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Ndigbo made land the gold of Lagos

LAND and landed property are most expensive in Lagos than any other part of Nigeria, except for a part of the Central Business District area of the FCT, Abuja. Landed property in Banana Island, for example, has been reported to be one of the most expensive in the world.

Landed property is even more expensive here in Banana Island, than in some parts of the United Kingdom and South Africa, thus buttressing the various surveys that say Lagos is one of the most expensive cities in the world. While a three-bedroom flat costs as much as N248m, a four-bedroom counterpart can go for as much as N3.5bn, depending on the facilities it offers. In some parts of London, it has been reported that, a four-bedroom flat goes for between N86.1m (£350,000)   and N3.46bn (£10m).

In Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa, such can be obtained for between N20.2m (R1,190,000) and N40.8million (R2,400,000). However, while there is a tested mortgage facility the buyer enjoys in London and other developed places, in Nigeria this is almost non-existent as it is a system of cash-and-carry, and government does not seem to care seriously about mortgage.

This trend of very high prices applies relatively to Victoria Island, Lekki and Ikeja areas. Even virgin lands that are being put up for sale are very expensive in Lagos. The prices went this hay wire when the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, came to power in 1999.

Today, the State Government rakes in staggering sums as revenue from tenement and other rates on land and landed property. Landed property in Lagos has now become ‘gold’, although this applies only to selected areas, as differentiated by the recent tenancy law of the State, and the seemingly deliberate policy of neglecting other areas, especially the Badagry axis.

These have made people to believe that discrimination may be part of the game plan. One expected that given the strategic importance of Badagry and the Seme Border, roads there ought to be developed to open up the area and attract high prices too. Some have argued that it is linked to the bashing of Igbo people, even when it was the Igbos that made land in Lagos the ‘gold’ it has become.

In the early 1970s, Surulere, old Yaba, and Bamgbose Road in the Island were mostly of small but cute bungalow settlements.

Most of Ikeja, Ojo, Anthony, Maryland and Okota were essentially swampy and bushy until Igbos moved in. Ekenedili Chukwu Motors was one of the first companies to move into Allen Avenue in the early 1980s and people wondered what he was doing in that bush. Today, his movement attracted others and Allen has become a completely new world we see today.

The late Igwe J.O. Obi, the Alakoso of Lagos,by the late 1970s, was the first to move into Ire Akari Estate in Isolo, when the whole area was a complete bush.

He also moved his company, Interland Transport, into the Amuwo Adofin Industrial Estate first, brought telephone lines there when it was a vast area of sandy-muddy soil.Today, we have a well-developed industrial estate in that area following his first move. Igbos in fact developed Isolo and Okota areas; they single handedly developed the whole of Olodi, Festac and Ojo areas. Any government that wants to forget this will create problems for itself in the near future.

The attitude of the Igbo man is what other Nigerians must learn to copy in order to foster peace. As civil servants, when Ndigbo get to a place, they settle down there,  build houses and raise  families in that place. But other tribes go on transfer to other places carrying a brief cases; they return with brief cases while remitting all their earnings from such places to their home states.

The investments of the Northern Nigerians in Lagos took a nose dive after the unsuccessful Gideon Okar Coup in April 1990, while that of Igbos continued to increase. Why won’t Nigeria accept and give Igbo man the Presidency for peace to reign?

In order to foster the One-Nigeria of our dream, efforts should be made now to discourage the provocation, oppression and killing of the Igbo man or any non-indigene in any part of Nigeria. The South East should come up with a policy of cows for burial programme. Any state government may demand 10 cows for the burial of any Igbo person killed in the North. It may  simply take 10 befitting cows from any cow dealer from within the concerned state and issuing the dealer with an official receipt which the dealer can use to claim re-imbursement from his home state on his return.

The FG should support this plan to protect Igbos and others from unwarranted and unprovoked attacks.

A casual travel within Benue State will reveal a quiet, richly endowed expanse of land, good and rich for agriculture and other industrial productions. In Benue which is known as the food basket of Nigeria, land is cheap, people are friendly and generally peaceful. The government appreciates Igbos, and come to think of it, it is just a stone throw from Enugu State. The military era is gone forever, so let Igbos go to where they are celebrated, rather than remain in areas where their stay is no longer welcome. The South East and Benue State can really forge a common ground for cooperation in all facets of life.Nigeria owes Ndigbo, and Ndigbo also owes Nigeria. This is what must engage the minds of Igbo leaders in order to pave the ways for Igbo Presidency in the nearest future.

Any scheme for the position of a Vice President at this time is less than what Ndigbo deserve. Our leaders must organise themselves to produce an Igbo President now or soon after GEJ.

Mr.  CLEMENT UDEGBE, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos.


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