Nigeria is a country that takes one step forward and 10 steps backwards. Ethnic bigots wearing the cloak of politics want to set the country on fire again. Threatened by the strong determination of the Nigerian youths to take back their country long ravaged by old, corrupt politicians, these bigots deploy hate speeches and obvious lies as weapons to confuse and sway the electorate to vote for their preferred candidates.
This is what they have deployed against the Labour Party (LP) candidate in the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State, Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. This 40-year-old young man is a true Lagosian. But because his mother and wife are Igbo, the refrain in his opponent’s camp is that Igbo want to take over Lagos, a Yoruba land.
Suddenly, Labour Party, founded by the Nigerian Labour Congress, has become an Igbo party. This is mainly to de-market Rhodes-Vivour and Mr. Peter Obi, who used the LP to launch his bid for the presidency. In their collective amnesia, they forgot that Dr. Segun Mimiko, who is not Igbo, used the platform of LP to win and govern Ondo State some years back. Essentially, what one can regard as the real Igbo party is the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
It is unfortunate that rather than woo voters with issue-based campaign and superior manifesto, some members and supporters of the ruling party in Lagos have continued to engage in unnecessary intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on non-indigenes in Lagos. Recall that in 2015, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, threatened to throw the Igbo into the lagoon if they failed to vote for the then Governor Akinwumi Ambode.
Even before and during the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, some thugs and traditional rulers issued threats that Igbo people should not bother coming to vote in some areas of Lagos. The Police were in some of these places, but they did nothing. Most annoying was the systematic disenfranchisement of the electorate living in areas considered to be mainly populated by the Igbo. This was achieved through disruptions in the continuous voter registration and collection of permanent voter cards exercises in such areas.
To worsen matters, after the results of the 2023 presidential election were announced, some hoodlums attacked some markets dominated by Igbo traders in the city. This reportedly happened at Alaba, Lagos Island, Ikotun, Computer Village in Ikeja and Ilasamaja. Just the other day, some yet-to-be identified miscreants set ablaze the Igbo-dominated Akere Spare Parts Market at Olodi Apapa area of Lagos. The motive behind this crime is not very clear yet.
The threats and attacks against the Igbo did not start today. After the unfortunate coup of 1966, hundreds of thousands of them were massacred in the North. They ran back to their home base only to be drawn into a 30-month civil war that claimed the lives of at least three million of them. After the war, they lost some of their property in some parts of the country in the name of abandoned property. Those who had bank accounts were given £20 each. It didn’t matter if you had billions of naira in your accounts before the war. The then government of Yakubu Gowon promised three Rs – Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation.
Today, the three Rs have become a ruse as the cry of marginalization has continued to reverberate in the South-East. The region is classified among educationally advantaged states. This means their children who score very high marks for entrance exams into federal unity schools are denied admission while those considered educationally disadvantaged are offered admission even when they score as low 2 marks in the exam. Despite the Federal Character principle, major federal appointments, especially in security circles, are skewed against them. Now, a pan Nigerian of Igbo extraction, Peter Obi, propelled mainly by the youths of Nigeria, dared to contest the presidential election against all odds. He was brazenly rigged out and asked to go to court. He has gone to court. But, be it known that any nation where there is no justice will never know peace.
Be it also known that using every slight opportunity to attack the Igbo and destroy their property because of their political leanings will not cow them. They don’t usually succumb to blackmail and intimidation. It will rather strengthen their resolve to come out and vote for a candidate of their choice. Many of those who tried this tactics in the South-East hit a brick wall. When Chris Ngige was the governor of Anambra State, some misguided godfathers tried to hold the state to ransom. There was nothing they didn’t do to Ngige, including kidnapping him even as a sitting governor. Today, the godfather politics has been roundly defeated in Anambra. Even the recent attempts by a business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze, to wear the cloak of a godfather ended disastrously as the last election went against his wish.
Those who accuse the Igbo of ethnic bigotry because they voted en masse for Obi fail to appreciate one fact about these people. They are not given to kowtowing to any individual or group of individuals. To them, there is nothing like godfather. Their actions are usually based on conviction; and their support for anyone, most times, is based on competence and how they perceive the character contesting the election.
