By Emeka Obasi
We all get to learn everyday for knowledge is power. Pretty soon we shall begin to hear agitations from aggrieved Lagosians. This is the season of change, things just cannot remain the same.
When Justice Akinola Aguda was given the task of heading a committee on a new capital for the country in 1975, I doubt if he reasoned that moving from Lagos would leave scars, holes and potholes. Eko today has become the centre of abandoned Federal Government buildings, roads and projects.
Recent revelations by Finance Minister , Kemi Adeosun, that Lagos State generates 55 percent of the country’s VAT should be of interest to all sane minds. The State is also the hub of our Maritime trade, with a huge contribution of 70 percent. The import is that Lagos means a lot to the nation’s survival.
Despite these contributions, Lagos is pathetically neglected by the Federal Government. Honestly, it does not have anything to do with President Muhammadu Buhari. It also does not have much to do with the ruling party. Count tribe out of it. Hausa/Fulani, Gwari, Yoruba, Ijaw, all our leaders are guilty.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari began the move to Abuja. Unfortunately, he lost his position while resting in the new Federal Capital Territory. Maj. Gen. Buhari operated from Lagos where he was toppled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. The military President was to relocate completely to Abuja after escaping death by a whisker during the Gideon Orkar coup of April 1990.
From December 12, 1991 when Babangida dragged power to Abuja till date, Lagos has remained an abandoned old Lady in the books of Abuja. In fact, Abuja behaves like a gold digger, only interested in the wealth of Lagos. Much of the income from Lagos is spent freely while the provider wallows in broken promises.
It is difficult to understand why Lagos should continue to have 20 Local Government Areas while Kano State accounts for 44. Lagos was one of the 12 States created by General Yakubu Gowon in 1967 just like Kano. That same Kano today, consists of Kano and Jigawa States. Jigawa is made up of 27 Local Government Areas.
In sharing revenue, the number of LGAs counts a lot. The import is that while Lagos makes most of the money, the state gets less from Abuja than Kano, Jigawa and so many others. And when Governor Bola Tinubu created 57 LGAs in Lagos, Abuja starved the state of funds.
Of the 12 states created in 1967, only Lagos has continued to stagnate in terms of expansion. Others were balkanised by subsequent federal governments. This is the height of injustice. At the time of creation, three Provinces: Ikeja, Epe and Badagry were added to the Federal Territory of Lagos.
It should be noted that after the amalgamation on Thursday, January 1, 1914, Nigeria was divided into three. There were the Southern provinces under Lieutenant Governor A.G. Boyle,the Northern provinces led by Lieutenant Governor Charles Lindsay Temple and Lagos Colony under the leadership of Administrator F.S. James.
Going down memory lane, Eko began to gain attention when Portuguese merchant, Ruy de Sequeira named it Lagos de Kuramo which subsequently became Lagos. When the British arrived with their gunboats and warships, the Lagos Act of Cession, 1861,made Lagos their colonial territory. On March 5, 1862, it became a Crown Colony and remained a British colony until 1960.
That was the situation when the three regions were created. By 1963, when Midwest was carved out, Lagos became a Federal Capital Territory. In 1967, it turned to a state taking three provinces from the old Western region. At that time, Abuja was one of the seven provinces of the new North-Western State.
The idea that Abuja was a virgin territory makes no sense. The name had been there before Aguda was sent to look for the centre of Nigeria, to be named capital in place of Lagos. Abuja was coined from Abubakar Jatau, an Hausa Prince from Zaria. One of the early settlers, he was.
It is disturbing that Lagos which had an Acting Governor in William McCoy in August 1861 and a substantive governor: William Stanhope Freeman,as from 1862 continues to be treated with disdain by the Federal Government in Abuja. This policy is not healthy at all.
Recently Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s attempt to free Lagos from Abuja humiliation through sponsoring a bill to grant the state special status was thrown away by majority of her colleagues. It is unfortunate that many of these lawmakers benefit so much from wealth created in the former federal capital.
I am going to throw a challenge to the very powerful Lagosians who are in power today. There is no better time to free Lagos from this Abuja approved underdevelopment than now. Asiwaju Tinubu was governor of Lagos for eight years. I call him the governor general of Nigerian politics. And he is the soul of the ruling party.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was a Commissioner in the Tinubu Administration. Senate President, Bukola Saraki is married to a Lagos woman. Triple Minister, Babatunde Fashola, was governor of Lagos between 2007 and 2015.If all these men do not do something to help our Lagos, their Lagos, it will take a long while to change things.
Yes, Lagos our Eko. There is no village in Nigeria that is not represented in Lagos. It is the easiest place to make it big. There are opportunities for all. It is like the Nigeria of our founding fathers. You have people from various backgrounds making laws. Now tell me why Abuja should abandon the National Stadium, Surulere. The Federal Secretariat, Ikoyi is an eyesore. The road to Apapa Wharf is a Memorial Park. Going to the Murtala Mohammed Airport is like death sentence.