The bitter truth about the Igbos
By Femi Fani-Kayode
|Dr Alex Ekwueme, Chief Achike Udenwa, Dr Samuel Egwu,|
Senator Ben Obi and Others during an Igbo Summit
It is amazing how one or two of the numerous nationalities that make up Nigeria secretly wish that they were Yoruba and consistently lay claim to Lagos as being partly theirs. Have they forgotten where they came from?
I have never heard of a Yoruba wanting to give the impression to the world that he is an Igbo,an Ijaw, an Efik or a Hausa-Fulani or claiming that he is a co-owner of Port Harcourt, Enugu, Calabar, Kano or Kaduna. Yet more often than not,some of those that are not of Yoruba extraction but that have lived in Lagos for some part of their lives have tried to claim that they are bonafide Lagosians and honorary members of the Yoruba race. Clearly it is time for us to answer the nationality question.
These matters have to be settled once and for all. Lagos and the South-west are the land and the patrimony of the Yoruba and we will not allow anyone, no matter how fond of them we may be, to take it away from us or share it with us in the name of''being nice'',''patriotism'',''one Nigeria''or anything else.
The day that the Yoruba are allowed to lay claim to exactly the same rights and privileges that the indigenous people in non-Yoruba states and zones enjoy and the day they can operate freely and become commissioners and governors in the Niger Delta states, the North, the Middle-Belt and the South-east, we may reconsider our position. But, until then, we shall not do so. Lagos is not a''no-man's land'' but the land and heritage of the Yoruba people. Others should not try to claim what is not theirs.
I am not involved in this debate for fun or for political gain and I am not participating in it to play politics but rather to speak the truth, to present the relevant historical facts to those that wish to learn and to educate the uninformed. That is why I write without fear or favour and that is why I intend to be thoroughly candid and brutally frank in this essay.
And Iam not too concerned or worried aboutwhat anyonemaythink or how theymayfeel about what I am about tosaybecause I am a servant of truth and the truth must be told no matter how bitter it is and no matter whose ox is gored. That truth is as follows.
The Yoruba, more than any other nationality in this country in the last 100 years, have been far too accommodating and tolerant when it comes to their relationship with other nationalitiesin this countryand this is often donetotheir own detriment.
That is why some of our Igbo brothers can make some of the sort of asinine remarks and contributions that a few of them have been making in this debate both in the print media and in numerous social media portals and networks ever since Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola ''deported'' 19 Igbo destitute to Anambra State a while ago.In the last 80 years, the Igbo have been shown more generosity, accommodation, warmth and kindness and given more opportunities and leverage by the Yoruba than they have been offered by ANY other ethnic group in Nigeria. This is a historical fact.
The Yoruba do not have any resentment for the Igbo and we have allowed them to do in our land and our territory what they have never allowed us to do in theirs. This has been so for 80 long years and it is something that we are very proud of. As I said elsewhere recently, to be accommodating and generous is a mark of civilization and it comes easily to people like the Yoruba who once ruled empires.
It does not come so easily to those who never had any history at all and who never even had monarchs or structured, properly-organised hierarchical societies that placed value on tradition and culture.The reason why many of our people take strong exception to the apparent outrage of the Igbo over this ''deportation'' issue and the provocative comments of my friend and brother Chief Orji Uzor Kalu when he described Lagos as being a ''no man's land''is because the Igbo have not only taken us for granted but they have also taken liberty for licence.
Trouble in the North
We cannot be expected to tolerate or accept that sort ofirreverant and unintelligent rubbishsimplybecause we still happen to believe in ''one Nigeria'' and we will not sacrifice our rights or prostitute our principles on the altar of that ''one Nigeria''. Whether Nigeria is one or not, what is ours is ours and no-one should test our resolve or make any mistake about that.
''One Nigeria'' yes, but no-one should spit in our faces or covet our land, our treasure, our success, our history, our virtues, our being and our heritage and attempt to claim those for themselves simply because we took them in on a rainy day.
It is that same attitude of ''we own everything'', ''we must have everything'' and ''we must control everything'' that the Igbo settlers manifested in the northern region in the late 50s and early and mid-60s that got them into so much trouble up there with the Hausa-Fulani and that eventually led to the pogrom in which almost one hundred thousand of them were killed in just a few days.
Again it is that same attitude that they manifested in Lagos and the Western Region in the late'30s and the early and mid-40s that alienated the Yoruba from them, that led to the establishment of the Action Group in April, 1951 and that resulted in the narrow defeat of Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe in the Western Regional elections of December, 1951. As a matter of fact, they were the ones that FIRST introduced tribalism into southern politics in 1945 with the unsavory comments of Mr. Charles Dadi Onyeama who was a member of the Central Legislative Council representing Enugu and who said at the Igbo State Union address that ''the domination of Nigeria and Africa by the Igbo is only a matter of time''.
This comment made in that explosive and historic speech did more damage to southern Nigerian unity than any other in the entire history of our country and everything changed from that moment. To make matters worse, in July 1948,Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe made his own openly tribal and incendiary speech, again at the Igbo State Union, in which he spoke about the ''god of the Igbo'' eventually giving them the leadership of Nigeria and Africa.
These careless and provocative words cost him dearly and put a nail in the coffin of the NCNC in the Western Region. This was despite the fact that that same NCNC, which was easily the largest and most powerful political party in Nigeria at the time, had been founded and established by a great and illustrious son of the Yoruba by the name of Mr. Herbert Macaulay.
Macaulay, like most of the Yoruba in his day, saw no tribe and he happily handed the leadership of the party over to Azikiwe, an Igbo man, in 1945 when he was on his dying bed. How much more can the Yoruba do than that when it comes to being blind to tribe? Can there be any greater evidence of our total lack of racial prejudice and tribal sentiments than that? If the NCNC had been founded and established by an Igbo man, would he have handed the whole thing over to a Yoruba on his death bed? I doubt it very much.
Not mere traders
Again when northern military officers mutineed,effected their ''revenge coup'' and went to kill the Igbo military Head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi, on July 29, 1966 in the old Western Region, his host, the Yoruba, Col. Fajuyi (who was military Governor of the Western Region at the time), insisted that they would have to kill him first before taking Aguiyi-Ironsi's life and the northern officers(led by Major T.Y. Danjuma as he then was)promptly obliged him by slaughtering him before killing Aguiyi-Ironsi. How many Igbos know about that and how many times in our history have theymade such sacrifices for the Yoruba? Would Aguiyi-Ironsi,or any other Igbo officer,have stood for Fajuyi,or any other Yoruba officer, and sacrificed his life for him in the same way that Fajuyi did had the roles been reversed?
I doubt it very much. Yet instead of being grateful, the Igbo continuously run us down, blame us for all their woes, envy our educational advantages and resent us deeply for our ability to excel in the professions and commerce. Unlike them, we are not mere traders but we were (and still are) major industrialists and investors and when it comes to the professions, we were producing lawyers, doctors, accountants and university graduate sat least three generations before they ever did.
That is the bitter truth and they have been trying to catch up with us ever since.For example, the first Yoruba lawyer Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the English Bar in 1879 whilst the first Igbo lawyer, Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar in 1937. Again the first Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in 1875 from the University of Edinburgh whilst the first Igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish University in 1935.
Despite all these and all that they have been through over the years and despite their terrible experiences in the civil war, we are witnessing that same attitude of ''we must control all'', ''we must own all''and ''we must have all'' rearing its ugly head again today when it comes to their attitude to the issue of the deportation from Lagos State and when you consider the comments of the Orji Kalus of this world about the Igbo supposedly''owning Lagos'' with the Yoruba and supposedly''generating 55 per cent of the state's revenue''. It is most insulting.
