The Northern Leaders Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed serious concerns over the reported plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to relocate key departments from its Abuja headquarters to the former headquarters in Lagos. NEF opposes the move, asserting that it could exacerbate economic disparities between Northern and Southern Nigeria.

    In a statement issued by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, NEF emphasized the significance of the affected departments—Banking Supervision (DBS), Other Financial Institutions Supervision (OFISD), Consumer Protection Department (CPD), Payment System Management Department (PSMD), and Financial Policy Regulations Department (FPRD)—as vital components of the CBN.

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    The statement highlighted that relocating these departments to Lagos, as proposed, may strengthen the already dominant position of Lagos while potentially diminishing the importance of Abuja. While NEF acknowledges the CBN’s desire for efficiency, it expressed worries about the potential adverse effects on both the institution and the nation, citing increased costs, talent loss, operational disruptions, reduced coordination, regional economic disparities, impaired development in Northern Nigeria, and decreased investor confidence in the nation’s economy.

    The NEF spokesperson highlighted potential consequences, stating, “It would necessitate significant financial investment as the CBN would need to allocate funds for establishing new offices, acquiring or leasing properties, relocating staff, and other infrastructural needs. This could strain the CBN’s budget, diverting resources from other crucial functions and initiatives.

    “The CBN has a well-established workforce in Abuja, comprising professionals with substantial knowledge and experience. The relocation of key departments to Lagos may result in the loss of skilled employees who may be unwilling or unable to move. This potential brain drain could adversely affect the CBN’s performance and efficiency.

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    “Relocation would entail a temporary disruption in the CBN’s operations. Employees would require time to adapt to their new environment, potentially causing delays in decision-making and implementation. The transition period might lead to diminished productivity, inefficient processes, and decreased service levels, further impacting the CBN’s effectiveness.”

    The NEF emphasized that relocating key departments to a different geographical location would impede effective coordination and communication with other government agencies in Abuja.

    The statement highlighted, “The CBN, as the nation’s monetary authority, relies on close cooperation with other bodies, such as the Ministry of Finance and relevant regulatory authorities. Physical separation may lead to increased bureaucracy and slower response times, negatively affecting policy formulation and execution.”

    The NEF expressed deep concern about the potential impact of the proposed relocation on the lives of the affected staff members. Reports suggest that the move could affect 1,533 dedicated staff members, prompting some individuals, especially married women who are predominantly from the North, to contemplate resigning.

    The statement emphasized, “We believe it is crucial to consider the impact on the personal lives and families of these staff members, especially married women who may struggle to cope with this decision.

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    “The NEF urges the CBN and relevant authorities to prioritize the nation’s overall progress and the well-being of its citizens. We recommend a holistic approach that considers not only the efficiency and effectiveness of departmental operations but also the livelihoods and future development of all regions of Nigeria.

    “We urge the government to thoroughly evaluate the potential drawbacks of such a move. It is important to consider the impact on Abuja’s role as the capital city, the potential repercussions on regional development and economic balance, and the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the relocated departments in serving their intended purpose.”

    Additionally, shifting crucial departments to Lagos, situated in the southwestern part of Nigeria, could worsen regional economic disparities. Concentrating important positions and offices in one region may reinforce the perception of Lagos as the economic center, potentially marginalizing other regions, particularly Northern Nigeria. The NEF warned that this could heighten feelings of neglect or economic imbalance, leading to social and political tensions.

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