Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has no plans to move the country’s capital from Abuja to Lagos, his office says.
The presidency blamed political opponents for such rumours, saying “there is no iota of truth” in them.
The speculation began before Mr Tinubu, who once served as governor of Lagos, took power last May.
It reached fever pitch this week after it was announced that the airports agency and a central bank department were moving to Lagos.
Abuja replaced Lagos as Nigeria’s capital in 1991. It was a purpose-built, planned city – its location chosen because it is in the centre of the country, while Lagos is on the south-west coast.
Lagos, the capital during British colonial rule, remains the country’s economic hub and biggest city.
The presidency said it had decided to issue a statement to scotch the rumours about relocating the capital as “mischief-makers” seemed bent on “fuelling needless ethnic mistrust”.
“The people pushing the relocation narrative are playing dangerous politics, to pit the north against the south,” said Bayo Onanuga, a presidential adviser who issued the statement.
Nigeria is split between the mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south – though Africa’s most-populous nation has more than 250 ethnic groups speaking more 500 distinct languages.
There are three main three groups: Hausa in the north, Yoruba in the west and Igbo in the east.
In recent years some figures from the south-west region surrounding Lagos have been calling for a separate Yoruba nation – though it is not regarded as a serious threat.
Because Mr Tinubu is from the Yoruba community, some fear that he would like to move the capital as part of a plan to favour the south-west over the rest of the country.
But this was denied by his adviser.
“President Tinubu-led administration is working tirelessly to be just and equitable to every section of the country,” Mr Onanuga said.
The relocation of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (Faan) and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s banking supervision department to Lagos was purely administrative, he added.
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