Relocation of FAAN, CBN Departments to Lagos: The Storm in A Teacup

Relocation of FAAN, CBN Departments to Lagos: The Storm in A Teacup

There has been a lot of brouhaha since the announced relocation of the Headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and some departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria, notably Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection Department, Payment System Management Department, and Financial Policy Regulations Department to Lagos. Though, there appears

There has been a lot of brouhaha since the announced relocation of the Headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and some departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria, notably Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection Department, Payment System Management Department, and Financial Policy Regulations Department to Lagos.

Though, there appears to be sound justifications for the relocation by the two agencies of government, communicating such intentions could have been handled better especially by the CBN. The FAAN handling of the subject matter was good and leaves no one in doubt of its desirability. On the other hand, it took the drafting of the former CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi into the fray for the message to simmer down and calm frayed nerves in the case of the CBN.

But reactions to the relocation have been ranged from political imputations to sheer threats. From the Arewa youth’s rejection, to the Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations, to that of Miyetti Allah Cattle Dealers Association and lately to the Senator representing Borno South Senatorial, Ali Ndume, a habitual stormy petrel, who faulted the planned relocation of certain departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria from Abuja to Lagos, blaming it on the antics of the “Lagos Boys” in the corridor of power. To him, President Bola Tinubu is being misinformed by “political cartels” to make wrong decisions.

“All these Lagos boys who are thinking that Lagos is Nigeria are just misinforming and advising the President wrongly. Those political cartels that are in the corridors of power are trying to misinform the President and we will tell the President. The President will take action. They are not doing any favour to Mr President because this will have political consequences,”. What the Senator may have forgotten to tell Nigerians is that his daughter who allegedly works in the Consumer Protection Department of the CBN is one of those affected by the relocation order of the apex bank. That may have fueled his overreaction.

On objective rationale basis, the relocation order keeps gaining a groundswell of support from discerning people and analysts. The most profound of such support came from the former CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who was said to have mooted similar idea years ago while at the helms of the CBN. He said it was the right thing to do, dismissing those against the relocation as playing dirty politics. Sanusi, who was 14th Emir of Kano, in a statement said the relocation is an “eminently sensible move”.

According to him: “Moving certain functions to the Lagos office (which is bigger than the Abuja head office) is an eminently sensible move.” He said he had it in mind to do the same thing while in office but didn’t have sufficient time to see it through. “In my mind what I would have done was to move FSS and most of Operations to Lagos such that the two Deputy Governors would be largely operating out of Lagos or, even if they were more in Abuja, the bulk of their operational staff would be in Lagos.

“Economic policy, Corporate services and all the departments reporting to the Governor directly such as Strategy, Audit, Risk management, Governors’ office etc would remain in Abuja. It makes eminent strategic sense. And I would have done this if I had stayed.”

His submission has countered and silenced some vociferous voices especially those from the North. Some northern politicians who kicked against the move, warned that it would have political consequences; a subtle reference to possible reelection bid of President Tinubu in 2027. Emir Sanusi dismissed opposition against the policy as “absolutely unnecessary” because “The CBN has staff manning its branches and cash offices across the Federation. Moving staff to the Lagos office to streamline operations and make them more effective and reduce cost is a normal prerogative of management”, he posited.

Then he added the clincher: “The problem we have now is that many employees are children of politically exposed persons and their Abuja life and businesses are more important than the CBN work. The CBN is just an address for them and if they have to choose between their spoilt Abuja life and the job, they would gladly leave the CBN. All the more reason for the Governor to put his foot down and get rid of those elements they are dangerous for the bank’s future. The question of locating functions is a STRATEGIC and not tactical one. A proper analysis should be done to identify which roles are best suited to Lagos and which to Abuja. Once the logic is clear the people then follow. Non communication of strategic intent opens the door to mischievous misrepresentation and arbitrariness”.

