Lagos State and the Poli-Comedy of Deportation By Odusote Oluwakayode
It is usually not a surprise when issues relating to being Nigerian are generated, argued and hotly subjected to intellectual debate. There is no doubt that as long as we remain attached to sentimental dispositions as we currently experience, especially when it comes to decisions taken without bias, the present debate on deportation or no deportation is just the beginning of so many debates that would rise.
This current debate is painting yet another faceoff between the Yoruba and Igbo tribes of Nigeria due to the deportation of “destitute” from Lagos state to their states of origin. A critical analysis of opinions regarding the decision by the Lagos state government has generated so many theories of interests.
It is seen in some quarters as political suicide – to that school of thought, political game is supreme in taking decision no matter how good intentions maybe, therefore, a policy of importance to the governed may or may not be necessary if it has nonpolitical advantage.
To some, the decision is unconstitutional – the school of thought believe that all Nigerians have a right to reside in any area they deem fit. The rights as enshrined in the constitution are tenable as a genuine argument anywhere and of course such has been hinged upon to carpet the decision of the Lagos state government.
To other school of thought, the east is a “co owner” of Lagos state because they have a 55% stake in the whole enterprise called Lagos- to them, Lagos is an economic hub, a free trade zone that belong to no man because there are large igbo traders residing in the state with enormous contribution to its economic growth.
Now that school of thought believes strongly that the deportation was unfair considering the economic impact of Igbo people to the development of Lagos (I take that as assumed).
There are other several thoughts arising from a genuine intention by the Lagos state government. I feel for Governor Raji Fashola. He had a good intention but due to political propaganda and I think tribal misunderstanding, the whole exercise got labeled wrongly with several words to characterize the action.
It is important to note that, Gov. Fashola’s policy to “deport” is not the first of its kind in Nigeria. When the author of “Accidental Civil Servant” (Nasir El-Rufai) was Minister of the FCT, he had a similar policy of purging the FCT of “destitute”. He then had a popular controversial exercise of demolition. His desire was to beautify the capital city of Nigeria.
There are states that had adopted the style of ‘deportation” to purge their cities of beggars in order to accommodate planned development and beautification; therefore, Governor Fashola’s policy should not be taken advantage of by ethnic apologist to paint another “Igbo cleansing”.
I totally agree to the rights of every citizen to reside in any place within Nigeria, what we need to understand beyond all the charactization of Raji Fashola’s make or mar decision is the depth of our continued failure as a nation. The most developed part of Nigeria is not even Abuja as most people would have expected but the areas termed “the city centers” of Abuja. Most time, one is left to think if all that is called Nigeria is limited to Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse and other choice areas tagged districts as far as a minister, senator or first lady is interested in such areas. Nigerians migrate to countries that are better developed because we lack development. Same is applicable to our large rural areas. Most citizens migrate and sometime become burden to places like Lagos with a bothering population of over 15million people, Port Harcourt and Abuja in search of a means of survival.
Of course, just as some Nigerians get disappointed upon striving to reach the United Kingdom to see that it is not easy as mostly assumed to survive, the rural migrants in Nigeria are easily lured to adopt other necessary means of survival. What are sometimes available in such cases are options of becoming Beggars, Assassins, Armed Robbers, Thieves, Street Urchins, and Cultist/Ritualist etc.
Those are the burdens of a failing political system when our supposed leaders have amassed state and federal resources for personal financial growth. It is important to chide the governors. Many of them flaunt the wealth they can’t account for and yet they call themselves governors. With the federal allocations due – no matter how small- what have they been able to offer their respective states in terms of massive development? Please, enough of thanking a governor for constructing roads, bridges and refurbishing government lodges, how many jobs have they been able to produce in their eight years of expected service? Development is not expected to be restricted and celebrated in the state capitals. The curse and burden of a developed or developing state will be the migration by residents of a state that lack development.
The Niger Delta states are the most disappointing. With huge Federal allocations, a Ministry of Niger Delta, a Niger Delta Development Commission and an Amnesty programme, the states within the region is expected to be the “Dubai” region of Nigeria. Unfortunately, due to waste of public funds, selfish and irresponsible actions, most states in the region remain in abject poverty.
I think it is important that the failures of governors to develop their states for a better livelihood for its indigenes should be questioned than subjecting Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola to series of criticism with unnecessary and sometimes irrelevant claims. Lagos is an economic hub – accepted- but that does and should not make it a “no man’s” as asserted in some quarters. Trades are expected to be carried out with dignity without becoming burdens to the host state.
Beyond the claims of constitutional rights, social and welfare expectations of the state, economic relevance, political and tribal influence, it is important we understand that Nigeria is hugely divided along ethnic/ religious lines. As a nation, we must seek to understand and correct what is failing us.
We must accept the responsibilities of our collective union with utmost respect to the institutions of government. The search for and discovery of a justifiable political instrument depend on the acknowledgement that we are a federating units, therefore, every scientific approach to sustain a practice that would guarantee internal stability, economic well being, peace and unity must be sincerely and honestly allowed to function. As much as the citizen must be well enlightened, the government should always accept that poverty, unemployment, lack of good and quality education, economic underdevelopment etc are the dangers to stability and peaceful co-existence.
What about the hypocritical Governor Obi who is of course not immune to the policy of deportation? The idea behind his hypocrisy is what is baffling. Could the claims be attributed to a political propaganda against the APC’s image coming on the heels of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra state slated for November 16th 2013? We have heard a group asking the Lagos state governor to apologize to the Igbo with a threat to “ambush” APC if he refuses.
A historic record has it that Anambra state under Governor; Peter Obi deported over 20 “destitute” to their states of origin in 2011. Was the policy to deport a constitutional and moral decision as at then? Could the governor be playing a prepared political script in a swift action to dent the political ambition of APC and its candidate for the state in particular and the region in general? If yes or no, did the governor and his co-actors think of the tribal implications of their decisions to blackmail the Lagos state government going by the usual practice of deportation and subtle ethnic cleansing exercise being carried out by some governors all in the name of “deporting destitute”?
Reports have it that the Akwa Ibom state governor, Godwill Akpabio has contacted the Lagos government of its decision to “deport” two mad Lagos indigenes. How was it ascertained that the “two mad” men are from Lagos state?
These are the sad, unfortunate and annoying issues happening in a country we call ours. The failures of our leaders have contributed largely to the mass “destitute” we are burdened with. As a nation, we can’t blame others for our failure. The United nation, USA and other developed nations will not take care of our destitute; it is the responsibility of our government, be it federal or state to take care of the needy in our societies.
If our government at all levels is responsible enough, full employment, payment of unemployment allowances, elimination of discriminatory policies, modernization of agriculture, provision of basic amenities amongst other reasonable economic objectives would be the utmost in their various plans and strategies. Free education, free health services, rehabilitation of the infirm, disabled, poor and oppressed persons are the expected social responsibilities of government.
It is important that politicizing matters of national concern will unnecessarily heat up the polity, be that as it may, deporters should be asked that if Nigerians are not free to move and be catered for in their own country, where else would they be free and catered for?
ff on twitter:@Actionkay
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org