Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), said the relocation of the Federal Capital Territory from Lagos to Abuja was based on the territorial integrity of the country.
Gowon said this at the commemoration of the movement of seat of government of the federation from Lagos to Abuja on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said the decision to relocate to Abuja was largely based on security of the country’s territorial integrity.
Gowon recalled that the idea of Abuja started during his time, adding that the concept of Abuja was done by him.
He said: “I have gone round to see other capitals of the world and we needed somewhere central to take away the crowd of Lagos and that was when we conceived the idea, but there was a change of government.”
He lauded the continuity of the idea which was conceived in 1974 but realised in 1976, adding that Lagos State would remain the economy strength of the country.
Also speaking, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Muhammad Bello, said the commemoration was an opportunity to reflect on the 26 years of the country’s final relocation.
He urged the citizenry to work together to safeguard their collective heritage by joining hands to protect all public utilities and infrastructure procured at great cost.
Bello said that the present administration was working hard to complete ongoing projects which would enhance the liveability of the city.
He said: “We have achieved substantial milestones in this regard and presently, our focus is shifting to area councils and satellite towns.”
According to Bello, we are poised to ensure the navigability of the city, economic vibrancy as well as improved service delivery across the board.
He urged Nigerians to support the present administration’s change agenda, especially in its effort to reduce corruption in the country.
According to him, the location of the nation’s capital makes it easier for the promotion of national integration and development.
In his remarks, Umar Jibril, the Executive Secretary, Federal Capital Development Authority, said the Abuja project was on course, in spite of the myriad of challenges facing the city.
According to Jibril, we have gotten the ministerial approval for the review of the Abuja Master Plan in 2018.
He said the concept of urban renewal and integration would be considered in the review process.
Bello also appealed to the FCT Original inhabitants to be understanding and patient with the government in its bid to improve infrastructure in the nation’s capital.