The argument is similar and perhaps more persuasive in the situation with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. The Minister for Aviation and Aerospace, Festus Keyamo, SAN, was clear-headed in his decision to relocate the headquarters of FAAN to Lagos. According to him, “the workers are the heart and soul of our MDAs. We must prioritise their interests at all times”

In an eight-paragraph statement, FAAN management gave cogent reasons for the relocation: FAAN said that following wide consultations by the new Management of FAAN with stakeholders, which also involved the Unions, it was agreed that this was in the best interest of the Authority and the country for now for the following reasons:

1. Those affected by the decision to move the headquarters to Abuja have since returned to Lagos as there is no office space for them in Abuja. It was ill-advised in the first place to move the headquarters to Abuja when there was no single FAAN building in Abuja to accommodate all of them at once.

2. Having returned to Lagos, the Authority would be liable to pay them DTA (DUTY TOUR ALLOWANCE) because technically they are working OUT OF STATION as their official posting is to ABUJA. The Minister has decided to stop this waste of public resources and rip-off on the public purse.

3. ⁠The other option open to the Authority was abandon the old FAAN building in Lagos to rot away and to use its scarce resources to rent an office space in Abuja for Millions of Naira of public money when in actual fact more than sixty percent of its activities are in Lagos given the huge passenger volume of the Lagos airports. The stakeholders and the Minister decided against that and to save the country this waste.

4. ⁠The Minister has rolled out plans to get concessionaires to build befitting offices for the Authority in Lagos and Abuja and until that is done, the Authority will continue to manage its old building in Lagos that can accommodate all its Directors and senior officials for now.

5. ⁠Abuja continues to have full operational offices and the Authority has not scaled down operations in Abuja one bit. It is just the technical decision of where the Authority has its ‘corporate headquarters’ that has been taken without affecting the structure of operations as they are for now in both cities.

6. ⁠In the near future, when befitting corporate buildings have been built for the Authority in both Lagos and Abuja, a final decision will be taken as to the location of the permanent headquarters, depending on the exigencies of the time.

7. The Authority wishes to assure members of the public that it will continue to act in the best interest of the public and the country.

8. The Honourable Minister is committed to taking decisions that are in the best interest of the country, especially as it concerns public funds and will not yield to ethnic or sectional sentiments that will derail this commitment’

Federal Government Says Tinubu Has No Plan to Relocate Capital to Lagos

According to Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President, “we have noticed how mischief-makers, bent on fueling needless ethnic mistrust, have deliberately misinterpreted the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to relocate its Department of Banking Supervision to Lagos and the directive of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should relocate its head office back to Lagos.

“We consider it necessary to inform Nigerians that there is no iota of truth in the interpretations given to the directives in some quarters and the unfounded claims and rumours that President Bola Tinubu is planning to relocate the Federal Capital back to Lagos.

“These rumours, which first surfaced during the electioneering last year, was sponsored by political opponents looking for all manners of weapons to prevent Asiwaju Tinubu from being elected as president by a section of the country.

“Those behind this renewed sordid narrative, using the recent decision of the CBN and FAAN as pretext to start another round of toxic opposition, are dishonest ethnic and regional champions, trying to draw attention to themselves.

“The status of Abuja as the Federal Capital has come to stay. It is backed by law.

“The movement of FAAN, an agency of Aviation Ministry, to Lagos, where it was located before former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, moved it to Abuja during the last administration, does not amount to moving the Federal Capital to Lagos. The administrative move should have ordinarily attracted scant attention, as Lagos is the commercial capital and the hub of aviation business in Nigeria. FAAN will still maintain some presence in Abuja. It is not a wholesale movement.

“Similarly, the movement of the Department of Banking Supervision of the CBN to Lagos should not trigger any discord within the polity. The department concerned deals with commercial banks, almost all of which have their headquarters in Lagos.

“All those pushing this campaign of falsehood and misinformation know they are merely playing politics, albeit a dangerous politics, to pit the North against the South”.

Yet, another storm in a teacup may have been stilled through superior argument and proper reasoning.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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