Arewa stakeholders dissociate self from protest against relocation of FAAN to Lagos

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…says former Aviation Minister, Sirika should allow Tinubu’s administration to function

Arewa Consultative Youth and Women Forum (ACYWF) has clearly distanced itself from the criticism and protest in some quarters over the relocation of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos.

The Forum, comprising over 50 Arewa Groups, rather, appraised recent efforts by the President Bola Tinubu’s administration in the Aviation sector, including the relocation of FAAN to Lagos, saying they were satisfied with the developments.

This was, even as, the Northern Forum has sent a strong message to the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to stay off President Tinubu’s government and allow the administration to propel the policies and programmes it deems necessary to renew and reform the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

ACYWF, in a statement signed on Tuesday by the National President, Alhaji Adamu Mohammed Matazu, lauded the bold step taken by President Tinubu in relocating FAAN, saying, it does not matter the location the office is sighted, provided that efficiency and productivity are not compromised.

“We read with total shock how some of our people have decided to trivialise issues of national importance like the relocation of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria office to Lagos.

“What we have not yet understood is what they stand to gain in all of these. We have a plethora of issues begging for regional emergency and attention. We are faced with insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, and insurgency across our land. We have countless IDPs centres that should rather bother us on how to relocate them to their ancestral homes.

“It would have been a good discourse if our Northern elders are talking to the President on how to relocate these IDPs, create rehabilitation centres for the victims of attacks, bring humanitarian interventions to the people, creating more empowerment for the people and getting some of the moribund cottage industries and factories in the north to work again.

“The last time we checked, Lagos was still part of Nigeria, and most of the government infrastructures domiciled in Lagos are doing well. It would have been a different thing if FAAN was moved to Benin Republic or Niger.

“If moving FAAN to Lagos will bring the desired reform and change the face of the Aviation industry for the betterment of all Nigerians, we the youths and women leaders from the North are fully in support of it. We believe in one Nigeria, and we believe in the progress and development of this nation.

“We don’t have two countries. Some of us haven’t gone out of this country before, not to talk of acquiring two citizenship. So, we must believe in Nigeria and support the Nigeria project, “the Forum said.

According to ACYWF, “the recent increase of kidnap in the city centre of the Federal Capital Territory should be of great concern to everyone. If kidnappers could visit Army Estate in Abuja and conveniently kidnap their victims, then they could attack anywhere in Abuja. This is why some multinational companies are contemplating relocating their offices and foreign embassies to Lagos, where security is guaranteed. ”

The Forum cautioned former Aviation Minister, Senator Sirika, and others to stop blackmailing efforts of the Tinubu administration.

It said, “Sirika wasted the opportunity to write his name in gold. Ordinarily, he should be cooling off somewhere by now but has resolved to be sponsoring all manner of blackmails against this government, which is totally wrong.

“Sirika is yet to explain how he allegedly swindled the Federal Government in the Air Nigeria project, not to talk of how he spent N12 billion to purchase 10 fire trucks, meaning that each truck cost N1.2 billion; or how he spent $600,000 on logo design, contracted to a Bahraini company before the project was suspended”.

The Forum declared support for Tinubu’s government, saying, no amount of blackmail would deter them from praying for the President to succeed, in his quest to renew the hope of Nigerians, “northerners inclusive”.

Recall that the relocation of FAAN was officially announced by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, in a memo dated January 15, 2024, and signed by the Managing Director of FAAN, Mrs Olubunmi Kuku.

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and some northern groups, especially, Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations (JACNYA) have criticized the move, describing it as a deliberate ploy to further underdevelop the northern region of the country.

Addressing a press conference on Monday in Kaduna, JACNYA said the relocation of FAAN headquarters to Lagos, “is a clear violation of the federal character principle enshrined in the constitution”.