LOCATION OF CAPITAL IN ABUJA- A 419 ACT
The choice of Abuja as the new capital is another case in point that the North has succeeded in manipulating the country to its own selfish advantage at a great cost to the country. The official reasons given by the North led federal government for relocating the capital from Lagos were the following:
(1) Security reason – Lagos due to its location is vulnerable to attack from the ocean.
(2) Lagos is too congested.
(3) Because of its location at the other end of the country, it’s not very convenient and expensive for other Nigerians to come to Lagos.
(4) Lagos belongs to the Yorubas; one of the major tribes in Nigeria.
Let us examine these reasons one by one together objectively and verify whether they hold water or not.
(1) SECURITY: IBM-INTER BALLISTIC MISSILES
You don’t have to be a military expert to know what is called IBM – InterBallistic Missiles or ICM- InterContinental Missiles. That is to say that if Nigeria is at war with another country, the enemy can even from the open water/sea or from land/air – outside Nigeria’s territory or air space – fire rockets at Abuja or bomb Abuja. I will like to remind you that when the Iraqi war started, the American soldiers started by shelling and bombing Baghdad from the sea. Later Iraqi’s capital was subjected to another heavy bombing from the air. It was after the massive bombings that the American soldiers entered Iraq. Therefore, security wise Nigeria’s new capital has not become safer due to the movement.
Secondly, another question we need to ask is what was and is the probability then – when the decision to move was taken – and now, of Nigeria going to war? I would rather say that the probability was very low then, and is still low now.
Thirdly, even if the probability was high then, we did not have to move the capital because of that. During the second world war, when Hitler launched the attack on the Soviet Union, what the Russians did was to ‘shift the capital temporarily.’ Europe for centuries had been battle ground where many wars were fought. But, there were no cases of moving capital because of likely outbreak of war.
How many houses did the federal government build in Lagos compared to the number of inhabitants? How many power plants/stations did the federal goverment build in Lagos compared to the number of inhabitants? Why didn’t the federal govt. build a modern underground rail transportation system in Lagos to facilitate transportation?
More than 10 million people live in Moscow today, and about 2 million commute to Moscow everyday from neighboring towns to work. Nevertheless, I have never heard anybody say that Moscow is congested. Moreover, more and more people; including from the former Soviet republics, foreign companies and foreigners from other countries troop into Moscow everyday, and I’ve not heard any complaint. Why? Because the Russian govt. even right from the Soviet time had invested and still continues to invest heavily in infrastructure.
MODERN TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Moscow boasts of one of the best public transportation network system in the world. Moscow underground rail system; called ‘Metro’ is one of the best in terms of reliability, safety and efficiency in the world. About 7.3 million people ride the Moscow Metro everyday! And the figure keeps increasing every day. It works from 5.30 a.m. to 1 in the night non-stop! The average waiting time for a train is 3 minutes. And during rush hour, it is about 45 seconds! The Moscow Metro celebrated its 75 years anniversary of successful uninterrupted operations last year! I even bought 2 special albums about the history of Moscow Metro published in commemoration of this historical events.
In terms of housing the Russian govt. used to build houses and rent it out at a very reasonable rate to its citizens. Though, after the collapse the govt. decided to give out the flats to the citizens for free. Moscow has experienced an unprecedented boom in real estate for the past 10 years. Apart from oil, it is the most profitable sector in the country. And the Moscow govt. with the full backing of the federal govt. is taking an active part in the construction of residential and commercial buildings. Investors are running over themselves to invest in real estate. And all the major western real estate companies are super active in the real estate market.
In terms of electricity supply, believe it or not, for the 2 decades that I have lived here, I can’t remember when there was no light. The very few occasions when there was no light were due to repair works being carried out, which does not take more than an hour, and normally, residents of the affected houses are warned in advance. At the beginning of June the Russian govt. voted a wooping $90 billion investment plan to upgrade the electricity sector!
There is always hot and cold water throughout the year except one month when hot water is switched off to carry out maintenance work on hot water pipes. Power generation in Nigeria today has been fluctuating between 1400-3500MW and crippling the development of the manufacturing sector in the country. This figure is just a minute fraction of what Moscow alone generates and consumes!
A DELIBERATE ACT
I hope that you have not lost focus, the point I’m trying to make is that while Lagos was the capital, the North led federal govt. invested only a drop or a fraction of what was needed in infrastructure and housing. The North led federal government had not invested a single kobo in electricity generation in Lagos for the past 15 years before OBJ took over. This explains the reason why Lagos was congested and always in perpetual darkness. The only way for the federal govt. to rectify this congestion problem then was through heavy investment in infrastructure, energy, housing, e.t.c. However, they purposely didn’t do it because they had made up their mind to relocate the capital to the North; consequently the money was saved for Abuja.
(3) ACCESSIBILITY TO OTHER NIGERIANS.
Perhaps this may sound a little bit convincing. But taking a closer look, I ask the following questions: should the fact that Lagos is far from the North justify spending billions of dollars that belong to the South to build a new capital from scratch? I implore everybody reading this article to please get hold of an atlas and have a look at as many countries as possible including the location of their respective capitals. Please take a look at the location of Washington D.C., London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Peking and the capitals of other developed/developing countries. How many countries in the world choose their capitals on the basis that it must be in the center because it’s the optimal location? Why didn’t the U.S and other countries whose capitals are at the edge of the country and close to the sea or ocean move them to the center for security reasons so that they could be closer to its citizens? The reason is simply because:
(a) Building a new capital even for rich countries is an expensive expenditure which is not justified;
(b) Capitals of many countries emerged historically and naturally due to many factors and the role these cities had played in the past.
(c) You don’t use mathematics or geometry to calculate or determine the center or equilibrium point where the capital should be located.
(4) LAGOS BELONGS TO THE YORUBAS
Undoubtedly, this is the main reason why the capital was moved from Lagos, but other excuses were just used as cover up. Otherwise, why was the capital not built somewhere in Edo, Akwa-Ibom or Cross-River state which do not belong to any of the major nationalities?. Why should the new capital be built in the North a region whose contribution to the economy is less than 10%?
PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE
As I have said before, building a new capital from scratch is a very, very expensive expenditure even for very rich countries. There was virtually no need for Abuja. The country could have still got along with Lagos quiet well. The decision to build Abuja was a wrong economic decision for a developing country like Nigeria that could not boast of stable electricity, water supply, adequate and functioning infrastructures, reliable educational system, medical and adequate pension programs, even up till now. This is what they ought to have tackled first. Then, invest heavily in industries, agriculture and information technology in particular. These would had served as an impulse or locomotive that would had driven the economy to great heights. Abuja shouldn’t had been the priority.