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No, Nyesom Wike not the first from Nigeria’s southern region to become FCT minister

IN SHORT: Regional representation is closely watched in Nigeria. Claims that Wike is the first southerner to become FCT minister are not true. Such rumours have the potential to fuel tribal tensions.

Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was created in 1976. Unlike the country’s 36 states, which have elected governors, the territory is governed by a minister appointed by the president. 

The minister for the FCT is the most senior position in the government of the region, which includes the capital city of Abuja.

In August 2023, president Bola Tinubu appointed Nyesom Wike, the former governor of Rivers state, as minister of the FCT.

But a post shared on Facebook in Nigeria claims Wike is the first southerner in Nigeria to be appointed as minister of the FCT.

Regional politics are significant in Nigeria and public appointments can often cause tension. With the capital in the north of the country, the ministerial position has tended to go to the northern region. Tinubu, like Wike, is from the south. 

The post reads, in part: “This is the first time a Southerner will be holding the position of the Federal Capital Territory Minister ( FCT) Minister it has never happened before..  This is a History event..”

Southern Nigeria consists of the following states: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ekiti, Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Oyo.

The same claim appeared on Facebook here, here, here, here, here and here


Wike not the first FCT minister from the south

Nigerian media have reported that Chief Mobolaji Ajose-Adeogun was the first southerner to hold the position, as far back as 1976.

In July 2023, Nigeria's state house issued a press statement expressing condolences to the family of Ajose-Adeogun on his death. He was Nigeria's first FCT minister, it said, and hailed from Lagos state in southern Nigeria.  

Ajose-Adeogun was appointed by the military government of General Murtala Mohammed and served the FCT from 1976 to 1979. 

Wike hails from Rivers state in southern Nigeria, making him the second southerner to be appointed as minister of FCT.

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