And I must say that it is wrong and unfair for anyone to lay the blame for the perennial suspicion and underlying tensions that lie between the two nationalities on the Yoruba because there is simply no evidence to substantiate such an allegation. We are not the problem, they are.
Pray,tell me, in the whole of Nigeria, who treated the Igbo better than the Yoruba after the civil war and who gave them somewhere to run to where they could regain all their ''abandoned property''and feel at home again? Who encouraged them to return to Lagos and the west and who saved the jobs that they held before the civil war for them to come back to when the war ended? No other tribe or nationality did all that for them in the country- only the Yoruba did so.
And the people of the old Mid-West and the Eastern minorities(who make up the zone that is collectively known as the ''South-south' today)have always viewed them with suspicion, have always feared them and have always resented them deeply.
From the foregoing,any objective observer can tell that we the Yoruba have always played our part when it comes to accommodating others. This is particularly so when it comes to the Igbo who we have always had a soft spot for and who we have always regarded as brothers and sisters. It is time that those ''others'' also play their part by acquiring a little more humility, by knowing and accepting their place in the scheme of things and by desisting from giving the impression that they own our territory or that they made us what we are.
Now let us look at a few historical facts and one or two more Igbo ''firsts' that many may not be familiar with to buttress the point.The Igbo people were the FIRST to carry out a failed coup on the night of Jan 15,1966 under the leadership of Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Major Chukuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Major Christian Anuforo, Capt. Ben Gbulie, Major Timothy Onwatuegwu, Major Donatus Okafor, Capt. Ude, Capt. Emmanuel Nwobosi, Captain Udeaja, Lt. Okafor, Lt. Okocha, Lt. Anyafulu, Lt. Okaka, Lt. Ezedigbo, Lt. Amunchenwa, Lt. Nwokedi, 2nd Lt. J.C. Ojukwu, 2nd Lt. Ngwuluka, 2nd Lt. Ejiofor, 2nd Lt. Egbikor, 2nd Lt. Igweze, 2nd Lt. Onyefuru, 2nd Lt. Nwokocha, 2nd Lt. Azubuogu and 2nd Lt. Nweke in which they drew FIRST blood and openly slaughtered and butchered leading politicians and army officers from EVERY single zone in the country except their own.
I should also mention that even though this was clearly an Igbo coup, there was one Yoruba officer who was amongst the ringleaders by the name of Major Adewale Ademoyega.It was a very bloody night indeed. Amongst those killed were the Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, the Premier of the Western Region, Chief S.L. Akintola, the Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Federal Minister of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, Brigadier Zakari Maimalari, Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun, Colonel Ralph Shodeinde, Lt . Colonel James Yakubu Pam, Lt. Colonel Abogo Largema and numerous others. They did not just kill these revered and respected leaders but in some cases they mocked,tortured and maimed them before doing so, took pictures of their dead and mutilated bodies and killed their wives and children as well.
For weeks after these horrific acts were carried out,the Igbo people rejoiced and celebrated them in the streets and markets of the North, openly displaying pictures and posters of the Sardauna's mutilated body with Nzeogwu's boot on his neck, loudly playing a famous and deeply offensive anti-northern song in which northerners were compared to goats and listening to it on their radios, jubilation that they had brought an end to what they described as ''northern rule and Islamic domination'' and openly boasting that they themselves would now ''rule Nigeria forever''.Though the first coup failed, the matter did not end there.
At gun point
The very next day after the Jan.15 mutiny and butchery had failed and did not result in Ifeajuna taking power in Lagos,The Igbo people set their ''Plan B'' in motion and they were the FIRST to carry out a successful coup in Nigeria just one day later on Jan. 17 1966.
This was when the Igbo Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi(who was Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Army and who had inexplicably and suspiciously not been murdered by the young Igbo officers in their violent mutiny and killing spree the night before),in collusion with the Igbo Acting President Nwafor Orizu and the entire Igbo political leadership of that day,invited the remnants of Sir Tafawa Balewa's cabinet to a closed-door meeting,threatened their lives and took power from them at the point of gun.
Aguiyi-Ironsi did not just ask them to give him power but he took it from them by force by telling them that he could not guarantee their safety if they refused to do so. Meanwhile Orizu point blank refused to do his duty as Acting President and swear in Zana Bukar Dipcharimma as the Acting Prime Minster when the members of the cabinet and the British Ambassador (who was also at the meeting) implored him to do so since by that time there was a power vacuum because the Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, had gone missing and had probably been murdered.
It was in these very suspicious circumstances and as a consequence of this murky and deep-seated Igbo conspiracy that General Aguiyi-Ironsi came to power. Amongst those that were present at that famous ''meeting'' that are still alive today are Alhaji Maitama Sule, Chief Richard Akinjide and President Shehu Shagari who were all Ministers in Balewa's cabinet. Those that doubt the veracity of my account of this meeting would do well to ask any of them exactly what transpired during that encounter.
Yet the seeming success of the conspiracy was short-lived. Only six months later, on July 29 1966, General Aguiyi-Ironsi and no less than 300 Igbo army officers reaped the consequences of their actions and plot when they were all slaughtered in just one night during the northern officers revenge coup which was led by Lt. Colonel Murtala Mohammed, Major Abba Kyari, Captain Martins Adamu, Major T.Y. Danjuma, Major Musa Usman, Captain Joseph Garba, Captain Shittu Alao, Captain Baba Usman, Captain Gibson S.Jalo and Captain Shehu Musa Yar'Adua as they then were.
Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon was put in power by this group after that and a few weeks later between September 29th 1966 and the middle of October of that same year, approximately 50,000 Igbo civilians were attacked and slaughtered in a series of horrendous pogroms in the north by violent northern mobs as a reprisal for the killing of the northern leaders, including Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto, by Major Nzeogwu, Major Ifejuna and other junior Igbo officers on the night of Jan. 15, 1966.
Please note that despite the fact that a number of Yoruba leaders were killed on that night as well, no Igbo civilians were massacred anywhere in the west by mobs in reprisal killings throughout that period.
The Igbos understandably left the North in droves after those terrible pogroms and fled back to the East from whence they came. And perhaps that would have been the end of the story but for the fact that they also declared secession and sought to dismember Nigeria.
They then made their biggest mistake of all by provoking a full scale military conflict with Nigeria when they launched a vicious and unprovoked attack against the rest of the South by conscripting the eastern minorities , overwhelming the Mid-West and attacking Yoruba land in an attempt to capture and enslave it.
Thankfully they were stopped in their tracks by the gallant efforts and courageous fighting skills of Colonel Benjamin Adekunle's Third Marine Commando (which was primarily a Yoruba force) and who repulsed them,stopped them from entering the Western Region,drove them out of the Mid-West, forced them back into the East, defeated them in battle after battle and eventually brought them down to their knees and forced them to surrender to the Federal forces in Enugu in 1969.
The Igbo and their Biafra fought Nigeriaand killed Nigerians for three hard and long years in that brutal civil war in which over one million courageous, loyal and faithful sons and daughters of the Federal Republic lost their lives at the war front trying to stop the Biafrans from seceding from the federation, from taking our land.
*Fani-Kayode is a former aviation minister
WHAT IS THIS BITTER TRUTH ABOUT IGBOS?
