Lagos is number one and does not need to be Nigeria’s capital to come first! By Jesutega Onokpasa

I vividly remember a certain remarkable phenomenon back when the capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja by the General Ibrahim Babangida military junta.

It became known as “Abuja marriage” and evolved as an arrangement amongst civil servants who, while being otherwise strange bedfellows, where nevertheless forced to cohabit due to shortage of accommodation as a result of federal staffers being suddenly forced to relocate en masse from Lagos to the new federal capital.

Indeed, quite a few gentlemen ended up having their “original” wife back in Lagos with a newly minted one in Abuja!

Some women saw their marriages crash completely due to similar forced arrangements with quite a few ending up with no husband at all since their “original” “Lagos husband” dumped them while things did not end up working out with the prospective “Abuja husband”.

It took many years for people to finally settle down in Abuja to the extent of the federal capital territory becoming the thriving metropolis with its network of suburbs that it has become today.

Funny enough, back then, the real surprise turned out not to be what happened to Abuja due to its becoming the federal capital: the city just began to explode in gigantic leaps and humongous bounds, which was to be expected.

The real, and quite astonishing, surprise was the fact that back in Lagos, no one even seemed to notice the move of the capital to Abuja!

And, this is a very important point to note on the part of the ignoramuses and rabble-rousers currently spreading rumours of a clandestine move to relocate our federal capital back to Lagos.

I remember a now demised uncle of mine visiting me in Lagos from Warri at the time and being astounded that there was nothing he could notice that indicated to him that the federal capital had been moved by Babangida from Lagos!

Indeed, as he put it, he had been apprehensive that Lagos was going to “fall” after the move but as far as he could tell, it seemed to be “booming” even more!

This realization quickly became quite immanent in Lagos and indeed, we still witnessed the same traffic during rush hours with ever more people trooping into the state.

This narrative that President Bola Tinubu is trying to move the capital back to Lagos is as utterly ridiculous as it is entirely without basis.

Nothing would even irritate Lagosians more than for their megacity to become even more choked and difficult to navigate around than it already is.

Lagosians don’t miss the federal capital not being in Lagos one damn bit and have absolutely no interest in seeing it return to their ever bustling metropole.

On the contrary, they are quite proud of their city and state as the number one reference point in the entire continent of Africa despite it not being the federal capital of the continent’s number one nation.

It is not even as if Lagosians moved on as such; they simply came to the realization that their city was so solid, it didn’t have to be a federal capital to thrive and be number one.

Lagos does not want or need to be Nigeria’s capital to be number one in Nigeria in as much as New York City does not need or want to be America’s capital to be its “Big Apple”, or, Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo need to be Brazil’s capital to be the two top cities in that country.

Lagosians don’t want their city to be the capital of Nigeria and are not asking for the capital to return to their city because they know that with or without it, their city is still number one, case closed.

That’s just Lagosians for you and, indeed, nobody contributed more to ensuring the emergence of Lagos as a pacesetter and center of excellence in our country than President Tinubu.

What he did in Lagos as Governor, he has started doing on a national scale as President across the entire country, starting with Abuja, its capital.

This crap about the capital being moved back to Lagos is a most revolting falsehood being machinated by “Obidients” and their equally pathologically lying “Atikulate” cousins.

Unfortunately, a handful of Northerners seem to have allowed themselves to be led by the nose by these shameful liars and fallen prey to their sensationalist fabrications and highly unpatriotic exaggerations.

It is not even remotely possible to move the capital of a country by stealth and there is absolutely nowhere in this world where a capital city was ever surreptitiously moved from one place to another.

In fact, in order to move the capital of a country, the first person to relocate is usually the President, himself!

General Babangida relocated to Abuja while the bulk of ministries, departments and agencies, including the majority of federal staffers, were still back in Lagos.

The same dynamic has historically obtained in other countries of the world where national capitals changed.

One of the very first buildings built in Washington DC was the White House, itself.

President George Washington, who actually built it, was not able to move into it before his tenure ended so its first occupant was actually his successor, President John Adams, whose wife Abigail Adams, famously complained about the challenges of making a proper home of the new executive mansion at the time.

Similar dynamics played out in other countries which relocated their capitals such as Tanzania (Dar es Salam to Dodoma), Myanmar (Rangoon to Naypyidaw) or Brazil (from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro and finally to Brasilia).

In any case, this is a democracy governed by constitutional order and regulated by the rule of law wherein it is not even possible to move a capital city by military fiat as obtained under General Babangida.

Indeed, it would require no less than a constitutional amendment to be able to relocate our national capital from Abuja to Sapele, Funtua, Iseyin, Awomama, Agatu, Opobo or back to Lagos, for that matter!

But for the fact that far too many people in this country seem to be rather quite comfortable with wallowing in ignorance while self-destructively feeding themselves obese upon a regular diet of lies, rumours, unhinged speculations and fake news, no sensible person could have ever taken this total nonsense of a federal capital being moved so seriously that it became a major topic of discussion!

Sadly, we seem just too primed to quarrel over unfounded suspicions and rather too prepared to spar over nonexistent issues in this country.

All too often, the disputes Nigerians waste precious time and valuable energy on are actually entirely fictional and sometimes you can stand back, observe your fellow countrymen and be quite astounded at their predilection for totally meaningless disputation!

This insane talk of the capital being moved back to Lagos is pure insanity and shame on those propagating it.

It must stop immediately.

Onokpasa, a lawyer, writes from Abuja.

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