Columns

Lagos is somebody’s land

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:1, 26). It is obvious that from the concept of creation, God created the earth and gave it to the children of men, so every land on earth is owned by somebody.

It’s important to note that indigenous peoples of the earth of a particular region change from time to time by assimilation, conquest or accommodation. In Nigeria today, the case is not different. The Igbo occupy the eastern part of Nigeria while the Yoruba occupy the western part of Nigeria and the Hausa occupy the northern part of Nigeria. This was how it stood at independence of Nigeria in 1960. Lagos, according to history, was the first colony that was voluntarily ceded to the British colonial masters by the Oba of Lagos. This voluntary act gave the colonial masters the sense of cooperation they desired from their conquered territories, unlike the hostility they met in the Northern and Eastern parts of Nigeria, that they were comfortable to make Lagos the capital of the entire Nigeria from the year of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates. That sense of accommodation seen among the indigenes of Lagos also encouraged other ethnic and religious nationalities within Nigeria to take up residence and accommodation in Lagos. This encouraged the phenomenal growth of the economy of Lagos and made it the most populated and prosperous state in Nigeria.

At independence, Lagos, being the Federal Capital Territory, acquired the sobriquet of Lagosians for its inhabitants. When the Capital city of Nigeria was moved to Abuja, initially, Lagos retained its flavour of accommodation for everybody, but like it’s often stated in the scriptures, when the righteous are in power, the people rejoice, but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn. The only instrument through which the wicked rule the people is divide and rule. The persistent dominance of Lagos State by a set of power grabbers for a continuous unbroken period of 24 years has negatively taken its toll on the unity and oneness of Lagosians and has left Lagos unrecognizable in terms of spirit of live and let live.

In 1999, Nigeria entered the Fourth Republic. The first party that took control of Lagos State was the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which was a creation of Afenifere to control the political power of the people of Southwest and give them direction. The people perceived AD as a progressive party and gave them all their support. Lagosians voted unanimously for the AD. The beneficiary of such maximum support of Lagosians for AD was Senator Ahmed Tinubu who won as the governor of Lagos State. By then, the Igbo in Lagos were Lagosians not strangers. Tinubu fell out with Afenifere politically, as early as 2003. Lagosians again supported and voted for Tinubu because he was the underdog in his misunderstanding with Afenifere. In 2007, Tinubu was to hand over power to a successor against the powerful PDP federal might. He again rallied Lagosians who are always willing to support and fight for the underdog and hate being dictated to. Lagosians supported massively his chosen successor, Babatunde Fashola and he won. All this while, there was a consistent voice of one “Igbokwe” that was the most vociferous defender of anything and everything that Tinubu stood for. The name Igbokwe is Igbo and as long as Ndigbo supported Tinubu, they were Lagosians.

The crack between the Tinubu clan and Lagosians actually started after his regime when Lagosians learnt that Tinubu was using a company Alpha Beta to collect all the revenues of Lagos State. The belief then was that his successor Fashola didn’t support the idea of Tinubu collecting all the revenue and because of that Tinubu wanted to deny him of his second term. As usual, Fashola was the underdog, who appeared to be defending the people from the godfather that wanted all the money for himself. Tinubu, being an experienced politician, that didn’t have power at the centre, soft-pedalled and allowed Fashola a second term, but the honeymoon was over. By 2015, Akinwumi Ambode was chosen by Tinubu to take over from Fashola. At that time, Lagosians had become fed up with the feudal structure that has evolved in Lagos championed by touts and agberos. Fashola couldn’t end them because they got their strength from the godfather. Ambode’s election saw more Lagosians rejecting the godfather and Ambode won by very narrow margin. A lot of people still believe he didn’t win the election because the card reader was bypassed to give him victory. The court pronounced him winner.

