The present verbal fury over the relocation of the Federal Airport Authourity of Nigeria (FAAN) and some units in the directorate of the Financial System Stability (FSS) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attracted diverse views and interpretations, with some critics contending that the relocation may serve as a preamble to the return of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to Lagos.
Revoking Sirika’s transfer
For those opposed to the relocation of FAAN, this is not the first time an agency of government has been moved to Lagos. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in 2001, transferred the headquarters of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to Lagos. Apart from these two agencies whose headquarters were returned to Lagos, there are agencies whose headquarters operate outside of Abuja. For instance, the head office of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) is in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, while that of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) is in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
There’s no doubt that paucity in funding remains a major prompter in forcing public parastatals and ministries find ways of reducing operational expenses. After the relocation of FAAN to Abuja by the former Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Hadi Abubakar Sirika, a review of the operational mandates of the agency had made it imperative to return the agency to Lagos where its operations lie. Lagos is Nigeria’s hub of aviation business and to have FAAN headquartered outside Nigeria’s commercial capital amounts to deliberately accruing higher operational costs.
Needless noise over CBN
The relocation of some departments of the FSS Directorate like the Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institution Supervision and Customer Protection, among others, is strictly done for administrative convenience and to decongest the Abuja head office of the apex bank. Those advocating against the transfer are mainly clothed in ethnic colours, and are yet to convince anyone on the rationality of their position based on professional reasoning.
Describing the relocation of some of its departments, the CBN noted in a memo to staff members that the exercise was being done to initiate “a decongestion action plan designed to optimise the operational environment of the Bank. This initiative aims to ensure compliance with building safety standards and enhance the efficient utilisation of our office space”.
The CBN has hinged the relocation of some of its departments on the need “to align the Bank’s structure with its functions and objectives, redistribute skills to ensure a more even geographical spread of talent, and comply with building regulations, as indicated by repeated warnings from the Facility Manager, and the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Decongestion of the CBN Head Office”.
According to sources that are privy to the office spaces of the bank, the CBN Headquarters was built to only accommodate not more than 2, 700, but is now overcrowded with over 4,000 workers.
To enhance the performance of various departments set up for banking supervision, customer protection and supervision of other financial institutions that are all domiciled in Lagos, relocating these departments to Lagos not only reduces the cost of bureaucracy but also enhances administrative conveniences for CBN workers engaged in supervising over 24 banks and other 50 financial institutions whose headquarters are all domiciled in Lagos. Therefore, the noise contesting the rationality of the transfer of some departments in the CBN is simply anchored on emotional outburst that fails to take into cognisance the need for realism.
When not to play politics
Those ranting against the transfer of FAAN and some CBN’s departments are only engaged in an unintelligent exercise devoid of economic pragmatism. If the transfer of the aviation agency would enhance its performance, why the hues and cries by mealy-mouthed critics? To get the best of our present situation, the government must put its money where its mouth is. It becomes laughable when some are insinuating that the relocation exercise is founded on a maneuver to return the nation’s capital to Lagos. I am at a loss at this conspiracy theory that is purely a product of infertile imagination alleging that the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration is working secretly to return Nigeria’s capital to Lagos.
We must avoid any act that politicises the management of national bureaucracy on the altar of politics and bigotry. To crawl out of our economic hole of despair, all hands must be on deck to get the best for our nation. Revoking Sirika’s transfer of FAAN to Abuja is the right decision by the incumbent administration, especially against the backdrop of the urgency to efficiently manage the limited resources available to the Federal Government.
For the bank to continue bearing the cost of paying travel allowances running into hundreds of millions every year, while its building lies unoccupied, is not an act of reasonableness but unreasonableness. The relocation exercise is not only capable of not only decongesting the head office in Abuja, it will also avert any form of mishap in the future arising from congestion.
The raging brouhaha over the transfer of FAAN and some departments of the CBN is an irrational emotional outrage that has no rationality in the economic realities of our nation. Business thrives when right policies, not politics, are pursued and implemented for national development.