By Christopher Chibueze Onyekuru - Barcelona, Spain
The harangues lashed against the Igbos by Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode can easily warn us that in Nigeria, the spirit of mutual co-existence among tribes is yet far-fetched. Tribalism still lingers deeply in the country, and when we consider the fact that a former minister, a well-placed government man, could make attacks on a whole tribe, not mincing words, and using the pretext of statements made more than forty years ago, probably when he yet knew nothing about governance, it tells us that Nigeria may not be going anywhere nearer to positivity. Why? Because there are still a tiny fragment of humans like Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode who still have the 1960s mentally towards Nigeria.
The Youruba people are a good tribe, like their Igbo counterpart. I personally have many of them as friends, and I believe that the entire Yoruba people, especially the middle and lower classes, will not be in support of the level of enmity Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode is trying to instigate for his own ambitious reasons. Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode is going back to the 1960s, but he did not understand that many Nigerians of different tribes are no longer interested in this kind of deceit. Mr. Kayode's careful option to distinguish the Yoruba and Igbo tribes as 'nationalities' speaks volumes. It means that he never had and will never have faith in the future of a united Nigeria. The incapability of those who we choose to serve and call them leaders is what is driving the black Africa down.
I wish to advise Mr. Kayode not to be afraid. Nobody is taking Lagos away from the Yorubas, if that was what caused his fear of writing such obnoxious article. I will still want him to come up to the modern age. Igbo people who were born in Lagos have the right to be addressed as Lagosians. Nobody can take that away from them. In the same sense, any Yoruba man born in Anambra state has every right to be called Anambrarian. And if any Igbo man wakes up tomorrow and buys a house in any part of Lagos, within the government laws, nobody has the right to revoke it from him. Lagos is strategically located in Nigeria with its harbors which make business thrive, and that is why people of every other tribe other than the Yorubas converge here. The reigning and abundance of a particular natural resource can drive a people to a particular area at a time. I have seen many Yorubas in River State and Warri fighting for their livelihoods because of the existence of petroleum. If any of the Igbo states of Nigeria happens to discover a natural resource on demand by the Yoruba people tomorrow, we will witness the drive towards Igbo land. I don't think that Igbos would have any cause to eject any Yoruba man if this happens.
It is good a thing that Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode has said it himself that Igbos are traders. If he thought that his words were victimizing, the reverse is the case. Igbos acknowledge that we are traders and we accept it. That is our nature and we have seen the extent of positivity that has brought us. But it was good a thing too that Mr. Kayode also accepted the fact that Igbos have produced prominent medical professionals and lawyers. If the reverse had been the case, I wonder the kind of words this man would have used to describe the inability-towards-education of the Igbos. The kind of brag over education that Mr. Kayode put in black and white is typically the type you can hear from a five year old child who understands nothing about life. I will like to educate Mr. Kayode that the laws of Geography and development do not lie. In the right sense, Igbos and Yorubas are not supposed to be competing in education. Development has always begun first from the areas in coastal zones.
This is where the people who live there were able to encounter foreigners and imitate other cultures that helped them develop rapidly. The whites landed in the western Nigeria first, am I right? So, at the pace Igbos moved towards acquisition of education, we did well, right? You see, there is a law of geography which states that population growth decreases from the tropical rainforest zone to the semi arid zones. It is only in Nigeria that this law has not held.
Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode seems to be a very good history student. But the problem is that he also seems like a man who remembers history from one perspective.
He spoke so much about the turmoil of the past in Nigeria but I want him to remember that when the civil war broke out, Chief Awolowo was still in jail in Calabar. Calabar was part of Biafra, wasn't it? And Ojukwu was the Biafran head, right? So, it means that Ojukwu released Awo from jail and allowed him to go back to his people in the west. Always remember this favor, Mr. Kayode.
It is of no importance to keep writing further, noting that Mr. Kayode could be an ambitious man who may be trying to broaden the scope of a little conflict so as to fulfill his wants of becoming somebody big among his people. Let me tell him once again that Igbos are very vibrant people whom other tribes accept because of their industriousness and good business skills. Any one person out for diatribes against Igbos hardly succeeds. It is good to remind Mr. Kayode that fame is not easily achieved through instigation of troubles. The better way is through good governance. Chief Awolowo is a legend in Yoruba land. He was an intelligent man who achieved the legendry among his people by governing them well. Mr. Kayode can't ever attain such height by cutting corners. He has to jettison tribalism and enmity against the Igbos so as to achieve his leadership goals. This is my sincere advice to him. In the first instance, if Nigeria were a nation headed for positive development, a man who made such horrendous statements against a tribe is not supposed to be allowed to smell a position in the federal government again until he apologizes to the people he offended.
And to my fellow Igbos in Lagos, I will advise you to open your eyes well. There is one man called Femi Fani-Kayode in Lagos. His hatred against Igbos may be brewing. Remember, Igbos, that you still have a whole lot of spaces in the East for investments.
The bitter truth about Femi Fani-Kayode
By Obi Nwakanma
I thought for a minute: but they said the guy went to Cambridge! Then again, take a scallywag to Cambridge, he merely becomes a Cambridge-trained scallywag. There were many things Kings College Lagos and Cambridge University could have taught, and might have failed to teach Mr. Fani-kayode.
One of such things is felicity with truth. He does write about "bitter truths" and about the "Igbo" and his submissions were in fact more bitter than true about the Igbo. For one, Femi Fani-Kayode who claims to be "half-Lagosian" has not quite explained what that "half" means after the genomic mathematics that also locates and divides the Fani-Kayodes of Ife in another instance into "part Fulani" in the general scheme of things in Nigeria. I will not dwell on Fani-Kayode's identity politics. I'm yet to understand it.
It will require one to be quite high on something to tease it all out, and so I leave that part to Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode. But I suspect that in situating himself to be "half-Lagosian" he means that part of his ancestry may be found among the "owners" of Lagos, that is, the indigenous settlers of Lagos.
For purposes of context, let me summarize Femi Fani-Kayode's argument rendered in two parts, starting with the first titled "Lagos, the Igbo and the Servants of Truth": to him the Igbo have basically no claim on Lagos and have made hardly a contribution to its development.
According to Fani-Kayode"The Igbo had little to do with the development of Lagos between 1890 till today and that is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer Town, Alaba and buying up a few market stalls in Isale Eko where is their input? Meanwhile the Yoruba and Lagos were very gracious to them and not only allowed them to return after the civil war to claim their properties and jobs but we welcomed them with open arms and allowed them to flourish in our land. This is something that they have never done for our people in the east.
Now some of them have the effontry (sic) to call our land and the land of our forefathers (I am half Lagosian and was brought up in Lagos) "no-man's land" and others have the nerve to assert that up to 50 per cent of the development in Lagos came as a consequence of the input of the Igbo. This is utter rubbish."
These are the very words of Femi, hot under his collars because Igbo Lagosians are staking their own claims to a part of the Nigerian commonwealth to which they have made enormous contributions both in material and in blood.
Fani-Kayode may deny it, but Lagos is nothing if not the result of an agglomeration of forces; a diversity of people from across the world and across the modern nation gathering at the epicenter and the margins of the metropolis in what Homi Bhabha calls "dissemination."
But Mr. Fani-Kayode is still hung up on sterile nativism of the sort that makes it impossible for him to think clearly or rationally; he chooses to levitate on the illusory baloney that inspires him to declare Lagos to be the "patrimony of the Yoruba." No. Lagos is the patrimony of every Nigerian who steps in it.
