Those who have lent their ears to the happenstances in the socio-political arena will agree with me that ever since the so called deportation of some persons (of common ancestral history) from one region of the country to another region, the centre has refused to hold again. The previous week was a hell of a week across the online and print media but obviously, it is the social media that has once again carried the matter on its “head” just as it has done in the past with the Child-Marriage saga, the Farouk-Otedola puzzle and a host of other topical issues too numerous to mention.
Ever since that avoidable event became news, I have studied from the background the reactions of the generality of those that have in one way or the other given ear to the matter either with the pen or viva-voce and to my dissatisfaction and utter dismay, I came to realize that in a manner quite characteristic of Nigerians, we have carefully and consciously overlooked the matter amiss, but have chosen to walk on its flanks wearing our regional aprons and regional lenses that in most cases prevent us from seeing issues the way we ought to perceive them. The consequence is: the problem has been allowed to remain where it is and instead of cleaning up the mess, we have continued to cry over the consequences. Instead of proffering lasting solutions, we have chosen rather to be aligned with our kinsmen to either justify or condemn the act of the one who fathered the whole ugly scenario– Babatubde Raji Fashola. Truly it is un-Nigerian of all of us.
I have also come to notice the punctuated silence of Mr. President and the members of our hallow chambers who have carefully and obviously warned not to be dragged into the matter through their media aides. On the contrary, they have allowed Nigerians to treat the matter in the way they know us too well to do while they go on their knees praying that another issue unfolds so that they will feed on the amnesia many of us suffer from. But for some reasons, this one has refused to just pass by, just like the Yerima outburst that preceded it, and continues to reverberate across the social media not without generating controversies and pitching up one group against the other. However, trust me they have their eyes fixated on the hands of time begging it to just turn a lit bit faster. That is Nigerian leaders for you and me. Or what better tool could they make do with? Anyway, that is not what led to the troubles of this article. Something else did.
Nigerians with this deportation saga have once again portrayed how separated they are along regional lines against the so-called unity except for a select few who have not allowed personal interests to come in the way of their reasoning. Men disciplined to a fault that they would rather set the truth free first before setting their fellow kinsman free. But how few they are in our numbers!
It got so worse that even men who commanded the respect and admiration of people like me also threaded such path of infamy. The Femi Fani Kayode’s and Orji Uzor Kalu’s but more of the former, with their recent articles have shown that despite their intellect, exposure and finesse still haven’t shred off the feathers of regionalism that most a time obscure common sense and give way to emotions to be the interlocutors of reasoning.
They did that so well that the social media has come to christen them the major actors in the ‘battle’ just the way we had Ojukwu and Gowon during the Biafra war. The average Yoruba man has supported everything Femi Fani Kayode has said in his two articles on the said issue and this can be gleaned from the comments coming from those articles which I took time to go through. The Igbo man on the other hand sitting in front of his stall at Ladipo Market and yonder, won’t find fault with whatever the Chairman of Njiko Igbo Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has said so far in his Leadership Series of 10th August 2013. But in all of it, if Kalu is worthy of our condemnation, I think it is Kayode who deserves more as he is the one who stirred the hornets’ nest by bringing the wrong connotation into the matter when he betrayed common logic and alleged that Lagos state was developed by the Southwest in his article, “Lagos, the Igbo and the servants of Truth”. Even though he alleged that the article was informed by a tip off he got to the effect that, “it is the Igbo’s who constitute a great number of the Lagos population who should take the credit for whatever the city may be today and thus shouldn’t have been subjected to such inhuman treatment by the Lagos state governor”.
I expected Femi Fani Kayode to display uncommon sagacity as a person who undoubtedly is well read and who understands Nigeria enough to know that such statement as to who helped in developing or under developing a place and so on and so forth cannot be coming from well nurtured minds and thus dismiss same. But to my quagmire, he showed that he lacks self-control (I hate to be taciturn) and made matters worse when he brought that inciting article to press which has today earned too many rejoinders from left, right and center. Whether Kayode was trying to appeal to the sympathy of the West or not, that is not what I am concerned about here but people like me thinks that he should have stayed within the scope of the issue by condemning or justifying Fashola’s act vis-à-vis the constitution of the country instead of steering that middle course which has the tenacity of smacking off regional strife between the Igbo’s of the hinterland and the Yoruba’s. If for any reason Fashola goofed, methinks his act is pardonable but Kayode,’s was a calculated attempt to turn one region of the country against another and thus must be condemned. That is obviously not the best way to act. If anything, it brings to the fore how separated we are along ethnic differences the level of civilization notwithstanding.
