By BASHIR ADEFAKA
If President Goodluck Jonathan is desirous of how not to heat up Nigeria by his own hands, he should listen to the voice of reason. This is so because, according to popular opinion, the burning of Lagos is the same as the burning of the nation.
So, the President has been advised by stakeholders in Lagos State particularly of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to take heed regarding his treatment of Lagos State in matters of national question under his administration.
The President’s choice of Dr. Olusegun Aganga for the slot of Lagos State in his emerging cabinet has been met with stringent opposition by stakeholders in the Centre of Excellence as they say the former Finance Minister, as a non-indigene of Lagos State, cannot be ‘sincerely’ accepted as representing Lagos in the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Prominent among the agitators is Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, a former Commander Corps of Artillery, former General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, one time Deputy Defence Adviser in Moscow, former Minister of Communications of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and, above all, a prince from Lagos State.
General Olanrewaju is angry that, in spite of the many relentless efforts by Lagos people including himself to give President Jonathan the bulk victory he got from the former Federal Capital Territory in the last presidential election, he could decide to play dangerous politics with the destiny of Lagos State people when it came to who should be their eye in the Federal cabinet under his chairmanship.
Recently President Jonathan submitted names of ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening; two each from each state of the federation with Olusegun Aganga, a non-Lagosian, as representative of Lagos State. But Lagosians, according to General Olanrewaju, will not take it easy with the President should they be “pushed to the Atlantic” as he said they were consistently being deprived of the rights to having a say in the running of the nation “we all call our own.”
In a move believed to be corroborating the General Olanrewaju position, the three Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Senators in the Senate opposed Aganga’s comfirmation during the screen and the opposition by the ACN’s senior legislators were reportedly approved by the Senate. In spite of everything, the former Finance Minister eventually scaled through and was cleared as minister-designate.
General Olanrewaju therefore kicked and he is not alone in the clamour that Jonathan should do things properly in this regard – revisit the issue of ministerial slot of Lagos State at the FEC.
A retired judge, Justice Ishola Oluwa, faulted the nomination, in the first instance, of the former Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga as the Lagos state representative. His reason is that Aganga hails from Edo and not Lagos State.
”What is the point here is that, as it stands now, Lagos State has no representatives in the Federal Executive Council. This is because Aganga, our nominee, is from Sabongida Ora in Edo State, so he cannot represent Lagos State,” the 93-year-old Justice Oluwa submitted.
Clarifying his position, General Olanrewaju said his grouse was not against the person of Olusegun Aganga but against the process leading to his nomination adding that history will never forgive them if Lagos State stakeholders fail to rise against the injustice.
“I have nothing against President Jonathan nor Aganga, but the President has to do the right thing. He is doing the right thing for his own people as President. I am not President but I have been minister in this country and I think when people like us don’t stand up to this challenge, posterity will never forgive us. I am appealing to the President to do something quickly and urgently about it.
“Even the President of the Senate, David Mark, should have seen the unconstitutionality in it and shouldn’t have allowed Aganga’s clearance.
General Olanrewaju, a radical politician, quoted Abraham Lincoln, former American President as saying, “In a nation state, the smallest population must be given the pride of place and must also be given some sense of belonging.” He noted because the popular Lincoln’s position earned him the nickname of an ‘Emancipator’ and urged President Jonathan to borrow a leave from such a noble stand by making himself an Emancipator for Lagos people in this matter.
“Because we Lagosians are facing the minority problem the Niger Delta people once faced. But now they are in the mainstream and that is what we want.” The General said.
“The trouble in the Aganga being taken for Lagos slot in the cabinet is that, he is not a Lagos indigene. It is as simple as that! Can the Federal Government do it to Kano people? Can they do it to Akwa Ibom or Bayelsa people? Oh, doing it to Lagos people is unfair! It’s unfair! Enough is just enough! It’s as simple as that!
“We knew what happened to the minority people of Bayelsa; they fought for their own independence and they are now enjoying it. Yes we know we don’t form the majority of the population but we have decided to be part of this nation. I am not just a mouthed Lagosian, let it be clear that I am an Awori and a prince from Lagos State and I have the rights to complain.