Lagos belongs as much to the ethnic Igbo as to the Yoruba, Ijaw, Hausa, Fulani, Efik, Idoma, Urhobo, Itshekiri, Edo, and so on who live in it, pay tax, identify with it, and settles in it. That compact was made the moment Nigeria became a single nation, and a successor power to the old principalities who were subdued and who ceded their sovereignty for the new commonwealth of Nigeria.
The Igbo did not beg to be Nigerians. First they fought for its freedom. When the Nigerian kitchen became too hot, they chose to leave. But a war was levied on the Igbo that forced them back to Nigeria. That war was fought to preserve "One Nigeria" even if the Igbo had had enough of "one Nigeria." That war ended in 1970. The Igbo returned, and their return to Lagos and other parts of Nigeria was neither an act of charity nor kindness.
It was pragmatic. The Igbo had the skill and the industry, and Lagos was the seat of the Federal government of Nigeria and its major port. The Igbo have lived in Lagos since the 15th century when the Aro and other Igbo first settled in good number in a place we now call "Oyingbo" in the era of Benin and the Portuguese trade.
Igbo have been in Lagos, in other words, long before the first Fani-Kayode knew the road to Ilesha. So, when Femi Fani-Kayode writes that the Yoruba were "kind" to the Igbo because, in his words, "we allowed them to return to Lagos" after the civil war, he is not being a servant of truth. In any case, about kindness, he might wish to talk to the likes of Eze Okpoko N'Oba, whose property in Lagos was appropriated to this day by a prominent Yoruba as "abandoned property" after the war.
I do not wish to insult the intelligence and regard of the many honorable Yoruba people I know who do not buy into Mr. Fani-Kayode's views, and so I will keep this simple: nobody, even of average intelligence, can deny the impact and contribution of the Igbo in the political, cultural, and economic development of Lagos as a great Nigerian city; the greatest of them in fact, in the modern era.
The arrival of Azikiwe to Lagos in 1937 from Accra after his studies in the United States, stimulated the political and cultural environment of Lagos as no other has before or after him. Zik literally resurrected the wizard of Kirsten hall from political death. Zik represented Lagos in the western house. The NCNC was the power in Lagos, and not the Action Group. The Igbo were prominent in the governance of Lagos in the Lagos City Hall.
The institutional development of Lagos - the railways, the ports and ship yards; the education and research facilities; the Banking and Commodities Exchange, the development of towns like Yaba, Surulere, Ebutta-Metta, Festac Town, Victoria Island, and now Increasing the Ajah-Lekki axis, and of course, the ghettoes along the Orile-Badagry axis, have profound Igbo imprimatur.
The circulation of the image of Lagos is to date best reflected in the cosmopolitan Igbo imagination of one of the greatest African writers of the 20th century, Cyprian Ekwensi, a thorough Lagosian if there was any. Igbo have built industries in Lagos and have been drivers of commerce and exchange.
Side by side with their Yoruba, Efik, Itshekiri, Urhobo, etc. neighbors, they have continued to negotiate the complex evolution of this city. The development had not much to do with the Western government; even then, Mr. Fani Kayode often forgets that the Igbo were part of the Western Region when it extended, until 1963, to the bridgehead at Asaba. Lagos is not the patrimony of the Yoruba.
If any should make such a vicarious claim, it might be the Oba of Benin, to whom Lagos paid tributes up until its annexation and colonization in 1861. Fani Kayode should read more and be driven less by sophomoric enthusiasm and braggadocio.
Fani-Kayode, tribalism's active volcano
By Kenneth Ezea
Ezea, a Journalist and former Lagosian, writes from Abuja.
"It would appear that the God of Africa has created the Ibo nation to lead the children of Africa from the bondage of ages." Dr. Azikiwe wrote about leading the children of Africa from the bondage of the ages using the same language and letters he used to celebrate his acquittal from treasonable felony charges in Accra, the Gold Coast in 1937 telling the white men that, "I am an African spirit of ideas...'.
But tribal jingoists of the ilk of Femi Fani-Kayode twisted it to refer to Igbo threat to dominate Nigeria. If Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela, two foremost Africans, would confess gaining inspiration from Azikiwe, who then is Femi Fani-Kayode to claim otherwise?
It was Wayne W. Dyer who said that: "the only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness and frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty of something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy".
I had thought that after the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election and the crisis following it, the Yoruba would forge amity and cooperation with their Southern brothers. But what do we see? Perhaps, because General Olusegun Obasanjo has ruled Nigeria for eight years, all the news coming from there are stories of Yoruba gallantry and valour at Biafran towns and villages. The only detail we have yet to hear is how the Black Scorpion or Obasanjo killed Igbo Generals and roasted their flesh for dinner.
Perhaps, the renewed attacks and civil war reminiscences are to shore up their presumptuous idea that they and the Hausa-Fulani are now co-equal overlords of Nigeria and the rest of us inferiors.
Let me remind Femi Fani-Kayode that "success without honour is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good", says Joe Paterno just as Mary H. Waldrip adds that , "when someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high."
Fani-Kayode revels in the defeat and humiliation of Ndigbo during the civil war. But the Yoruba have suffered even more humiliation in Nigeria than Ndigbo who he likes to ridicule. He should recall that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the foremost Yoruba politician was tried, convicted and imprisoned. Recall that General Olusegun Obasanjo, even as then former military Head of State, was convicted, imprisoned and put on death row. Recall that Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election was not only denied the right to rule, he was imprisoned and killed. Also, Lt-General Oladipo Diya as Vice-President/Chief of General Staff was arrested and sentenced to death along with Major-Generals Tajudeen Olanrewaju and Adulkarim Adisa. Chief Abraham Adesanya, the Afenifere leader was shot at but escaped unhurt while Chief Bola Ige, his Deputy and then Minister of Justice, was killed.
What more humiliation can the Yoruba face in Nigeria? And yet Fani-Kayode brands Ndigbo as enemy of the Yoruba just because someone has said rightly that Lagos had been designated a Federal capital territory since 1953. In all these acts of shameful mistreatment of Yoruba leaders, were Ndigbo ever remotely connected?
Even if we exaggerate the role of Chief Arthur Nzeribe, leader of the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) and downplay that of Mr. Femi Davies, ABN's Secretary, the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election couldn't have been caused by Ndigbo.
Or would Fani-Kayode now claim that Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, the leader of the first coup plot, met with and breathed ambition into OBJ, Diya, Olanrewaju and Adisa not forgetting Professor Odekunle, and other co-travellers in their dreams?
Political Killings 1966 and After:Femi Fani-Kayode painted a grim picture of the assassination of the Sarduana of Sokoto along with other top ranking military officers and politicians. I cannot tell what the motive of the coup plotters was and do not support the killings more so the pogroms in which he boasts that Igbos were killed like flies within a few days. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can call to memory other prominent Nigerian leaders and military officers who have died in coup killings and for political reasons without Ndigbo being involved with their circumstances. There have been nine other coups d'etat since January 15, 1966 in which the Northerners have killed far more northern officers than ever contemplated by the five majors.
Examples include: General Murtala Mohammed, General Iliya Bisalla and Police Commissioner JD Gomwalk and 31 mainly Middle Belt Officers, Gen. Audu Bako, General Mamman Jiya Vatsa and 13 Military Officers, Col. UK Bello, Major Gideon Orkar and 68 other officers killed in July and September 1990, Chief MKO Abiola and his wife Kudirat, Maj-General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, Chief Edward Kobani and three Ogoni Chiefs, Playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9, Chief Bola Ige, Engr Funsho Williams and lately one of the much trumpeted victors of Ndigbo, General Muhammadu Shuwa.
