Permit me to make my second and final contribution to the raging debate about Lagos, who owns it and the seemingly endless tensions that exist between the Igbo and the Yoruba. 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.
Dr Alex Ekwueme, Chief Achike Udenwa, Dr Samuel Egwu, Senator Ben Obi and Others during an Igbo Summit
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 I am not too concerned or worried about what anyone may think or how they may feel about what I am about to say because 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 nationalities in this country and this is often done to their 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 civilisation 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 hierachial 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 of irreverant and unintelligent rubbish simply because 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 in our land…