The story behind the change of Nigeria’s capital from Lagos to Abuja.

So many countries in the world have moved their capital for one reason or another. Countries such as Burma moved her capital from Rangoon to Naypyidaw in 2005; Brazil moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia in 1961; Cote d’Ivoire moved her capital from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro in 1983. On the 12th day of December 1991, Nigeria joined the list of nations that have changed their capital cities when she moved her capital from Lagos to Abuja.

The change was made possible by General Murtala Mohammed in 1975 when he established a 7-man panel under the leadership of Dr. Akinola Aoguda to scrutinize the issue of new capital for Nigeria. The 7-man panel after carrying out an intensive study suggested Abuja and the military government under Decree NO. 6 of 1976 created the Federal Capital Development Authority to help the planning and designing of the Federal Capital Territory. Unfortunately, the Murtala administration did not live to finish what it began due to an unsuccessful but blood-soaked coup of 1976 that led to his death. Successive government added their quota during their administration, but the dream became a reality in 1991 by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Many write-ups on the internet claim the change boils down to tribalism by a Muslim cabal but that’s not true. The fact of the matter is that Lagos is a coastal city neighboring the Atlantic ocean. Thus, making the city prone to attacks from the sea or air by enemy countries; and in war, when a capital city collapses, the entire nation collapses. On the contrary, Abuja in the center of Nigeria. That aside, Overpopulation was also a major factor behind the change of capital. Lagos is a very populated city due to the fact it was not just the heart of commercial activities, but also the city where many run to for greener-pasture. This overpopulation resulted in serious environmental degradation and the government deemed it wasn’t right for a capital city to be congested.


When Lagos was the capital, “Lagosians” were fond of claiming the city as the land of the Yoruba tribe, whereas a capital shouldn’t be considered as a place for a specific tribe or group, Unlike Lagos, Abuja does not belong to any tribe, it is the home for every Nigerian. From the onset, Lagos was not built to be the capital of Nigeria, but Abuja was built and designed for the sole purpose of being the capital city of our beloved country.

Also, Lagos as a limited land for future expansion, but Abuja has excess land in reserve for future expansion.

To round it up, Lagos was made capital of Nigeria by the colonial master and when Nigeria got her interdependence on the 1st of October 1960, there was a need to relocate the capital to send out the message to the world that Nigeria was no under the control of the British and can make its own decisions.


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