Abuja: Capital of Nigeria or Northern Nigeria?

Those who are familiar with European history will recall that practically the whole of Europe were battle fields until 1945 – after the end of the Second World War. Russia too had fought so many wars in the past. The former Soviet Union and the west led by the United States were engaged in the cold war for almost half a century. The former Soviet Union alone lost more than 20 million people in the Second World War! What about Japan which once colonised China and took an active part in the Second World War. And please don’t forget Mussolini’s Italy. So, why didn’t any of these countries relocate their respective capitals to the center for “security reasons” like Nigeria? Why didn’t Britain for example which is practically an island relocate its capital from London to the center to strengthen its security? Why didn’t the former Soviet Union after the end of the Second World War relocate its capital from Moscow to the center or to Siberia or to the Urals or to the Far-east? As big as the former Soviet Union was, why didn’t they move their capital? After all, being the biggest country in the world, they had more than enough land to do that. Please take a look again at the location of Moscow . You will notice that apart from the fact that it is located right at the edge of Russia and very very close to the sea, it is as well very close to other European countries and their respective capitals. Why didn’t Hugo Chavez who is theoretically at war with the United States relocate the capital from Caracas to the center for “security reasons” like Nigeria? Hugo Chavez has visited Russia many times to arm his army to the teeth with the latest weapons available and money could buy incase of an attack from the U.S. I also want to remind you that Venezuela is the fifth largest exporter of crude oil while Nigeria comes sixth. So why didn’t Chavez who is a military officer build a new capital for his security? After all, he has more than enough money to do it? What about Fidel Castro who has been at a logger heads with America for almost 40 years? It’s a known secret that the C.I.A. had made several failed attempts to eliminate Fidel. And do you remember the “Bay of pigs” operation? The invasion of Cuba by opposition army sponsored by the United States of America. Why didn’t Castro shift the capital from Havana to the center for “security reasons?”

Are we to conclude then that these countries are not as “security conscious” like Nigeria? Of course they are. In fact, they are not only more security conscious than Nigeria they are equally more “unity conscious than Nigeria. The reason why they have taken such a stupid decision is simply because they know very well that:

(1) “Water is life.” “No water, no life.”

(2) There are substantial economic and commercial benefits for the country when a capital is located by the sea compared to locating it in the middle.

(3) A country is in no way better secured because its capital is in the middle. There are other cheaper and more effective ways of ensuring the security of a state and its capital other than building a new capital from scratch which is considered a very costly venture even for very rich countries.

(4) Incase of an out break of war, the government, if the need arises, could easily be transferred temporarily to another city till the war ends. They don’t need to build a new capital to accomplish that.


(II) CONGESTION AND INFRASRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT.

MODERN TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

The federal government told us that Lagos was too congested for a capital. In that case, I have a couple of questions. How many houses did the federal government build in Lagos compared to the number of inhabitants? How many power plants/stations did the federal government 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?

As may be recalled, the Lagos state government led by Alhaji Lateef Jakande had already finalised agreement with a foreign company to build an underground rail system in Lagos in 1983. Unfortunately, this project was killed when the military led by by Muhammadu Buhari toppled the civilian government of Shehu Shagari through a military coup de tat. It is worth mentioning that plans are underway to build an underground rail system in Abuja while there are no such plans for congested Lagos with a population at least 4 times more than that of Abuja

More than 13.5 million people live in Moscow today, and at least about 2.5 million people commute to Moscow by rail everyday from neighbouring 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 have not heard any complaint. why? Because the Russian government even right from the Soviet time had invested and still continues to invest “heavily” in infrastructures.

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. The length of the underground rails is more than 260 kilometers About 7.3 million people ride the Moscow Metro everyday! And the figure keeps increasing everyday. It works from 5.30 a.m to 1 a.m. 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 in 2005! I even bought 2 special albums about the history of Moscow Metro published in commemoration of this historical event. More stations are still under construction to meet the high increase in traffic. Apart from the Metro, there are more than 6,000 electric buses and trams and ordinary buses ( that run on petrol) each that ply the streets of Moscow.

HOUSING

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 government with the full backing of the federal government 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 construction and real estate market.

POWER SUPPLY

I n terms of electricity supply, believe it or not, ever since I have been living 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. Recently, the Russian government voted a whooping $90 billion investment plan to upgrade the electricity sector! The sector is presently undergoing unprecedented reforms. RAOAES, the biggest power generating and distributing company in the world is presently undergoing a historical restructuring which will see it broken down into regional and private generating, transmitting and distributing companies similar to the breaking up of the giant U.S. telecommunication company AT&T and the Bells laboratory into regional baby bells by Judge Green in 1984. Apart from the huge investment in the power sector by the Russian government, private companies and private individuals are being encouraged to invest too in the sector in order to meet the fast growing demand for power due to the rapid growth of the Russian economy.