All these political leaders and military officers have died in connection with the politics of Nigeria. They did not die in furtherance of any Igbo agenda to dominate Nigeria and we have not had Fani-Kayode inciting their ethnic communities to go for revenge. If Ken Saro-Wiwa had known the brutal fate that awaited him in an unjust and inequitable Nigeria, I am sure he would not have hated Igbos and sabotaged the Biafran struggle the way he did.
It rankles how the Yoruba will seek to denigrate, covet and suppress Ndigbo to massage their individual and ethnic pride. General Olusegun Obasanjo, after receiving the mandate to rule Nigeria as elected president, tragically relapsed to coveting the inferior office of Senate President zoned to Ndigbo. With arrogance and shoulder padding, he heckled and harassed each Igbo occupant of the office until we had a turnover of five senate presidents in five years.
Even when the majority legislators of the Peoples Democratic Party resisted Obasanjo and his arm-twisting of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Obasanjo assembled the Yoruba Alliance for Democracy (AD) members of the Senate and the All Peoples Party (APP) Senators to team up with some PDP renegades and impeached Okadigbo without reckoning with the law of karma.
Fani-Kayode should warn Fashola and his co-travellers to desist from toying with Ndigbo. We are not deceived by the claim that he appointed Mr. Ben Akabueze and Joe Igbokwe as commissioners. Afterall, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide is the de facto deputy governor of FCT Abuja just as Mr. Segun Awolowo Jr. and other Yoruba have served as commissioners (mandate secretaries) in FCT. I learned Awolowo Jr. was appointed for the Yoruba to reflect and repent Chief Obafemi Awolowo's strident opposition to the establishment of the FCT, Abuja. Mr. Festus Adedayo from Oyo state ran Enugu state with Governor Chimaroke Nnamani.
Ndigbo is not about money as Fani-Kayode claims. While he is facing trial over missing funds in the Aviation Ministry he headed, Stella Oduah, an iconic Igbo woman, has changed the face of Aviation in Nigeria like no other before her. Ndigbo value love, hospitality, friendship and co-habitation. Since the day we buried Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya in Ikorodu, there hasn't been a commanding funeral spectacle like it in the South West till date. Ndigbo demand justice, fairness, dignity and full respect because they are citizens and nation builders. We are no parasites.
Deportation: Fashola got it wrong
Igbo and the governance of Lagos
By Kayode Samuel
a former columnist with Vanguard
Three fashionable fallacies lie at the root of prevailing Igbo outlook to Lagos, the former federal capital. The first is that Lagos is a no-man's land with no indigenous population.
The second is that Federal Government money was used to build Lagos into the huge metropolis that it has now become. This argument goes further to claim that since the "federal money" allegedly belonged to all Nigerians, the political control of Lagos should, willy-nilly, be open to just about anyone and everyone who claims to be a Nigerian.
The third fallacy is that Lagos is a hunting ground, a jungle city where all being "joiners", the predatory instinct must rule. By this pernicious thesis, Lagos is a place in which regardless of one's roots - or the lack of it - one can seize the trophy. It is an el-Dorado where anything goes and in which everything, including political authority, is up for grabs since the place does not belong to anyone anyway!
These are erroneous claims, now being given new life in the current debate on Igbo participation and representation in the politics and governance of Lagos. Granted, the continued perpetration of these fallacies is not restricted to Igbo elements. Others, including some Yoruba (especially those that Lagosians refer to as ara oke- upland people), are equally guilty of the first if not all of these fallacies.
But the current debate marks the first time that an institutional claim to the governance of Lagos would be made by a non-Yoruba group. The commentators, Joe Igbokwe and Uchenna Nwankwo, among others, have done well in marshalling the arguments from the Igbo perspective. Spokesmen of Eko Pioneers, a group of Lagosians, have answered back from the other side. It is a debate that should be encouraged rather than stifled.
The fallacies are, of course, easily dismissed. The Yoruba identity of Lagos is not in doubt, regardless of its ethnically mixed composition. If the "no-man's-land" claim were to be true, then Lagos must be the only metropolis anywhere in the world without an indigenous population.
Concerning the use of "federal money" to develop Lagos, four points need to be made. First, Lagos was a thriving metropolis even before the British created Nigeria, its prosperity being due more to its strategic location rather than its administrative designation.
Second, it is doubtful that the people of Lagos were consulted before their city was made the Nigerian capital, or that they were forewarned that being conferred with such a status would mean that they would lose their city to stranger elements.
Third, rather than invoke the "federal money" argument to dilute a people's right to control their land, the rest of Nigeria, and, in particular, the Igbo, should be grateful to the people of Lagos for availing them of a conducive environment in which lives and property are relatively safe and in which the throats of settlers are not routinely slashed by sponsored zealots as happens elsewhere in Nigeria.
Fourth, and perhaps most tellingly, only a fraction of what is now Lagos State was ever under the central government. Strictly speaking, only four of the present twenty local government areas in Lagos State - Lagos Island, Eti Osa, Lagos Mainland and Surulere - were in the then Colony of Lagos.
The rest belonged, first to the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and subsequently to the Western Region, before the state creation exercise of 1967. Lagos was also not the only city on which federal money was spent. (Calabar was once the capital and so should also qualify as a recipient of "federal money".)
As for Lagos being a hunting ground, the self-defeating logic of this argument is clearly brought home to all of us - aborigine and settler alike - by the frightening crime statistics in the state.
Perhaps before I go further it is appropriate that I state my qualifications for pronouncing on this matter, aside of course from my rights as a citizen of Nigeria. From my father's side, I am a Yoruba of Awori descent with strong Egba links. My mother however happens to be Igbo from Owerri in Imo State.
Based on these affiliations, I can claim a fair measure of familiarity with the issues in the current debate on both sides. I understand the feelings of Lagosians on this matter. I am also fully apprised of the passions and pressures that drive Igbo into internal economic exile and which impel their push for a place in Lagos.
While I empathize with the Igbo condition, I share the interest of all trueborn Yoruba people in maintaining and possibly deepening the Yoruba character of Lagos. And no one should have to feel apologetic about that.
The Igbo, perhaps more than any other Nigerian group, are in a vantage position to appreciate a people's attachment to their soil and the unbreakable linkage between a people and their land and language.
A critical aspect of that linkage is the exercise of cultural and political authority over a land space to which one has aboriginal claim. More than any other group in Nigeria, save perhaps the Fulani Bororo, the Igbo move around the country a lot for considerations of geography and economics.
Unlike the Fulani, however, the Igbo often become sedentary in large clusters in the lands they move into, including Lagos. This naturally raises an interest in participation in the public affairs of their places of domicile. Yet, a legitimate interest in participation cannot translate into a contest for control, which is the way the current claims are being canvassed and construed.
Advocates of the Igbo claim to Lagos often refer to the putatively halcyon era of pan-Nigerianism spanning the 1930s to the 1950s. It was a time, we are told, when all Nigerians lived as one and when it did appear that all ascriptive barriers had dissolved in the ferment of nationalist politics. This period has become a favourite reference point for people with all kinds of agenda. But was the reality not indeed less glamorous? There was, no doubt, a fortuitous convergence in those times. An emergent commercial and educated elite needed to come together in the nationalist struggle to send the British away and so the city of Lagos, which was the hub of that struggle, seemed to have become a melting pot overnight.
