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Afenifere, MBF counter Nothern Senators on 2024 budget, relocation of federal agencies



Reactions have started pouring in over allegations by the Northern Senators Forum that allocations in the 2024 federal budget was lopsided against the North.

The Senators also alleged the relocation of federal agencies and some departments at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was meant to further under-develop the North.

In their reactions, regional groups, such as the Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, flayed the senators for giving the impression that Nigeria wasn’t yet a nation, stressing that what was paramount was the result.

Afenifere, in its reaction through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, said it is on record that some departments of the agencies were originally in Lagos.

Ajayi added that Afenifere does not see anything wrong with the planned relocation if it will enhance the agencies’ performance.

His said: “It is on record that some of those departments of the CBN and FAAN were originally in Lagos. We even understand that the structure for some of those departments were constructed during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. It is not as if this administration is starting something new.

“In many countries, there are some government agencies that are spread to various parts of the country. In this particular case, we don’t see anything wrong with it. Each of these departments is manned by officers from various parts of this country.

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“What should be uppermost in the minds of all Nigerians is performance. As an organisation, we do not encourage nepotism and we do not say that projects should be concentrated in a particular area.”

The MBF, in its own reaction, said it is myopic and unpatriotic for anyone to claim the Federal Government is on a mission to underdevelop the North by relocating any agency of government from Abuja to the Lagos or the South.

The National President of the MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said the protest is an indication that Nigeria is yet to attain the status of a nation.

He said: “It is unfortunate that this country has not become a nation yet. Up till now, some people only think of themselves, their enclave, their tribe, their religion and not Nigeria.

“Some of these agencies are better there in Lagos. Where is our stock exchange? So if you relocate something or organisation that has its command to Lagos, does it take away anything from the North? Has the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, been taken from the North to the South? It is not even the North, Abuja is central Nigeria and not North. That is why the Gbagi and others were told that there is nothing like tribal group in Abuja. It is the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, for everybody in Nigeria.

“So if some functions and agencies are taken to the South, it doesn’t amount to anything, it does not amount to witch-hunting the North. So we should not be reasoning in this manner against the South.

“I recall that before former President Buhari left office, almost 90 per cent of the top echelon of the NNPC was made up of Northerners. And up till now, a very significant number are Northerners.

‘’Have Southerners said that the fact the crude oil is got from the South or South South, Northerners should not occupy those positions? So it is myopic and unpatriotic for people to talk in that manner.”

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