Relocation of FAAN Headquarters, CBN Departments
FOLLOWING the perceived operational lopsidedness of some government agencies, the Federal Government took a bold step to relocate the operational headquarters of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to Lagos. On January 18, 2024, FAAN announced the relocation after a directive from the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo. Similarly, the Central Bank of Nigeria, through a memo, announced the transfer of some of its departments to the nation’s first capital territory. The move was to decongest the apex bank’s head office located in the Federal Capital Territory. Departments pencilled down for relocation by the CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, are Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection, Payment System Management and Financial Policy Regulations departments.
“THE action plan focuses on optimizing the utilization of other Bank’s premises. With this plan, 1,533 staff will be moved to other CBN facilities within Abuja, Lagos and understaffed branches. Our current occupancy level of 4,233 significantly exceeds the optimal capacity of 2,700 designed for the Head Office building. This overcrowding poses several critical challenges,” the CBN memo reads.
JUSTIFYING the relocation, the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to President Bola Tinubu, Bayo Onanuga, said Lagos is the hub of the aviation business, hence the federal government’s decision to relocate the headquarters of FAAN to the state. Onanuga added that the CBN departments moved to Lagos to deal with commercial banks, which have their major operations and headquarters in Lagos.
THE relocation has, however, generated condemnation from Northern groups and individuals, insinuating that President Bola Tinubu plans to move the Federal Capital Territory back to Lagos State. The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) alleged that the relocation was a deliberate attempt to further marginalise and under-develop the northern region, which already suffers from various challenges such as insecurity, poverty, and unemployment.
SIMILARLY, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume alleged political cartels are misguiding President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to make wrong decisions, threatening that the relocation would have political consequences. The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) and the Katsina Elders’ Forum claimed that the relocation would lead to brain drain and economic disparity and threatened President Tinubu with Northern votes come the 2027 presidential election.
UNFORTUNATELY, the agitators against the Federal Government’s strategic moves failed to grasp the strategic imperatives driving these decisions. They overlooked the broader benefits of decentralization and regional development, hence, their unfounded and short-sighted allegations. Instead, it reflects a pragmatic response to operational challenges and recognition of Lagos’ pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic landscape. Lagos, as the nation’s economic hub and aviation nucleus, offers unparalleled opportunities for growth and development in the aviation sector. This move not only capitalizes on Lagos’ strategic location but also streamlines FAAN’s operations to better serve the needs of the industry and passengers alike.
SIMILARLY, the transfer of select CBN departments to Lagos signifies a concerted effort to decongest the apex bank’s headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory. By redistributing staff and resources, the CBN aims to enhance operational effectiveness, ensure compliance with building safety standards, and optimize office space utilization. This proactive approach demonstrates a commitment to prudent management and organizational efficiency. These benefits were also canvassed by a Former CBN Governor and former Emir of Kano State, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and a former Deputy Governor of CBN, Kingsley Moghalu, who described the move as strategic and purposeful.
THE claim of under-development of the North by antagonists is a mere eruption of undue political emotions among the Northerners. The Northern part of Nigeria houses the headquarters of the most critical agencies in Nigeria, outside the FCT, such as the armed forces bases as well the police and paramilitary in Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Jos, Markurdi, e.t.c,, headquarters of tertiary institutions’ regulators like the polytechnics and colleges of education in Kaduna and Minna repectively, and several other federal government agencies and parastatals.
RATHER than succumb to political rhetoric or regional biases, it is crucial to recognize the strategic imperatives guiding these decisions. The relocation is in line with the several calls for political and economic restructuring in Nigeria to address inefficiency in many of our systems. The moves removed nothing from Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory.
THE recent outburst from Northern groups and individuals would have been needless if the country had agreed to talk at the round table about its continuous existence the governor’s office is, raises critical security concern. Nigerians, more than before, should heed the national platitude that they should “see something; say something”.