Whether Igbo’s helped to develop Lagos or otherwise, how does it stop a sitting governor from doing that which he deems fit to do with the people’s mandate? As far as I am concerned, doing so will be akin to asking the governor not to prosecute an Igbo man who commits a simple offence because the Igbo’s has helped Lagos to where it is today. This obviously will be devoid of any logic and thus, should not command the reactions of a sane thinking individual. In like manner, I had expected Femi Kayode to disregard such insinuations and stay within the confines of the issues in controversy for to do otherwise, makes him no better than the peddlers of such jaundiced remarks who prima facie, means no good for this nation. If some 67, 72, 14, some even said 19 Igbo’s were deported from Lagos to Onitsha by Fashola, he should be questioned on the basis of how he violated the provisions of sections 34, 35 and 41of our constitution as I canvassed in my article on the protracted matter via this medium and not being crucified on the cross of regional sentiments. It doesn’t speak well of us.
Femi Fani Kayode’s journey into history to justify how Lagos state was built by the resources and intellect of the southwest to the best of my knowledge is the height of egocentrism. It wasn’t called for at any length. He said and I quote, “The Igbo had little to do with the extraordinary development of Lagos between 1880 right up until today. That is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer village, Alaba and buying numerous market stalls in Isale Eko, where and what is their impact……”
His counterpart(s) from the south east has also travelled into time like Hiro Nakamura in the TV series- heroes, to show how Lagos wouldn’t have been what it is today but for the investments of the pioneering Igbo Business magnates like Sir. Louis Philippe Ojukwu who some said, owes a better part of Lagos even till today and so many other accounts of how the markets that attract humongous revenue to the Lagos state coffers were all built by the Igbo’s and such accounts may continue ad infinitum. In all of it, I don’t see such reasoning to come from persons who have suckled their mother’s breasts for some six months. It is only those driven by regional sentiments and who scarcely understands the spirit and character of our nationhood that will enlist their names in such ignominy.
To drive home further, the fact that we are bluntly divided along ethno religious lines to the injury, I also noticed how our northern and Muslim brothers clearly exempted themselves from the issue in controversy unlike how they did a fortnight ago when Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima was in the middle of the morass. As I write, I am yet to set my eyes on a Newspaper back page column where a columnist from the north commented on the issue. Conversely, they have somehow given it an “I don’t care” attitude. It doesn’t concern the north, it doesn’t affect the Hausa man as it were; so let the Yoruba’s and their Igbo counterparts take a swipe at each other, who gives a damn?
What I make out of the whole scenario is that we still don’t understand what is wrong with each and every one of us. While we blame our leaders every now and again, we have never for once been united even in the most trifle of issues that affect us as individuals and as citizens. It is unfortunate how our leaders pitch us against one another at the slightest opportunity but amidst that all, we have shown to be a people who are nothing more but ethnic chauvinists. The Igbo man still sees the Yoruba man as the cause of all his woes, the Yoruba man on the other hand see the Igbo man as a cheat and an opportunist. Abdul the Hausa business man still feels more comfortable when he does business with Chinedu than he is, with Kayode. Okpoga from Benue, state still sees himself as a maid even in his fatherland. Ebuka, the motor-park boy at Onitsha still sees an average Hausa passenger as a Boko Haram member and Abdullahi still sees Ifeanyi as an ‘unbeliever’ because he does not worship in the same place with him. He calls him at his back an ‘arna’ and so these divisions along ethno religious borders continue in torrents.
We are not ready to make advancement until we have decided to come together and define our unity and live as one indissoluble and indivisible sovereign nation under God as the preamble to our constitution will have us understand. Our YES should always be a YES when it ought to, and our NO should also be a resounding NO in condemning any evil, irrespective of how our kinsman may be affected. What we poo poo in Abiola’s cause, may we not condone in Ali’s case and what we frown at in ifeanyi’s cause, we should not justify in Osaheme’s cause with the beauty of language or for have been well read.
Only thence shall we begin to live and interact as a people and also see things bounded by a common interest and not the usual parochial ones.
God bless Nigeria.
The writer is a Law student. He is on twiiter as @yung_silky