My Take on the Lagos-Igbo Deportation Conundrum By Akegbejo mofesola
The recent deportation of some Igbo ‘destitutes’ from Lagos by Governor Fashola has no doubt heated up the polity and caused tensions between the Igbos and their Yoruba brothers. It has equally sparked truculent debates in the social media. There seems to be no stop to the war like rhetoric and tribalistic verbiage coming from both sides of the divide.
On the issue of Lagos being a no man’s land i wouldn’t dwell much on that, i consider that nonsensical as it bears no importance to this matter of national importance. If Lagos is in the southwest today it is because Lagos is a Yoruba territory. The hullabaloo, higi haga, and crinkum crankum that the issue has generated is unnecessary. I say so because some of the lilliputian who are determined to carve a niche for themselves by playing ethnic politics with this issue simply forgot that Governor Fashola has ‘deported’ destitutes from Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Kano to their respective states.
These emergency activists were absent when the Anambra state government in December of 2011 deported 29 beggars to Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states, but because Lagos is Lagos, [pun intended] they seem to have found their voice. The attempt by these unscrupulous elements and failed politicians insinuating that ethnicity was the overiding factor behind the deportation so as to score cheap political points over this issue is baseless and senseless. They seem to forget that this same man they now accuse of playing the ethnic card has an Igbo man as commissioner in his cabinet; attended a colloquium organised by the late Chinua Achebe in the United States at a time when Igbo-yoruba relations was at its lowest ebb owing to fallouts from the book “There was a Country” written by literary icon, Late Achebe. I challenge these traducers to tell me anywhere else this has happened in Nigeria.
It is true that our Igbo brothers have contributed immensely to the growth and development of Lagos, anyone who says otherwise is a misguided fool but this is so because the host state has made life easy for them. One deluded writer said the Igbos didn’t go to their home states during the last census and so contributed to the huge allocation Lagos state receives. He forgot that after the census the Igbos would return to Lagos and that such allocation would be used for the overall interest of the state and that it is in the overall interest of the Igbos that they get counted where they reside.
Let us face the reality, Lagos over the years has been bombarded by people who think they cannot make it anywhere but lagos. It is true that Nigerians across board have the right to live anywhere in the country, but more often than not majority of these people come to Lagos without a preconceived plan, some of them were brought by relatives who cannot fend for themselves. They describe Lagos to this naive and often unsuspecting people as a place where problems get solved automatically promising them heaven and earth only to dissapoint them. These people end up becoming robbers, criminals and destitutes thereby impeding the economic development of the state.
Considering the level of development going on in Lagos and other cities across Nigeria, it is imperative and of paramount necessity to clear the streets of beggars and destitutes. This sounds harsh but its the sad reality. I cannot imagine beggars on the streets of New York, London,or Paris and these are cities whose standard we hope to attain someday.
Abeokuta, The Ogun state capital has witnessed unprecedented transformation due to the harsh but productive policies of the state government. Femi falani (SAN) is someone I venerate so much. He is a mentor and inspiration to millions of Nigerian Youths like myself but i think he erred grammatically by equating a poor man with a destititute. A destitute according to the dictionary is someone lacking the basic necessities of life while a poor man simply does not have ‘enough’. He spoke as a typical ‘lawyer’ and he was being doctrinaire by condemning the deportation on the fact that no law supports such, if 2 state governors mutually agree on the deportation of destitutes or beggars from either states i see nothing wrong with this. What other favour can be done to beggars or destitutes some of who have been declared missing for years in their respective states other than to re-unite them with their families?
Let me say that the preponderance of indigenes over settlers in a state where they both pay taxes is anachronistic and totally unacceptable. All over the world, settlers play a major role in the development of their host communities. The blacks in America are settlers, not native Americans and over the years their influence has increased tremendously especially with the election of Barack Obama. The whites who are native Americans would become minority by 2042.
I suggest that a law be passed that allows settlers who have lived in any part of the country for a specified number of years and are diligent in payment of tax be eligible for public office. This will reduce ethnicity to its bearest minimum as it will make us forget our tribal differences and forge us into a very powerful nation that will dwarf the United States of America. It will also allow for flexibility as individuals would be able to represent the interests of their home state on account of it being their state of origin and also their state of residence. I am of the opinion that lagos belongs to all and sundry just like Enugu, Kano belongs to all Nigerians. If Umaru altine,a fulani man from Sokoto who lost an election in his home town of sokoto could migrate to Enugu a major Igbo town and win an election becoming the first mayor of the city in 1954 and was subsequently re-elected in 1956, I see no reason why a settler cannot become the governor of Lagos or any other state in Nigeria. I only advise that governors do not use this deportation issue to get at one another as the Akwa Ibom state government is set to deport 2 mad Lagosians roaming around the streets of Uyo,
Finally, let me add that the minute the Lagos state government deviates and deports ‘any Nigerian’ whether rich or poor going about his or her normal business in the state, i shall be first to lend my voice against such.
Eko o ni baje o
Long live Lagos state,
Long live the federal republic of Nigeria.
@mofesola_ on twitter
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