2023 ELECTIONS

March 26, 2023

Row over Igbo’s fate in Lagos: Respect us or leave!

Atiku

Chief Femi Fani-Kayode

By Femi Fani-Kayode

“Don’t stay in Lagos, and benefit from the leadership, infrastructure and economy Lagosians built over time, yet carry resentment towards them. You threaten violence and de-market Lagos on social media. You have options. Behave or relocate!” – Reno Omokri.

Let me open this short contribution by saying that I completely agree with the views expressed above by Pastor Reno Omokri.

Let us hope that those he is attempting to offer such wise counsel appreciate and accept it before it is too late and things fall apart.

I am constrained to go further by saying that I also share the views of my dear friend, brother and colleague at the Tinubu/Shettima PCC, Omo Oba Bayo Onanuga, who reflected the views and thoughts of millions of our fellow Yorubas when he expressed deep and legitimate concerns about the attempt by the Ibo community in Lagos to take over our land and claim it as theirs.

This is something that they themselves would never tolerate members of any other ethnic nationality to attempt to do in the East and neither would any of us try it.

The truth is that if you insist on living in someone else’s land or territory, you must respect them. And as they say, respect begets respect.

If you must live amongst us, kindly refrain from poking your fingers into our eyes simply because we gave you the space and afforded you the opportunities that you have refused to offer us in the East.

We do this because we are decent, civilised, kind-hearted, peace-loving and just people who believe strongly in the ethos of charity, a plurality of community, the efficacy of racial and religious harmony, peaceful coexistence and full and unfettered integration.
That does NOT, however, mean that we are fools. Our history proves that we are slow to anger but irresistible in battle. It is not wise to provoke us or raise our sleeping swords.

Being too kind, accommodating and charitable has its price and it appears that we the Yoruba may have learnt this the hard way.
Opening up your home to a stranger and being your brother’s keeper is one thing but giving him your head and all that is dear to you on a platter of gold is quite another.

And unless they change their attitude quickly and drastically it may well be better for them to go home.

As a consequence of recent events and the outrageous and insulting “Lagos is a no man’s land” battle cry and mantra which many Ibos in Lagos espouse and constantly bellow and mouth, many of our people believe that Alaba International Market, Computer Village, Trade Fair and other places that they have occupied and taken over should be evacuated and vacated and converted to schools, deep sea ports, housing estates and amusement parks.

That is the level of anger and view of millions of our people today and we ignore those views at our peril.

They also believe that we should act fast and make the necessary changes in our attitude to non-Yoruba settlers and aliens and reflect on our propensity for being too “woke” and too liberal in our dealings with them.

This view was ably reflected by Rotimi Adeosun when he tweeted the following day after the governorship election in Lagos on March 19.
He wrote, “Congrats to putting an end to the issue of real ownership of Lagos. Going forward, let there be a review of the following: Land ownership and rent law.

Elective and appointive policy. The ethnic concentration of markets. Limits to liberalisation culture. The teaching of Yoruba history. Be wary of usurpers!”

Points are taken and forceful, compelling and lucid they are too.

In his own contribution, one Legendary Joe again reflected the mood when he tweeted the following:
“We voted in Lagos today not along political lines but along the lines of heritage. We voted for our pride. We made a statement that our liberal nature should never be abused. What we won’t attempt in yours, do not force on us. We voted to retain Lagos”.

These are insightful and incisive contributions and they must be taken very seriously.

They can best be described as wake-up calls and the propositions and counsel that are being suggested and offered must be considered by all the relevant stakeholders in Yorubaland generally and Lagos particularly before it is too late.

Clearly thanks to the insulting ways and disrespectful tone, words and attitude of those that came from the East to settle amongst us yet covet our land and seek to destroy everything we value and stand for, Yoruba nationalism has come alive again.

Our gullible liberalism and naive wokeism have resulted in a dangerous, hard-line and pronounced backlash which is fuelled by anger and which cannot be easily managed and contained.

Our people are now counting the cost of our innocent yet disastrous open door policy and disposition as a direct consequence of the excesses and provocative actions of the Ibos in Lagos.

And what is that cost?

If you really want to know let’s go back in time a little.

Permit me to take you on a walk down history lane.

When Nnamdi Azikiwe, the NCNC and the Igbo State Union tried to take over Yoruba land in the 1952 Western Regional elections, he lost to Obafemi Awolowo and the Action Group by a very narrow margin.

I believe it was by two seats in Parliament and Action Group was saved from a Zik victory only because they went into an alliance with the Ibadan Peoples Party which gave them a majority of two in Parliament! That is how close it was.

Had it not been for that Zik, an Igbo man, would have been elected as the first Premier of the old Western Region and the Yoruba would have eventually lost EVERYTHING including their language, culture, heritage, land and values.

After his defeat Zik packed his bags and said the following famous words: “I shall return to the East from whence I came”.
Thereafter he went back to the old Eastern Region to be elected Premier.

71 years later the story appears to have repeated itself.

The Ibo, this time led by one Peter Obi, a trader who was fuelled, strengthened and emboldened by his relative success and gains during the presidential election in the state two weeks earlier, tried to forcefully take over Lagos in the 2023 governorship election by intimidation, threats and propaganda and by fielding a young and impressionable man by the name of Chinedu Rhodes-Vivour who neither speaks nor understands Yoruba, whose family derives from Sierra Leonne and Opobo in Rivers State and who, like his aggressive supporters, claimed that Lagos is a “no man’s land” as his candidate.

Thankfully they failed and the young man was roundly defeated by Jide Sanwo-Olu, a young, diligent, hardworking, civilised, decent and focused administrator and bona fide Yoruba man.

It is now time for Peter, Chinedu and all their Obidient supporters to follow Zik’s noble example, tread the path of honor and either respect us and live with us in love and peace or go back to the East “from whence they came”. They will do far better there. We in the South-West must do a lot of soul-searching and educate the liberals in our midst about the dangers of being too kind, too charitable and too accommodating to the usurpers that have infiltrated our territory.

We can show them charity, love and kindness but this must never be at the expense of our values, identity, dignity, culture or heritage.

We must endeavour to ensure that history does not repeat itself again, that this terrible cycle of our Ibo brothers repaying our good with ingratitude and subterfuge stops and that they never have the temerity and effrontery to claim that Lagos, or indeed any other part of Yoruba land, is theirs again.

• Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation