NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM OPPOSES PLAN BY CBN TO RELOCATE KEY DEPARTMENTS TO LAGOS

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NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM OPPOSES PLAN BY CBN TO RELOCATE KEY DEPARTMENTS TO LAGOS

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed deep concerns over moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to relocate some of its key departments from Abuja to Lagos.

NEF, in a statement signed by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy/Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said the relocation would not only come with huge cost but will further widen the regional economic disparity between the South-West and other regions.

The statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday reads in full : “The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) is deeply concerned about the reported plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to relocate major departments from the Abuja headquarters to the former headquarters in Lagos.

The NEF recognizes the importance of the departments in question, including Banking Supervision, DBS; Other Financial Institutions Supervision, OFISD; Consumer Protection Department, CPD; Payment System Management Department, PSMD; and Financial Policy Regulations Department, FPRD, as vital components of the CBN.

As stated in the BOFIA Act [Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act], the affected departments are crucial to the functioning of the CBN. Therefore, relocating them entirely to Lagos will only serve to further strengthen the already dominant position of Lagos, while potentially weakening the significance and role of Abuja.

While the NEF acknowledges the CBN’s desire to improve efficiency and effectiveness, we are worried about the potential negative impact of relocating these essential departments on both the institution itself and the nation as a whole.

The movement would involve increased costs, loss of talent, disruption in operations, reduced coordination, regional economic disparities, impaired economic development in northern Nigeria, and decreased investor confidence in the nation’s economy. Here are some of the potential consequences:

It would require significant financial investment as the CBN would need to allocate funds for setting up new offices, purchasing or leasing properties, relocating employees, and other infrastructural requirements. This would strain the CBN’s budget and divert resources away from other essential functions and initiatives.

The CBN has a well-established workforce in Abuja, including professionals with significant knowledge and experience. Moving key departments to Lagos may lead to a loss of skilled employees who are unable or unwilling to relocate. This brain drain could negatively impact the CBN’s performance and efficiency.

Relocation would lead to a temporary disruption in the CBN’s operations. Employees would need time to adjust to their new surroundings, potentially causing delays in decision-making and implementation. The transition period could result in reduced productivity, inefficient processes, and decreased service levels, further impacting the CBN’s effectiveness.

Moving key departments to a different geographical location would hinder effective coordination and communication with other government agencies in Abuja. The CBN, as the nation’s monetary authority, relies on close cooperation with other bodies, such as the Ministry of Finance and relevant regulatory authorities. Physical separation may lead to increased bureaucracy and slower response times, negatively affecting policy formulation and execution.

Shifting key departments to Lagos, which is located in the southwestern part of Nigeria, would exacerbate regional economic disparities. The concentration of such important positions and offices in one region may perpetuate the perception of Lagos as the economic center, potentially marginalizing other regions, especially Northern Nigeria. This could lead to increased feelings of neglect or economic imbalance, creating social and political tensions.

Relocating key departments away from the nation’s capital could send a negative signal to both local and international investors. It may raise concerns about political stability, policy consistency, and the government’s commitment to regional inclusiveness. This could lead to reduced investor confidence in the Nigerian economy, ultimately impacting foreign direct investment, capital inflows, and overall economic growth.

Northern Nigeria already faces various economic challenges, such as poverty, unemployment, and insecurity. Moving key departments away from Abuja would exacerbate the imbalance in economic development between the northern and southern regions. It could hinder the flow of investments, infrastructure development, and job creation opportunities in the north, thereby stifling economic growth and exacerbating the existing socio-economic challenges.

The NEF finds the broader negative implications of relocating these key departments ridiculous and unacceptable as moving economic decision-making power to Lagos could exacerbate regional disparities, fostering a sense of marginalization among other regions, particularly Northern Nigeria. Additionally, this move could hinder the northen governments’ efforts to promote economic diversification and reduce dependence on oil revenue.

Unacceptably too,, the North, which is home to a significant portion of Nigeria’s population, would be disproportionately affected by the relocation with reduced access to economic opportunities and financial services further widening the economic gap between Northern Nigeria and other regions, potentially exacerbating social and political tensions.

The NEF is also deeply concerned about the implications this relocation would have on the lives of the affected staff members. Reports suggest that this move would affect 1,533 dedicated staff members, forcing some individuals, particularly married women, who are mostly from the North, to contemplate resigning. We believe it is crucial to consider the impact on the personal lives and families of these staff members, especially married women who may struggle to cope with this decision.

The NEF urges the CBN and relevant authorities to prioritize the nation’s overall progress and the well-being of its citizens. We recommend a holistic approach that considers not only the efficiency and effectiveness of departmental operations but also the livelihoods and future development of all regions of Nigeria.

We urge government to evaluate the potential drawbacks of such a move thoroughly. It is important to consider the impact on Abuja’s role as the capital city, the potential repercussions on regional development and economic balance, and the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the relocated departments in serving their intended purpose.We call upon the CBN and relevant authorities to thoroughly review the consequences of this relocation and explore alternative arrangements that do not compromise the career growth and work-life balance of its valuable employees. It is essential to ensure that the burden of relocation is not unfairly placed on the shoulders of these individuals and their families.”

About Dons Eze

DONS EZE, PhD, Political Philosopher and Journalist of over four decades standing, worked in several newspaper houses across the country, and rose to the positions of Editor and General Manager. A UNESCO Fellow in Journalism, Dr. Dons Eze, a prolific writer and author of many books, attended several courses on Journalism and Communication in both Nigeria and overseas, including a Postgraduate Course on Journalism at Warsaw, Poland; Strategic Communication and Practical Communication Approach at RIPA International, London, the United Kingdom, among others.

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