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Lagos vs Abuja: Why they need legal status

Lagos will, in the foreseeable future, remain the nation’s commercial capital and one of its nerve centres. But in terms of servicing the present infrastructure alone, the committed amount of money and effort required will be such that Lagos State will not be ready to cope. It will even be unfair to expect the state to bear this heavy burden on its own. It is, therefore, necessary for the Federal Government to continue to sustain the substantial investment in the area. The port facilities and other economic activities in the Lagos area have to be expanded. There is need in the circumstance for the Federal Government to maintain a special defence and security arrangement in Lagos, which will henceforth be designated a SPECIAL AREA.

These arrangements will be carefully worked out and written into the constitution. Kaduna and Port Harcourt are to be accorded similar status and designated special areas under the constitution…” This is one remarkable promise to Lagos that no government since February 14, 1976 has fulfilled.

The General made the promise on February 3, 1976 and he was assassinated on February 13, 1976. Even Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the President-elect once sponsored a Bill to address the special status of Lagos but the bill couldn’t sail through. Now is the time to address the Lagos special-status bill to address Murtala’s promise Obasanjo and others failed to fulfill. In the same vein, the status of Abuja is still being debated 47 years after: Sections 299-304 of the 1999 constitution as amended hasn’t clarified it even as a democratic institution or a state. In February 1993, the then military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida set up an 11-man Presidential Panel headed by Justice Mamman Nasir, then President of Court of Appeal, to address the Status of Abuja.

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The Panel yours sincerely then described as a “Kangaroo Panel on Abuja” because of its lopsidedness, never achieved its objective before the June-12-election’s wind of annulment blew General IBB away on August 26, 1993. The 2023 presidential election result momentum seems to have set the tone for legalisation of status for Lagos and Abuja, our very significant capitals. Abuja at the moment is being run as if it were one of the states of the North.


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