39 YEARS AGO – One of the great speeches he made during his 200-day rule of Nigeria was the one of February 3, 1976. In the address to “Fellow Nigerians”, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed said, among other things, that the ruling Supreme Military Council and the National Council of State had deliberated on reports submitted by a panel set up to determine the location of Nigeria’s federal capital.
Gen. Muhammed stated: “The panel on the location of the Federal Capital has recommended that the nation’s capital should move out of Lagos to a federal territory of about 8,000 square kilometres in the central part of the country. The Supreme Military Council has accepted this recommendation. The site recommended satisfied the panel’s criteria of centrality, good and tolerable climate, land availability and use, inadequate water supply, low population density, physical planning convenience, security and multi-access possibility. The area is not within the control of any of the major ethnic groups in the country. We believe that the new capital created on such virgin lands as suggested will be for all Nigerians a symbol of their oneness and unity. The Federal Territory will belong to all Nigerians.
“The few local inhabitants in the area who need to be moved out of the territory for planning purposes will be resettled outside the area in places of their choice at government’s expense.
“In order to avoid land speculation in the area, a decree is being promulgated immediately to vest all land in the Federal Territory in the Federal Government. A Federal Capital Development Authority is to be established to plan and administer the territory. An administrator for the Federal Territory will soon be appointed to provide municipal services in the area…”



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