In addition, there is always hot and cold water throughout the year except 3 weeks in a year in Summer when hot water is switched off to carry out mandatory maintenance works on hot water pipes in order to keep the hot water running throughout the rest of the year. I vividly remember my conversation with a senior Nigerian diplomat while we were driving where he commented that even London can not boast of the amount and quality of infrastructures in Moscow. It was a pleasant surprise for him

As may be recalled, power generation in Nigeria today has been fluctuating between 1400-3500MW and marring the development of the manufacturing sector in the country. This figure is just a minute fraction of what Moscow alone generates and consumes!

Written by
Bode Eluyera
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4 comments
  • Nigeria itself is a fake country. The idea of a "One Nigeria" is an illusion. There has never been "One Nigeria," there is no "One Nigeria" now and I am sorry to say that there will never be "One Nigeria." The concept of "One Nigeria" itself is a fraud. Nigeria is a country that emerged out of "forced" and "unequal" marriage between the North and the South. We should forget about "One Nigeria," because it is not possible. Left to me, I strongly believe that the best thing is to let the North go and even take Abuja with them. We can use Abuja as a "trade off" to get our independence from the north. If they leave, I believe 75% of our problems will be solved. That's the ideal solution. In addition, I strongly believe that if the whole of the South remains as one country, in case of the break up of Nigeria, we will be much stronger together than if we are to go our seperate ways. We have a lot in common. Moreover, we compliment one another. The South West and South East have human resources which if put to the wright use and together with the oil resources in the South South could multiply the oil resources many folds. We don't have to be emotional when it comes to analysing our past and mapping out a new future for ourselves. If you are driving and don't have or look at the "rear mirror," I am afraid to say that most likely, you will have accident and consequently not get to your destination. Therefore, I believe that we must continue to analyse past historical events and decisions at least, in order to avoid falling into the same pit twice. Nigeria and Nigerians are paying a very high price today for the wrong decision to build a new capital from "scratch." Moreover, the struggle is about "Justice." Is it fair to build a new capital in Abuja with the oil resources of the South South while the bonafide owners of the resources wallow in abject poverty? So, the issue is about justice. We are in mess today because of many wrong decisions that were taken in the past and are still been taken today. As I have already said, it is absolutely unacceptable to me to build the so called "One Nigeria" at the expense of others. This has nothing to do with tribalism. All what I wrote is my personal and objective analysis of events. I realise that the problem most Africans face is the inability to make good analysis and/or "emotional" commentaries of events like "but no one gets anywhere by looking into the rear mirror of their vehicles, we are where we are, let us make the best use of it." With this kind of thinking, we won't get anywhere as a nation. It's just a matter of "fairness" and "principle." Personally, I am ready to fight for this no matter how long it takes. WE ARE GOING TO START A CAMPAIGN FOR THE RELOCATION OF THE CAPITAL FROM ABUJA BECAUSE IT WAS NOT ONLY A WRONG DECISION, IT WAS ALSO A "FRAUDULENT" DECISION THAT HAS COST THE COUNTRY/SOUTH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND IF THE PROJECT IS NOT STOPPED NOW WILL COST THE COUNTRY MORE.

    If that is not attainable, then we should fight for Federalism. Federalism is the only compromise possible. Nobody is calling for another civil war. At the same time, it is unacceptable to build the so called "One Nigeria" at the expense of others, which is exactly what the North has been doing since independence. Nigeria has never been "

  • an excellent analysis of possible motives ..but no one get anywhere by looking into the rear mirror of their vehicles. We are where we are, let us make the best use of it. The new Nigeria will not be North dis, Yoruba that..your era of tribalist is a dying breed…from your ashes a new Nigeria shall arise. Nigeria where all genders, tribes, and creed can excel irrespective of where they come from. It is already taking place before your own eyes.

  • Good thinking, thought provoking. I'm no pacifist but don't you think essays like this could fan the embers of war?….. It's not as if any of us is afraid of the resultant armed struggle if we all decide to go our separate ways…but would it solve anything? Wouldn't the struggle for the Niger Delta be the death of all of us???

  • Except if you decided to be blinded by foolish patriotism, almost all Nigerians were well aware that the movement of the capital from Lagos to Abuja was just to satify the northern rulers not for the benefit of Nigeria as a whole. Nigeria is a great country but certainly Nigeria would be better off as 3 independent countries.