In a recent development, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has strongly opposed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) plan to relocate key departments to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub. The forum expressed its apprehension in a statement signed by Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the Director of Publicity and Advocacy/Spokesperson for NEF.
The NEF raised concerns about the potential ramifications of concentrating vital CBN departments in Lagos, emphasizing the possible reinforcement of the city’s economic dominance while diminishing the significance of Abuja, the current headquarters. The relocation, according to NEF, may lead to increased costs, talent loss, operational disruptions, reduced coordination, regional economic disparities, and a negative impact on investor confidence.
Highlighting the importance of the affected departments, including Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection, Payment System Management, and Financial Policy Regulations, NEF underscored their critical role in the CBN’s functioning as per the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act.
NEF acknowledged the CBN’s intention to enhance efficiency but expressed worries about the potential negative effects on the institution and the nation. The forum outlined several potential consequences, including the financial strain on CBN’s budget due to the need for significant investments in setting up new offices and infrastructure in Lagos.
Additionally, NEF pointed out the risk of a brain drain, as skilled employees may be reluctant or unable to relocate, impacting the CBN’s performance. The forum also raised concerns about the potential disruption in CBN’s operations during the transition period, leading to decreased productivity and efficiency.
The geographical relocation was viewed as a hindrance to effective coordination with other government agencies in Abuja, potentially resulting in increased bureaucracy and slower response times. NEF warned that such a move could exacerbate regional economic disparities, perpetuating the perception of Lagos as the economic center and creating social and political tensions, particularly in Northern Nigeria.
As the debate unfolds, the NEF’s stance adds another layer to the ongoing discussions surrounding the proposed relocation, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive evaluation of the potential economic, operational, and social implications before any final decisions are made.