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“When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.” — Chinua Achebe

I am still trying to get a handle on what really happened, how 72 Nigerians of Igbo extraction were dumped in Anambra State. Really, can you be deported in your own country? So what exactly is going on? The former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, was up in arms that the Governor of Lagos State acted unconstitutionally by deporting them that he has issued a 7-day ultimatum for the governor to apologise and stop future illegality from happening.

Defending Governor Fashola’s action, his Special Adviser on Youths and Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, said: ‘The end result is to reunite them back with their families.’ A very unlikely story if that were the case, we should see more people coming forward when they are tired of living Lagos and they are desperate to be bussed out? Fashola defended his corner that contrary to the 72 that was widely reported he said that the number is 14.

So what really happened then? It was said that the plight of these deportees was reported to their place of origin and communicated the wish of these people to return to their home state once they have been rehabilitated, detoxed and health restored.

These people,we were told were picked up on the streets of Lagos as part of a continuous exercise to assist vulnerable citizens who roam the streets without food or shelter and a number who have medical ailments, usually in the nature of mental infirmity. So the magnanimity of the Lagos State programme is treating them and restoring them to health. They were seen by social workers who were told they wanted to be repatriated to their home state. So it stated that “in the event, they disclosed that they were from Anambra and sought assistance to go back home”.

They did defend their decision that a letter did indicate that the Akwa Ibom Government responded to Lagos Ministry of Women Affairs, repatriating two indigenes of Lagos, who were picked up on the streets of Uyo. So what is the faith of other vulnerable people, will they be picked up by the special squad and taken to a place of safety?

Alarm bells should ring as it reminds me of the time when we had dog catcher squads who went about town rounding up stray dogs but they also scooped up domestic dogs. If they are creating a pick up squad, we are setting a dangerous precedent and it is going to be very dangerous not for only vagrants, disabled and vulnerable people but we know how Nigeria is, anything is open exploitation. This is open to abuse and it means individual state become territorial and discriminatory. We are already quite intolerant as it is,we tend to go on overdrive and take the tribal high roads without questioning the motives. It is a distraction for those who do not want peace and stability in Nigeria.

Deportees from Lagos
Deportees from Lagos

So who runs and manage these rehabilitation centre and who administer these treatments? Do we really think we can rid our streets of those we see as undesirables ? Out of sight does not mean that the problem of poverty and associated ills will disappear no, it has just been decanted elsewhere .

As for Lagos State, As we often say, when you are tired of Lagos, you are tired of life! All roads leads to Lagos like any metropolis, people come in search of work and a better life and it has always been like that everywhere across the world.

So there is more than meets the eye with this story. The other explanation by the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Umar Manko is no better as he categorically denied that Lagos State did not ‘deport’ 72 persons of Igbo ethnicity.

He explained away that ” the state government embarked on ‘revive and reform’ mission which after they indicated that they would be happy to go back to their home town and be resettled.So in the last two weeks there have been some to and fro in denials and rebuttals in the last two weeks.

The Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola continues to offer his response in an open letter to Peter Obi, the governor of Anambra State over the deportation of some indigenes of Anambra from Lagos State, and he followed with another within 24 hours. So are we any wiser than when the story first broke

If they are local people do they then receive treatment and taken to their families who may not be in the position to take care of them?

There are many opportunists who are quick to join the bandwagon on the tribal and state divide. I would hope that being a Nigerian is exactly what it is:A Nigerian and that I could go where I want, provided I abide by the law of the land. Not sure the former governor of Abia State is right to think we are different in race, we are not.

It is very unlike Fashola’s administration to act out of character; he has always been fair and forthright. He always put the interest of all the people of Lagos at the forefront. This is very worrying sign if it is what it is. Each tribe to his own? We are Nigerians pure and simple. We cannot afford to be strangers in our own homeland.

How is too much is never enough
It seems that Nigeria is on holidays from urgent state duties. Her politicians are busy cutting deals: some of them who are in their first term as governors are designing to go to the senate; those who are in the second or third terms are scheming for the fourth and the umpteenth. Even the president of two and half terms wants more.

And the chairmen and councillors are not left out. The result: the economy is haemorrhaging; the greedy are stuffing their overfilled pockets with the nation’s wealth. Sadly, this is how they will carry on till the elections. You can’t make this up even if you wanted to, they are really eager to make grounds and galvanise their power base and of course ,the flowing money well.

So the good Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue is on his last tenure but he appears to be playing his cards very close to his chest. Actually, the modus operandi is the same with his lot; He will contest for the senate just like those before him, then will tread the well-worn path to the lush and gravy train of the upper chamber of the National Assembly. He has not said much but we know he will and others have implied on his behalf.


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