My regrets as head of state—Gowon.
TWENTY Six years after relocation of the seat of government to Abuja, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, retd, said yesterday that his only regret was that he did not use his power and position as the head of state to appropriate land for his personal use.
He also said as the Commander-in-Chief, he had powers to make Jos, and not Abuja, the capital of Nigeria but refused to do so.because he was not prepared to be clouded by sentiments and selfishness. He said he took these decisions because of his conviction that personal interest should not override national interest. Gowon, who spoke at the 26th anniversary exhibition and commemoration of the movement of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja, organized by the Federal Capital Territory Archives and History Bureau in Abuja yesterday, said he did not make Jos the capital because he was also afraid of being accused of parochialism, given the fact that Jos was close to his place of birth. According to him, the idea of moving from Lagos to Abuja was conceived by his government in 1974, and that those who were passionate about the ideas, such as the late General Murtala Mohammed, continued with the project after he left government.
Gowon, however, lamented that despite being the initiator of the idea that gave birth to the present Federal Capital Territory, successive governments marginalized him by not naming any street after him until he officially complained to former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, retd. Speaking further, Gowon explained that he suspected the reason for such treatment because some military officers who were close to the government alleged that he had a hand in the death of Murtala Mohammed. “I had to officially complain to General Ibrahim Babangida when he was the Military President, that I have been excluded from getting a street named after me in Abuja, while all other members of the military council who nurtured the idea, had got streets name after them,’’ he said.
“ It is important that we note that the current system of funding infrastructure through statutory allocation is, indeed, not sustainable. ‘’This is because the fund is no longer there. Government has done so much to drive development and brought the city to this point. The time has come for the private sector to drive the new process,’’ he said.
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