Yet, the hometown unions remained strong and affectations to unity were soon exposed as only skin-deep as the struggle to ensure the departure of the British transitioned into the struggle over who would succeed the departing oligarchy. This is the reality that we continue to live with to date. And it would be asking a lot to expect that Lagos should offer itself as the guinea-pig for experimenting with the possibility of a new pan-Nigerian vision. Especially since there is as yet nothing on ground to suggest or guarantee that such a gesture would be reciprocated.
As things now stand, the Igbo in Lagos must decide what they really want from the state: participation, or representation, or control. Currently, their spokespersons seem to be using the three terms interchangeably, raising the spectre of a hostile take-over. This approach is bound to be resisted by a people barely recovering from the debacle of the June 12 annulment and the devastations of the Abacha persecution in which they saw the Igbo - with some admirable exceptions - as having played a less than salutary role.
The attitude and outlook of a majority of Igbo political elite and indeed common people to the June 12 crisis was mercenary if not malevolent. Many Igbo seemed to have approached the crisis with a revanchist agenda borne of deep-seated animosity and ill-will. How so?
It is a well-known fact that some Igbo still blame the Yoruba for having "pushed" the Eastern Region into the civil war only to back out at the last minute. This line of argument further raised and reinforced the unfounded stereotype of Yoruba people as unreliable. It has been peddled for so long that many have come to believe it. As Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's Minister of Propaganda once famously said, tell a lie persistently over a long time and people start to believe it to be the truth. Anyway, hostile interests within and outside Nigeria that have reason to fear the rise of a southern solidarity of the type that was emerging with the UPGA party of the 1960s have also invested strenuously in promoting and perpetuating this lie.
Yet, without seeking to diminish the harrowing and often heroic sacrifice that the war entailed on the Biafran side, the truth is that the Nigerian Civil War was largely the consequence of a North and East alliance of brinkmanship whose cardinal objective and principle was the isolation of the West. It is said that the falling out of friends is often the most vicious. So, Igbo political elite are in no position to seek to build a cult of victimhood around themselves or to sermonize about the politics of bad faith that led to the war.
Beginning with the NCNC-NPC coalition, through the Action Group crisis, to the declaration of a state of emergency in Western Nigeria, the creation of the Mid-West Region, all through to the treasonable felony trial, many Igbo political leaders of the time seemed to have deliberately lent a hand or at least acquiesced in stoking the northern brazenness that eventually resulted in the pogroms and the war. Nor should it be forgotten the games that were played with the status of Lagos, with the establishment of a Federal Ministry of Lagos Affairs under northern headship but with copious NCNC concurrence.
But not to digress. With the defeat of Biafra, many Igbo in secret (and sometimes not too secretly) wished that the Yoruba too should receive a similar treatment someday soon. That day seemed to have arrived with the June 12 annulment and the crisis it unleashed. For some, the June 12 crisis appeared to have presented the Igbo with a perfect opportunity to get back at the Yoruba and permanently cut them down to size.
In executing their now famous exodus from Lagos at the time, many Igbo had said that they feared (hoped?) that another war was afoot, this time with Yorubaland as the theatre. Igbo political elite seemed to have offered themselves all too eagerly to bringing about such a confrontation. The role played by the likes of Sam Ikoku, Uche Chukwumerije, Walter Ofonagoro and Clement Akpamgbo, to mention a few, in adding fuel to the fires of the crisis would for a long time be remembered in the annals of infamy.
No doubt, the annulment and the ensuing crisis sorely tested the political maturity of Yoruba people and their elite. Fortunately, the Yoruba refused to bite the bait and managed to come out of the annulment crisis without a shooting war. There were, of course, several battles and notable casualties along the way. But, in the end, there was no war of the scale that had been feared - or hoped! How this was accomplished remains a tribute to the leaders of the pro-democracy struggle, a struggle that is yet to come to an end and of which Lagos remains the epicenter.
Igbo in governance
Feelings still run deep and memories of what many saw as malevolent undercutting could remain for long. It is partly in this context that many Lagosians situate current calls for expanded Igbo presence in the governance of Lagos. Many will shudder to contemplate the fate of the June 12 struggle if during that struggle political power in any part of the South-West had been in the hands of people hostile to Yoruba interests. What extent of damage would Chukwumerije have wrought if he had just one kinsman as an ally sitting in a sensitive local government chairmanship or governor's office in the South-West in those terrible days?
Still, the work of building a united Nigeria must continue as we cannot afford to dwell for too long on past injuries and grievances. The Igbo input into this great work can be both positive and progressive, but not necessarily involving their ruling Lagos. Indeed, I think they have their work cut out for them. My view is that the Igbo are barking up the wrong tree in this whole matter over who rules Lagos. What do I mean by this?
The Igbo are such a leading and (hopefully) enduring part of the commercial landscape of Lagos. At this point in time, what they should be doing is lending their voice and energy to advocating for a reversal of what appears like a deliberate federal abandonment of the former capital, which has made doing business in Lagos all the more difficult.
The movement of the seat of the Federal Government to Abuja was ostensibly meant to un-clutter the environment of governance and deepen our country's unity by giving everyone a sense of belonging in the nation's capital.
But the move soon fell victim to elements whose knack it is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in every good policy. The movement has been implemented as a punishment for the Yoruba and possibly as a reprisal for the central role that Lagos played as the seat of the pro-democracy opposition. Against this background, the attitude of many Lagosians to the Igbo quest for control is that they should commence it in Abuja and its area councils. After all, they say, Abuja is the only Federal Capital Territory that we have.
But speaking seriously, Igbo claims to an expanded role in the governance of Lagos cannot be pursued in an atmosphere of intentional federal abandonment of Lagos. Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State has been making a case for renewed federal investment in Lagos, given the peculiar heavy demands on the state and its role as home to all. Rather than fantasizing about taking over the Alausa seat of government or occupying commissionership positions, the Igbo in Lagos should lend their weight to the push for special federal recognition for the needs of Lagos, to further enable the state continue to play its role as a safe, liberal and prosperous home for all.
'Deportation' by Lagos State Govt: No place like home at the end?
By Emmanuel Edukugho
For many Nigerians who came to Lagos with the dream of making it in life and achieving economic success at the end, this may not happen.
Hopes could be dashed, a lot of people are embittered by frustration and disappointment. The journey back home empty-handed can be difficult and unimaginable. Emeka, 17, was one of those youths not in the mould of trying to acquire even basic education but to trade and do business. Lagos therefore, seemed the ideal city to stay. He came, thinking that all that glitters is gold. But Emeka misjudged the situation.
His story is typical. He moved to Lagos in 2010 in search of greener pasture. After taking odd jobs all to no avail, he started hawking snacks and later soft drinks; dashing in between commercial buses during traffic along highways.
He lost everything at the end with nowhere to go. Emeka, from one of the Igbo-speaking South-East states, was caught wandering with some other young persons, arrested by officials of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI). They were taken to rehabilitation centres established by the Lagos State government with facilities to learn some skills and vocational trades.
Suddenly, in the early morning of Wednesday, 24, July, 2013, many of these young people of various ages already detained for nearly six months in Ikorodu, for alleged wandering and other minor offences by KAI officials were taken into buses escorted by anti-riot policemen and driven down to Onitsha. They were allegedly dumped at Upper Iweka bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State.
This action enraged many people and caused national uproar. This was not the first time that suspected miscreants, beggars, destitute, mentally-retarded have been rounded up and sent to their states of origin, sometimes, after due consultations with affected state governments.The rationale for such actions seemed to be the determination of the Lagos State government to clean up the city in the bid of creating a mega city in the likes of Rio de Janeiro, New York, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Beijing, etc.
