Two months after the Lagos State Government purportedly deported some destitute from the state to Onitsha, