NORTHERN LEADERS AT WAR OVER TINUBU
Prominent groups in the Northern states are currently at loggerheads over certain policies of the Bola Tinubu administration seen by some as anti-North.
The latest of such policies is the recent move by President Bola Tinubu to relocate some departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Lagos from Abuja, the Federal Capital. The headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has also been moved to Lagos.
Some prominent Northern leaders and groups have mounted a strident campaign against the relocations, even as some others have accused the President of planning to move the federal capital to Lagos, the nation’s former capital.
Two major groups, Arewa Think Tank, as well as the Northern States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have kicked against the tough stance of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) over the relocation of key departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos by the federal government.
NEF had rejected the move by the Federal Government saying that it has negative implications for Abuja’s status as the capital city, as well as financial implications for the CBN and the nation.
However, in their separate reactions, the Chief Convener, Arewa Think Tank, Muhammad Alhaji Yakubu, and the Secretary, Northern CAN, Elder Sunday Oibe said there was nothing wrong with relocating federal government offices to Lagos because it is in the interest of the country.
Spokesperson of NEF, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said the forum has been at the forefront of rejecting the proposed movement of key departments of the CBN and the headquarters of FAAN from Abuja to Lagos, stressing that the opposition of the group to the policy was rooted in the potential negative implications for Abuja’s status, as well as the financial implications on the CBN and the nation.
His words: “We are not a forum that whitewashes or smears any administration, including that of Tinubu. We have established a standard of judgment that we will not compromise, which is characterized by being respectful and responsible in our relationships with leaders at all levels, and speaking truth to power. We will not lower the bar when it comes to the interests of the North, the unity and security of Nigeria, or the welfare of all citizens.
“It is our duty to remind President Tinubu that his policies, many of which appear to further impoverish the North while enriching other parts of the country, have resulted in hunger stalking millions of homes. Inflation is making life increasingly difficult, people are losing their jobs, businesses are closing down, and infrastructure is decaying.”
Suleiman said that the president must recognize that his policies have had detrimental effects on the North, and hoped that he will take the necessary steps to rectify these issues and work towards a more inclusive and prosperous Nigeria.
He warned that if Tinubu does not move beyond sectional considerations, the North will in 2027, cast their votes against him, bearing in mind, the warped federal appointments, slanted resource allocation, and detrimental policies that have occurred during his tenure.
But Alhaji Yakubu of the Arewa Think Tank explained that his group and 19 Northern based Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) recently had a meeting to tackle those who are opposed to some economic policies of President Tinubu.
He gave the names of some of the CSOs at the meeting as Northern Network for Peace (NNP), Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA), Arewa Solidarity Point (ASP), Northern Initiative (NI), and Middle Belt Support Group (MBSG). Others are Gombe Front (GF), Borno Development Agenda (BDA), Kogi Patriotic Youth (KPY), Kaduna Discussion Group (KDG) and Katsina Forum (KF), amongst others.
He said, “The Arewa Think Tank in collaboration with 19 Northern-based Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have expressed continuous support for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu following the emerging threats of political consequences by some northern leaders and youths over the decision of the federal government to relocate five out of about 29 departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos.
“Northerners should go back to the drawing board and tell us what President Muhammadu Buhari did for them during his eight years in office. Nothing other than a railway line from Nigeria to Niger Republic.”
Yakubu argued further that the implications of banditry in the north far outweighs that of relocation of the government agencies from Abuja to Lagos, stating that “the common northerner who travels between Kaduna and Abuja, Kaduna and Zamfara, and other parts of the north are facing serious threats from kidnappers and bandits.
“We saw under Muhammadu Buhari’s government, how he threw caution to the wind as he simply continued on the trajectory of previous Presidents from the north by ensuring that all state institutions of importance, significance and relevance were shifted to the North and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja,” he stated.
Also speaking Elder Oibe of Northern CAN noted that as citizens of one indivisible entity called Nigeria, “we should outgrow seeing every government policy from a regional perspective.“An average Nigerian wants Mr. President to tackle the issue of daily falling of Naira to Dollars which has actually affected the price of commodities. If relocating certain departments of CBN to Lagos which is the economic hub of the nation is the solution, let’s support the government. If it will enhance the efficiency of those departments compared to when they were in Abuja, let’s support the government,” he stated.