Explaining the action taken, the Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Youths and Social Development, Dr. Enitan Badru was reported saying the action stemmed out of the effort to re-unite the affected persons with their families. Since January, 2013, about 1,708 beggars and destitutes had been expelled to their various states and countries in a bid to rid Lagos streets of beggars and the mentally-challenged.
According to Badru, "the end result is to re-unite them with their families. We are not repatriating them out of Lagos, we are re-uniting them with their families because once we rescue them, we cannot as a government hold a child under age of 18 years in custody without parental or guardian's consent."
In the last one year, 3,114 beggars, destitutes and mentally challenged have been rescued in day and night operations, while about 2,695 were taken to Rehabilitation and Training Centre, Owutu, Ikorodu, where the government has provided them with skills to live a better life.
However, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, did not see it this way. He petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, describing the action as the latest callous act in which Lagos State did not even bother to consult with Anambra State authorities before deporting 72 persons considered to be of Igbo extraction to Anambra, saying it is illegal, unconstitutional, and a blatant violation of human rights of these individuals and of the Nigerian constitution.
But responding, Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola described the controversy trailing the decision to send some people back to their towns and cities as political.
His words: "It is unfortunate that my colleague governor has made this a media issue. As I speak, I haven't received any telephone call or letter from him to complain. I don't think that is the way government works. On less important matters, he had called me before."
He added: "This is a political season and Anambra will be up for contest. And in a political season, unusual things happen. It is really important to say that our hospitality in Lagos State is legendary."
Fashola acknowledged that there is a large Igbo community in the state and they are doing their businesses peacefully. "There is too much at stake for anyone to begin to incite the Igbo community against their host state”.
He said that the relationship between the Igbo and the Lagos State government would not break because of the issue, as the government and the residents had a strong bond. The Lagos State governor said he hoped that commonsense will prevail here.
Our investigation showed that Lagos had been a "safe haven" for the Igbos in the country. They constitute the largest population apart from the Yoruba in the state with plenty of business interest and property. Most of them had been voting for the popular candidate chosen by the people of Lagos State in all the governorship elections since the advent of democracy in 1999.
Even the Igbo had been enjoying the goodwill and patronage of Lagos State government with many of them employed in teaching and other government jobs. There is an Igbo in the State Executive Council presently while a new housing project built by the government was named after Emeka Anyaoku, the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
However, this crisis of sending the Igbo to re-unite with their families, whether done in good faith or not, has raised fundamental constitutional issues as regards to indigene and settler relationship which had caused dispute in several states of the federation. For instance, the Fulani herdsmen and natives in Plateau State had led to persistent ethnic clashes and wanton killings and massive destruction of properties.
There were also the Ife/Modakeke clashes in Osun State and the Itsekiri/Urhobo and Ijaw ethnic disturbances in the recent past. All these crises had tended to disrupt the peace and unity of the country, threatening the corporate existence of our nation.
Anambra 14 deportation: Let my people go
By Eric OKEKE
-Okeke is a Brand Storyteller and Media Consultant
Things Fall Apart is the title of the bestseller by celebrated Nigerian storyteller, late Chinua Achebe, an Anambra son. If he was alive today, he would have spoken against the recent shabby treatment of his people by Lagos.
So much has been said about the Anambra 14 saga. Figures are conflicting. This is the number of Anambra indigenes rounded up in Lagos streets, branded destitute, sent home by Lagos authorities, and abandoned at Onitsha city, Anambra State, in the wee hours of the morning, uncared for and unprotected. Ndigbo are aggrieved by this action, crying discrimination against their tribe. But the aggressors are screaming they are right. Lagos infrastructure is overstretched. It cannot be a dumping ground of economic parasites. If you cannot take care of your people, the Centre of Excellence, the Megacity will send them back to you. What is excellent or mega about this action? I ask.
As an Anambra son, I am outraged by Lagos' action. Anybody whose kinsmen and women are maltreated that way in their own country will feel bad. Let's examine the action with some objectivity though it does not deserve it. Anybody or place can rid its territory of unwanted matter. But, people should be treated with care, respect and dignity.
Lagos authorities can make the city better, but at the right time in the right way. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced due process into governance in Nigeria. But our leaders are yet to imbibe it. Lagos claims it followed due process in Anambra 14 action. But the finishing was untidy. Were the destitute taken home by chartered flight, truck, luxury bus or air-conditioned shuttle buses that ply the Lagos-Eastern route? Was there any hand over? Anambra 14 action lacked human dignity. Defenders are blaming Anambra governor, Peter Obi for reporting the matter to the Presidency to gain political mileage for the forthcoming Anambra elections. A simple "I am sorry" to Ndigbo could have quenched the raging fire.
Instead, Governor Fashola of Lagos wore the toga of arrogance and griped about the Anambra governor not calling him on the matter. As Babs talked tough, his kinsmen and co-travelers in the opposition train were beating their chests for a job well done. Meanwhile, quicksilver, Mr. Fan, is fanning the embers of tribalism telling Ndigbo they can never be sons of Lagos soil no matter their quantum of investments in the city. They should go home. That's the bitter truth.
Igboman, Onyebuchi Onyegbule in his BUSINESSDAY column of August 9 described the action as dumping. That's a hard word. He spoke about issues at stake for Ndigbo in the megacity that lacks a mega heart and how to decongest Lagos. They made sense to me though it was Igbo sentiment at play. He ended by saying: 'You take their tax and drive away their destitute. That's APC doctrine.' I don't agree. Paying tax is the obligation of every working adult that should not stop any state action. And we should not drag APC into this tangle.
Other sentiments were expressed by another BUSINESSDAY columnist, Opeyemi Agbaje on August 07. He described the saga as 'relocation.' That's uncharitable. His submissions: Fashola appointed an Anambra son as Commissioner; named a housing estate in Lagos after a respected Anambra son; helped a dying Ndigbo daughter; and more. Clap for him. It is all begging the question
You cannot cover up bad action with charity. Is the Anambra man in Lagos cabinet waiting to be 'relocated?' He should resign. The other Ndigbo son serving Lagos is doing well as His Master's Voice. We hear the 'Voice of Jacob but see the Hand of Esau' at work. We wish him well.
Igbo kwenu! Let's go home now. In the North we are bombed in churches, homes, shops, and luxury buses. In the West we are deported, relocated, or ported. Ndigbo, let's go back in Exodus 2.0 to our land. It includes me who came to Lagos in 1983 to join The Guardian as Senior Reporter. Now, at 58, in pains, I should retire to my hometown Abagana, in Anambra to author books and publish a community newspaper. We are scattered all over Nigeria, oppressed, suffering and complaining while our homeland is crying for development. I am crying for my people, the master traders, the Jews of Africa, who migrate to other lands, settle there, work hard, prosper, invest, increase and multiply, but assailed regularly by their hosts.
President Jonathan is transforming Igboland; building and upgrading infrastructure there; modernizing seaports and airports; building the second Niger Bridge; dualizing roads; declared Anambra the 10the oil producing state; honoured Anambra sons, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu and Chinua Achebe at their burial. Let my people go. Lagos infrastructure is collapsing under the weight of more than 10 million people. Let Ladipo market traders in Lagos move. Let Aspamda, Alaba, Idumota, Importers, Motor Spare Parts dealers, and other Ndigbo market clusters in the north migrate home. Don't wait to be 'relocated.' If we go, Lagos traffic jams will disappear; house rents will crash, and the pressure on infrastructure will ease. One Igbo name I like a lot is Ikemefuna. It means, Let me not lose my strength; let my strength not fail me. Ndigbo, if we don't go now, we will either lose our strength, or it will fail us. Let's go now so we don't crumble. And the place to start is Lagos.
