 70th. It idea was well-thought of, well planned and well executed in good faith by successive military government. It can be said that the actualization of Abuja as the capital city of the federation was one of the few tasks that was inherited and continued by more than one regime of governance. Wikipedia says that; “it is a planned city built mainly in the 1980s based on a master plan by International Planning Associates (IPA), a consortium of three American planning and architecture firms made up of Wallace, Roberts, McHarg & Todd (WRMT – a group of architects) as the lead, Archi systems International (a subsidiary of the Howard Hughes Corporation), and Planning Research Corporation. The Central Business District of Abuja was designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. It replaced Lagos, the country's most populous city, as the capital on 12 December 1991.”

It is one of the fastest growing cities in the whole world, not only in Nigeria or in Africa. “According to the United Nations, Abuja grew by 139.7% between 2000 and 2010, making it the fastest growing city in the world. As of 2015, the city is experiencing an annual growth of at least 35%, retaining its position as the fastest-growing city on the African continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world.” This is Abuja for you. Everything about Abuja was well-planned by intellectuals of repute in the world. Its strategic location, terrain, whether and above all, compatibility to all, comfort and suitability as the capital city of this complex combination.

There are so many planned cities in the world and they are done for a purpose. Right from the beginning of the amalgamation, those who perpetrated it had known that it would be so complex to manage. They, therefore, according to their expectation, helped in realizing where the leadership would be easier for all. Thus, the idea behind the planned city of Abuja. And this shows how disciplined and committed the military were to the general development and progress of the country. If it were these set of politicians of today, such a momentous task would never be accomplished.

History recorded that the Yorubas vehemently rejected the idea of Abuja’s formation. The “biggest” opposition of the idea of the formation of Abuja was the then Yoruba chieftain and a presidential candidate, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Awo made a pledge and promised to his people that if elected, he would hire the American Walf Disney Corporation - an American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate -, to convert the current site of Abuja into an amusement park. Perhaps chief Awo’s dream is quickly becoming a reality under Tinubu’s administration.

Awo lost the election and it was reported that one of the first works of Alhaji Shehu Shagari when he assumed power, was to accelerate and lay the foundation of Abuja and pushed for its early completion. Successive governments took over from him and the trend continues until these days, when we see the reversal in quick gears

I have personally contested the supremacy of Lagos over Kano a long ago time ago, but later when I visited the state in 2013, I concurred and agreed that Lagos state is so much blessed and looks like other well developed foreign cities, if not because of the roughness and ruggedness of some its people. The state is both naturally and artificially endowed. It is also cunningly supported by its intellectuals at the expense of all others. They are the kind of people who love themselves more than any other person else. And we start seeing the manifestation of this love so early in this Tinubu led government.

It is undoubtedly clear to anyone who pokes his nose into the Nigeria’s issues that Lagos is by far richer than all the 36 states of the federation combined together. If you call Lagos as a country of its own you may not be wrong. That’s why I find it weird when public structures are shamelessly moved to Lagos in the name of convenience, proximity and all other silly excuses. These flimsy excuses can look strong from the surface, but after a deep x-ray, some hidden weaknesses may be uncovered.

I once asked a knowledgeable friend about the issue of population between Kano and Lagos. Those who promote Lagos, promote it even where others are better. Almost all the time I see conflicting and contradictory reports on the issue of population. He explained to me in layman's language that Kano is the most populous city in Nigeria and there is no doubt about this. But Kano’s population is a dispersed population while that of Lagos is the most densely populated city in Nigeria. Then, in the actual number of people living in the two states combined together, Kano is the most populous state in Nigeria. Even this, many people do not care to know.

Back to the Federal Republic of Lagosia! The state has been leading in terms of infrastructural development, IGR, investment, inventions, entrepreneurship,  companies and all what the world counts as the indices of development. This, no one can deny. May be Kano can only be ahead of Lagos in terms of decorum, legitimate earnings and legal dealings. But Kano being the Centre of commerce has for long been hijacked by many powers beyond an ordinary imagination to comprehend.

Recently, CBN has been reported to have moved some of its key offices to Lagos. Why? It was said that close to 60 percent of Nigeria's wealth revolves around Lagos state only. Then, why should CBN sit far away from the Center of money? In this respect, one should salute the courage and foresight of CBN to relocate. Those of you shouting, what do you bring to the CBN's table to make the CBN move the headquarters to your state?

FAAN also moved its key offices and officers and even issued a statement that they have done so for the good of the country. It was said that the former aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, was the one who forced them to be in Abuja. In the statement issued by FAAN, its PRO Obiageli said that they don't have enough place/offices to accommodate their personnel in Abuja. Whether this is true or false, should not matter, as in Nigeria truth is so expensive and lies are so cheap. Whatever may happen, they moved out, pending when there would be enough space for them, they would form a committee to start looking for whether they could move back to Abuja or not. But one important thing that was mentioned by Obiageli was the issue of 60% of Nigeria's flights hover around Lagos. This singular statement is heavier than all the other flimsy and silly excuses given. This holds water!

Abuja was not ordinarily built without any thinking. It was strategically chose, located and designed. Abuja was one of the purposely well-planned cities in Africa as explained. It was designed to be in the center to ease everything to everyone. When it was established, as it is the norm, many companies, government agencies, embassies, foreign establishments and above all, the seat of the government were all transferred to the location. This is how Abuja was made.

Today, under the Asiwaju's government, silly excuses are forwarded and some government agencies headed by Yorubas are taken back to Abuja without even consulting the two houses of assemblies. I thought such a decision must be backed by law. I thought they should first take the issue to the National Assembly for consent. But even the movement is systematic. They started by saying, we are moving "some offices", may be to outsmart Nigerians. Many other movements might have been shrouded in secrecy.

Actually, the preferential treatment given to Lagos state is something that sends bad signals to the remaining states. Yes, Lagos generate revenue, but don’t forget, the large chunk of Nigeria’s population reside in the North. And Lagos is made to be a necessary location for all Northerners or their goods to pass through. To compound issues and systematically actualize this, the Northern land boarders are shut. Therefore, everyone is systematically forced to carry his fate, money and energy to Lagos. The import and export solely rely on Lagos. Why all these centralization? Something is fishy here. Are Yoruba's up to something? Only time will tell.

Lagos state is rich enough to have its own Central Bank. It shouldn’t take everything away from the rest of Nigerians with the support of the president. Already through the shrewdness of its technocrats, more than half of what is supposed to be shared by all Nigerians is given to her alone, in the name of its ports and other cover-ups. If we go by the statement of proximity and suitability as issued by FAAN and CBN, then, ministry of Defense should be relocated to Zamfara or Maiduguri, NNPC to Rivers or Bayelsa, Mining and Solid Minerals to Zamfara, Borno or Yobe, among many others. Let Abuja be either disbanded for all Nigerians to take their share or be retained the way it is. Developmental projects should be distributed evenly throughout the country. You have already forced so much of Lagos on all at the expense of all. Lagos has snatched away the lion's share of the country's earnings and no one says anything. It is another country in Nigeria and that's why everything of hers is different. The train, the power, the companies, and now the Nigeria's CBN, FAAN, among many others. Haba! Why all these? A stitch in time...

Muhammad Sulaiman Abdullahi
Department of Nigerian Languages,
Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria


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