I regret not using my power to allocate land for my personal use, Gowon laments - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

I regret not using my power to allocate land for my personal use, Gowon laments

I regret not using my power to allocate land for my personal use, Gowon laments

FORMER Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), on Tuesday, lamented that despite been the initiator of the idea that gave birth to the present Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as the nation’s capital, successive governments marginalized him by not naming any street after him, until he officially complained to General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd).

He further lamented that the only regret he had was that he did not use his power as the head of state to appropriate land for his personal use.

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General Gowon, who stated this in Abuja at the 26th anniversary exhibition and commemoration of the movement of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja, organised by the Federal Capital Territory Archives and History Bureau, further said that he had the powers to make Jos, the Plateau State the Capital of Nigeria, but he did not do so, because he was afraid of been accused of ‘parochialism’, given the fact that Jos was close to his place of birth.

He said that he suspected the reason for such treatment could be because some military brass who were opportuned to be close to government alleged that he had a hand in the death of Murtala Mohammed.

According to him, “I had to officially complain to General Ibrahim Babangida, when he was the Military President, that I have been excluded from getting a street named after me in Abuja, while all other members of the Military Council who nurtured the idea, had gotten streets name after them.”

He added that to make sure that the project of moving the Capital from Lagos to Abuja was not frustated, he instructed Alhaji Shehu Shagari who was his Minister of Finance to set aside funds from the excess funds for the purpose of pursuing the dream.

Gowon, who demonstrated an impeccable mental agility in recounting the history of the movement, said that the idea was conceived by his government in 1974, and those who were passionate about the ideas like the late General Murtala Mohammed continued with the project after he left government.

According to him, the first place he found that looked strategic and beautiful for the Capital of Nigeria was Jos in Plateau state. He said though the thought came, but he could not sustain it to fruition because he would have been accused of been parochial and showing favouritism.

“One of the places I saw that attracted me was somewhere in Plateau, those of you who know the place especially close to Jos forest,  will agree that the area is beautiful and I thought that place was beautiful for the capital city.

“But I did not make that choice because I would have been accused of parocialism, and favoritism, because it was very close to my original place where I come from. So I said no , I must look at other place the search for a new capital took me round the northwest, and in my state visits, I continued to look for other places,  when I came to Abuja, I was attracted.

Meanwhile, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Mohammad Bello, who was represented at the occasion by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Christian Ohaa, said that the theme: “From Dodan Barracks to Aso Rock” was apt and provides the platform for strategic evaluations of the giant steps after 26 years of the relocation.

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Bello who, who was represented by the FCT Permanent Secretary, said that the developmental strides in Abuja did not come by chance, but by painstaking sacrifices of the founding leaders, however said that the current system of funding infrastructure through statutory allocation was no longer sustainable. He added that government may consider other options in developing the city.

“It is important that we note that the current system of funding infrastructure through statutory allocation is indeed not sustainable. This is because the fund is no longer there.

Government has done so much to drive development and brought the city to this point. The time has come for the private sector to drive the new process,” he noted.

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