Deportation of Igbos, Fashola tenders unreserved apology.
BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI, MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO & ANOZIE EGOLE
LAGOS - TWO months after the controversial deportation of Igbo residents, Governor Babatunde Fashola, Thursday, rendered an unreserved apology to the Igbos over the July 24 dumping of some alleged destitute in Onitsha, Anambra State by his administration, saying, "the action of our government was misunderstood."
This came as President Goodluck Jonathan, deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev. Matthew Kuka, urged Ndigbo to continue to chart new developmental cause for the nation.
However, speaking at silver jubilee symposium of Igbo think tank, 'Aka Ikenga,' at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Victoria Island, Fashola insisted that he could not allow differences on a subject matter tarnish the bond and friendship that were built overtime with the Ndigbo in the state.
Rev. Kuka who was the guest speaker at the symposium, had earlier accused the governor of personally attending the event to settle differences with the Ndigbo speaking community over the controversial deportation saga.
Responding, Fashola argued that his relationship with the Igbo remained solid and that many had misunderstood and misrepresented the actions of the Lagos State Government because of party politics.
According to him: "The truth is that I do not have a problem with the Igbos, they know that because the largest herd of cattle I received during my father's burial came from the Ndigbo. Those people who came under their many colours are not people I have a problem with, they are my kindred and my people.
"Also, there were people who did not clearly understand me and they have misunderstood words said or misrepresented actions taken in the way that it has pleased them to do so. To those people, I owe an explanation, not a defence of what has happened and that is partly why I am here.
"We have built a relationship based on tolerance, mutual respect, trust and love. That relationship was started by our ancestors, it was handed over to us and we have nourished it with a lot of trust, with a lot of understanding and with a lot of fidelity.
"Those who misunderstand that relationship, think that there is no value in that relationship I have come here to correct that because I place a lot of value on that relationship. If those people have misunderstood me or they have misunderstood actions taken by our government, here, now and today, I offer an unqualified and unreserved apology.
"Why should people feel compelled to migrate from one place to the other? Is there one part of this country that is less endowed whether in human or natural resource? Is that the problem? Is it the case that perhaps some parts are so endowed or not adequately managed?
"Those are the honest debates that we must have. The political storm is gathering and allusions have been made to the issues I address, not only by the chairman, but by the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo. How can development be so difficult in the part of Nigeria that gave us Ike Nwachukwu, Chinua Achebe, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Alex Ekwueme and so on, how can development be so difficult in that part of this country? I think those are the real issues."
"I think we have been in the news of our relationship for the wrong reasons in the last few weeks, but if you listen to the voices of those who speak the loudest, you would see that they do not speak about us, they do not speak about the problems, but about themselves. The majority of us are concerned about how to make it better, that is what concerns us always in Lagos, and it is not an easy decision for me." The pursuit of making it better makes us adopt policies which are always subject to the human text of fallibility".
Also, Jonathan who was represented by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, in his address, tasked the group to continue to chart a positive course for the Igbo race, which he said has preserved the enterprise, history, arts and culture of the Igbo nation.
Kuka in his lecture, said the Igbo race in Nigeria needed to cope with the excesses of globalisation which he said has thrown up many challenges and contribute its own quota to national development.
"The greatness of any nation today lies in its capacity and ability to manage diversities and welcome strangers. The Igbo are very much welcomed strangers anywhere. Despite the tragedies and misfortunes that we have, we still have a great nation to build, the final step of the greatness of our nation is where we place integrity", he said.
The event was well attended by notable Igbo politicians and icons including, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, who chaired the occasion, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Kanayo O Kanayo, Onyeka Onwenu among others.
Deportation: Ndigbo are my kindred, I apologise to those who misunderstood me -Fashola
LAGOS State governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Thursday, said the Ndigbo are his kindred and tendered an unreserved apology to the segment of the people who misunderstood a recent action of his administration even as he insisted that there was a need to discuss factors that could be responsible for under-development in the South East.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island venue of a symposium to mark the 25th anniversary of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, said although the majority of Ndigbo in Lagos understood and appreciated the action of the state government, it was obvious that some Igbos did not understand it.
According to the governor, who referred to Ndigbo everywhere as "My kindred," said, "there are people who clearly do not understand me and they have misunderstood words said or misrepresented actions taken in the way that it has pleased them to do so. To those people, I owe an explanation in defence of what has happened and that is partly why I am here as well."
Noting that the Igbo and the Yoruba had built a relationship based on tolerance, mutual respect, trust and love," Governor Fashola declared, "that relationship was started by our ancestors.
It was handed over to us and we have nourished it with a lot of trust and a lot of understanding and a lot of fidelity."
"Those who misunderstand that relationship, who think that there is no value in that relationship, I have come here to correct that. I put a lot of value in that relationship. And so if those people have misunderstood me or they have misunderstood actions taken by our government, here, now, today I offer an unqualified and unreserved apology," he said.
The governor, however, said even the apology did not take away the real issue that provoked the misunderstanding pointing out that the real issue lay in the reason or reason why some sections feel compelled to migrate from one part of the country to the other.
Urging Aka Ikenga to rise up to the challenge of underdevelopment in the South-East, Governor Fashola declared that, "there are questions that caused the misunderstanding and it is those questions the Aka Ikenga must address if it must continue to fulfill its purpose."
He recalled the remarks of the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Ighariwe, who made a distinction between the Igbo in Lagos and those at home, adding, "as he began to distinguish between the Igbo in Lagos and the Igbo at home, I knew there was a real issue; that those at home don't look like those of you here and you don't look like them. They are questions that I think the Aka Ikenga should address."
Stressing the commitment of his administration to making life better for residents, Governor Fashola said if other state governments and their indigenes should commit to developing their state and making life better for the rural communities, the issue of people being compelled to migrate from their homes to other states, without any concrete plans, would be greatly curtailed, wondering how a state that produced so many great Nigerians could lag behind in development.
"How can development be so difficult in the part of Nigeria that gave us Ike Nwachukwu; that gave us Chinua Achebe, Azikiwe, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ekwueme and so on and so forth? How can development be so hard in that part of this country? I think those are the real issues," he said adding, "and as I listened to talks about Ndigbo, perhaps, we should reflect deeply more about the issues that Bishop Kukah's speech has provoked here. Are we more Igbo than Nigerian or are we more Nigerian than Igbo."
Governor Fashola debunked the notion that he was on the occasion "to settle his problem with the Igbos" pointing out that such a "problem" was non-existent, saying that he had come first to thank the Igbo who, according to him, donated the largest herd of cattle during his father's burial.
"The truth is that I do not have a problem with the Igbo and they know that, because the largest herd of cattle that I received during my father's burial was from the Igbo. In fact, when the first cow came, my wife was asking me what this rope is about. But in the fullness of time we got educated and rope followed rope. So those people who came under their many colours are not people I have a problem with. They are my kindred, they are my people," he said.
In his goodwill message, President Goodluck Jonathan paid glowing tribute to the Igbo socio-cultural group, saying, "for 25 years, you have successfully negotiated the interface between your dictates of care for the Igbo nation and the duty of your unflinching loyalty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
Earlier in his welcome address, President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said the 25-year-old group was founded on righteousness, justice and uprightness, all of which are according to him, encapsulated in the name Aka Ikenga, which literally means, "Hand of uprightness or righteousness."