By Akin Ojumu

It’s the silly season in Nigeria. The country is in that period when politicians twist history and their poorly paid mouthpieces say outrageous things. 

In a quixotic effort to shore up the not-too-impressive profile of their geriatric principal, hungry looking BAT lackeys are crawling out of the woodworks to make a bonfire of history books and are recreating a past that existed in their own cynical imagination.

Here’s the latest from the campaign of BAT, the builder of Lagos. It’s a doozy.

Wole Badmus, the Executive Director of the Southwest Grand Alliance for Tinubu-Shettima 2023, went on Channels TV the other day to promote his oga. Brewing a cocktail of hyperbole laced with mendacious bombasts, the man concocted a fabulous story about why the capital of Nigeria was moved from Lagos to Abuja.

According to the fabulist, Nigeria’s government had to relocate the capital to Abuja because Lagos became uninhabitable; the city was in a state of chaos and the infrastructure in decay. And it took BAT, his man, to restore Lagos to its glory. According to Badmus, it was Bola Tinubu who built modern Lagos and the renaissance of Lagos is owed to Asiwaju.

Now, that’s one tale I have never heard before. I didn't realize that the seat of Nigeria's government was moved from Dodan Barracks to Aso Rock because of the anarchy and dilapidation that Lagos had become. All this while, I always thought the decision to relocate to Abuja was following the report of the Commission headed by Justice Akinola Aguda which led to a February 4, 1976 military decree and a subsequent Abuja Master Plan.

I know I’m old and my memory is not as it used to be. Notwithstanding, I still remember the many reasons advanced by the government explain the need for a new capital city. And not one of them had anything to do with the decay of Lagos.

(1) The military regime wanted a capital that is strategically located in the interior of the country, unlike a coastal city like Lagos. This was informed by the logic of the not-so-bright military rulers that the more interior a nation's capital, the more secure it is.

(2) Another reason put forward was the importance of having a political capital that is separate and distinct from its economic center that Lagos had become. What difference this makes is still beyond me.

(3) Lagos being historically and traditionally a Yoruba city, there were agitations by other ethnic groups in the country to have a capital city that is neutral and to which no ethnic group can lay sole claim. 

Again, this is another excuse that never made sense to me. It is fatuous and disingenuous at best. Abuja had indigenous people living in the area that is now the Federal Capital Territory, and it is an area under the influence of Hausa/Fulani people.

(4) The successive military junta that ruled Nigeria in this period was looking to build a capital city from scratch that is well planned and laid out unlike Lagos which was really a Frankenstein of a city. The vision was a cosmopolitan city with well laid-out road networks, functioning sewer system, distinct business district, residential zones, modern recreational center, etc., all planned and mapped out. 

Thirty-two years later, Nigeria has happened to Abuja; the city is as unplanned and haphazard as Lagos.

I may not be a history major, but no one can pull a wool over my eyes when it comes to historical events in Nigeria. BAT and his henchmen cannot rewrite history.

There is a saying in America; “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

When a candidate resorts to exaggerations, confabulations, and revisionist history, you know they ain’t got much to sell. BAT and his yes-men are pounding the table and yelling like hell because they are trying to sell Nigerians a “melon” (i.e., an old, rusted car that’s way passed its mechanical limits) and Nigerians arent ready to buy a relic with knocked engine. 


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