By 2019, Tinubu had become the leader of APC and APC had become the ruling party at the centre. He believed he didn’t need the support of Lagosians or anyone to do whatever he liked in Lagos. He denied Ambode the second term in office and bulldozed Sanwo-Olu into office. He lost whatever is remaining of his support from Lagosians. The only way he could win Lagos was to start dividing Lagos. Lagosians started hearing that Ndigbo are strangers who proclaimed Lagos, “a no man’s land”. This statement actually looks empty and silly for a very careful observer because if Lagos is a no man’s land, it means that even the Igbo will not have any right over their own acquired property which are much. For the avoidance of doubt, Ndigbo have their traditional, social-cultural, religious and political leaders and there was no time any of these leaders made such baseless and unintelligent statement on their behalf. Assuming without conceding that someone made such statement after drinking in a bar or one big man jocularly made such a statement after an argument with his peers, what has that got to do with Ndigbo, even if that singular person is Igbo. This is like blaming the entire Northerners for the cancellation of June 12, 1993 presidential election just because a Northerner cancelled the election, while forgetting that if Northerners didn’t vote for the winner, there wouldn’t be June 12 in the first place to cancel. Again, what has the statement got to do with the right of Nigerians to vote for anybody of their choice in an election?

The only logical way to interpret these shenanigans is that the originators of these slogans are merely trumping them up to divide Lagosians along ethnic lines in order to continue their domination over them since they have lost their support. Their other strategy is to christen Lagos a Yoruba land. This is even a more sinister ploy to continue their robbery of Lagos State patrimony. Why didn’t they say that Lagos should be for Lagos indigenes or are they suggesting that Lagos doesn’t have original indigenes? They used the phrase Yoruba Land because the people that are usurping Lagos land are not original indigenes of Lagos. It is often said that the godfather is from Osun while the present Governor is from Ogun State. We have not seen a Yoruba Lagos indigene being a governor in any other Yoruba Southwest state, but have seen the preponderance of other Yorubas from other Southwest states becoming governors in Lagos. This is simply a ploy to continue stealing from the original Lagos indigenes whose children, these other invading Yoruba people from other states, have perpetually turned into area boys and girls, motor park touts and agberos who take to doing drugs and begging to make both ends meet. They are the ones recruited to do the dirty jobs of these overlords and it’s in their strategic interest to keep them uneducated because lack of education makes people easy to deceive. We must acknowledge that the efforts of Fashola and Ambode, the original indigenes of Lagos State, to help their people and end the concept of touts and agberos being in charge of Lagos was part of the reason for their attempted and eventual removal. Fashola struggled to get a second term while Ambode failed. Sanwo-Olu from Ogun State got a second term easily in his primary because of his loyalty to the agbero leadership of Lagos State, but lost completely the support of Lagosians. One Folarin Falana pointedly told him, “you were not elected, you selected yourself” after the rancorous election of March 18.

On March 18, the worst of the occupiers of Lagos was unleashed. It was so bad that even cute Yorubas were not allowed to vote because they looked like Igbo as if looking tattered and dejected is now the best way to identify Yorubas. People from other tribes were ostracised as if being from other tribes is now the identity of non-supporters of the godfather. At the end of the day, the last election has become the worst thing that has happened to the Yoruba since independence. Their names are now entering the international criminal court as suspects. Their social cultural group Afenifere maintains that Peter Obi won the election by their evidence while President Olusegun Obasanjo openly declared that INEC officials collected blood money to declare their preferred presidential candidate. Bode George, an original indigene of Lagos State, has opted to go on exile if Tinubu is sworn in as President. If these people were Ndigbo, the spin doctors would have gone to town that they were saying so because they want to take over Lagos. The truth is that what happened in the 2023 general election was a rejection of the old order of criminality and corruption and a quest for a new Nigeria and no matter how the evil rulers want to spin it Nigerians and Lagosians have rejected the old order and is craving for a change. They cannot do anything to an idea whose time has come. They cannot succeed in dividing us using ethnic and religious sentiments. As far as the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is concerned, all Nigeria land belongs to Nigerians and every Nigerian is entitled to own movable and immovable property and reside anywhere he chooses while carrying on his daily life without let or hindrance. If everyone in a place is not exempted from paying taxes on account of being a non-indigene then nobody has the right to exempt any group from their right to choose those leaders that will collect those taxes from them to ensure that the taxes are used for the benefit of all. The truth is that Lagos belongs to Lagosians.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button