I Begged To Have Abuja Street Named After Me –Gowon

By Ikenga Chronicles December 14, 2017

I Begged To Have Abuja Street Named After Me –Gowon

Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon revealed that he begged former Military Head Of State, Ibrahim Babangida before a street was named after him in Abuja. Gowon said this in Abuja at the 26th-anniversary exhibition and commemoration of the movement of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja.

The exhibition was entitled “From Dodan Barracks to Aso Rock.”

Gowon, who ruled Nigeria for nine years from 1966 to 1975, however, said his only regret was that he did not move the capital from Lagos even though his administration conceived the idea of the movement.

“I had powers to make Jos, and not Abuja, the capital of Nigeria but refused to do so because I was not prepared to be clouded by sentiments and selfishness,” he said.

He said he took those decisions because of his conviction that personal interest should not override national interest, stressing that the idea of moving the seat of Nigeria’s government from Lagos to Abuja was conceived by his government in 1974.

“Those who were passionate about the ideas, such as the late General Murtala Mohammed, continued with the project after I left government.

“One of the places I saw that attracted me was somewhere in Plateau, those of you who know the place, especially close to Jos forest, will agree that the area is beautiful and I thought that place was beautiful for the capital city. But I did not make that choice because I would have been accused of parochialism and favoritism, because it was very close to the original place where I come from.

“I must look at other places, the search for a new capital took me round the North-west, and in my state, I continued to look for other places. When I came to Abuja, I was attracted,” he said.

Gowon lamented that despite being the initiator of the idea that gave birth to the present Federal Capital Territory, successive governments marginalised him by not naming any street after him until he officially complained to former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida.

He said he suspected the reason for such treatment was because some military officers who were close to the government alleged that he had a hand in the death of Mr. Mohammed, who was assassinated in an abortive coup just over six months after he overthrew Gowon.

“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 named after them,” he said.

He said to ensure that the project of moving the capital from Lagos to Abuja was not frustrated, he instructed Shehu Shagari, who was his Minister of Finance, to set aside funds from the excess funds for the purpose of pursuing the dream.