In the June 12, 1993 presidential election, for instance, Igbo people voted for Chief MKO Abiola (a Yoruba) against Alhaji Bashir Tofa. This is not minding that Tofa’s running mate was Igbo. In 1999 and 2003, Igbo voted for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (a Yoruba). Igbo sons like the late Chief Alex Ekwueme had to even step down for Obasanjo to make way for the South-West to produce the president. It was to compensate the region for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta. Ndi Igbo also supported and voted massively for Umaru Yar’Adua (Fulani) in 2007 and Goodluck Jonathan (Ijaw) in 2011 and 2015. In 2019, they voted for Atiku Abubakar (Fulani). In the last election held on February 25, 2023, Igbo supported and voted Obi because they believe he is the best candidate among the lot who contested with him. If the contest were to be between a character like Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Professor Yemi Osinbajo from Ogun State, Ndi Igbo would vote for Osinbajo.
It is for equity and also in recognition of Obi’s qualities that the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, endorsed and supported his 2023 presidential bid. Many Yoruba masses also supported and voted for him.
It is pertinent to note that an average Yoruba man has no problem with an Igbo man. Historically, they have been living together and even intermarrying. In the First Republic, Igbo sons like the late nationalist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik), played pivotal roles in the politics of Lagos. Zik’s party, the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) won elections in Lagos. In fact, Zik represented Lagos in the Western House.
Besides, Ndi Igbo have invested heavily in Lagos state. Some are into real estate. They own choice property in different parts of Lagos. They didn’t steal such property. They bought them. Some are into transport and aviation business. Some are big-time manufacturers. Some are traders in different markets such as Idumota, Alaba, and Ladipo. Hence, they have contributed immensely to the growth and development of Lagos through their taxes and some other ways.
As a cosmopolitan city and former Nigeria’s capital, Lagos is home to people of different races, tribes and countries. There are as many Southeasterners as there are northerners, South-South and South-West people. Citizens of neighbouring countries like Togo and Ghana are in Lagos. This is what makes Lagos what it is. So, the talk about Igbo taking over Lagos is nothing but figment of the imagination of those who are pained that power may be slipping off their hands after the general election.
What the leaders and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) fail to understand is that a good number of Lagosians are fed up with some parasitic godfathers in their midst who have held the state hostage for over 23 years. Most people want a clean break from the status quo. So, while thugs of the ruling party hunt for scapegoats among the Igbo, people of other tribes, including the Yoruba, may be the ones who will vote the party out. Nigerians, especially the youths, are yearning for real change. And they will embrace whoever they feel will offer them that change. The onus is on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as the Chief Security Officer of the state, to give express orders to the police and other law enforcement agencies to protect all residents of Lagos and deal decisively with anyone found fomenting trouble in the state. Without free and fair election, our democracy will continue to be in grave peril.
Re: Elections: Presidency has fooled Nigerians
Casmir, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) connived with Yakubu to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians – in a tomfoolery – via the shambolic February 25th elections that turned out to be an anti climax vis-a-vis their failed promise to use the electronic technology for the uploading of results. The election is a ‘bastardized’ one already; it has lost credibility. None of the top three fellow candidates in the election has accepted INEC’s ‘highly compromised’ results. They are now trying to force Tinubu’s purported victory down the throat of Nigerians. Tinubu will struggle to have legitimacy for the 4-year period should they go ahead to swear him in. With lots of hanky-panky around the ‘timing’ of the announcement of the winner – when most Nigerians were asleep – and the ‘speed of light’ manner of the presentation of the certificate of return to Tinubu leaves much to be desired. PMB is washing our dirty linen in public. Our battered image has been made worse in the last two weeks by this fraudulent election. Tinubu didn’t win the election. He is an impostor and a charlatan. He is a creation of PMB and Yakubu. He stands rejected as president-elect by a large majority of Nigerians. Once again, shame unto PMB, shame onto Yakubu.
-Mike, Mushin Lagos, +234 816 111 4572
Dear Casmir, as we celebrate shame of a nation we cry out over sham franchise worse than that of Africana nationalism in the apartheid South Africa. One day Nigeria may have to invite the United Nations to conduct her elections and from there lose her sovereignty.
-Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, March 13, 2023