IBB says FG may compensate Lagos for 1991 relocation of capital to Abuja,
says Nigeria should remain a united country
By Samuel Ogunsona
The Lagos State Government may receive Federal Government compensation for the December 1991 relocation of the Nigerian capital to Abuja. Lagos has been the capital of Nigeria since 1914. The capital was moved to Abuja in 1991 which led to huge loss of revenue and dislocation of many infrastructure in Lagos. The central government did not pay any money to Lagos contrary to traditional practices across the world.
Speaking on Tuesday, former Nigerian military dictator Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida said he was aware that the issue of compensation is being discussed at the highest level of government
Babangida who spoke on a wide range of issue also said since 1969, bullet shrapnel had been lodged in his body after his sector was ambushed between Enugu and Umuahia during the Nigerian civil war. The shrapnel remained in his body even at 80 years. He said a Yoruba professor of Medicine, Elebute had advised him not to do surgery, that the strange object could stay in his body comfortably through his life time and that he trusted his judgment.
He said he was scared to do the surgery but felt comfortable with the professional advice of Prof Elebu. On the campaign for self determination in some parts of the country, Babangida said “Nigeria should remain a united country.” He said the country should work harder to prevent a slide into disunity adding that having fought during the civil war, he did not want to see a replay of the human mystery. On the need to pay compensation to Lagos after the relocation of the capital, he said ” Yes. Lagos should get compensation. The issue is being discussed at the highest level. The Lagos State House of Assembly members came to me. The issue is being discussed,” Babangida said on TVC Journalist Hangout after a multiple award winning Journalist asked him why his government did not pay compensation to the Government of Lagos State after relocating the capital to Abuja from the historic city.
The process of relocation began in 1976 when assassinated Head of State Murtala Mohammed set up a committee led by appointed former Chief Justice Akinola Aguda who had earlier recommended Agege, Ile Ife and Abuja among others. The Murtala Mohammed Government hand picked Abuja. The practice across the world is to pay huge compensation to cities when capitals were being relocated but Lagos got nothing for the relocation even in the face of inestimable financial cost inflicted by the relocation. For instance, the movement of the capital of Germany from Bonn to Berlin was marked with compensation of with 29 June 1994 providing for 1.437 billion Euros to be used between 1995 and 2004 to Bonn. The Act managed the movement of the capital from Bonn to Berlin after the reunification of East and West Germany. The Act was enacted on 26 April 1994. In the case of Lagos, several Federal Government buildings and foreign missions were compelled to relocate to the new capital Abuja without a dime paid inspite of the huge deficit that Lagos suffered following the relocation.