Yakubu Gowon, former head of state, says he would have made Jos Nigeria’s capital, but for the fear of being accused of “parochialism and favouritism”.
He said this on Tuesday at the 26th anniversary exhibition and commemoration of the movement of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja.
Gowon, who was the head of state from 1966 to 1975, said the idea of moving the nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja was conceived by his government in 1974.
The former head of state said in the course of his search for a new capital city, he was attracted to somewhere in Plateau. Gowon is from Kanke local government area in Plateau state.
He said: “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 my original place where I come from. So I said no, I must look at other places.
“The search for a new capital took me around the north-west, and in my state, I continued to look for other places. When I came to Abuja, I was attracted.”
Gowon said although he was the brain behind the present federal capital territory, successive governments failed to name a street in the city after him.
“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.
Abuja was made Nigeria’s capital on December 12, 1991.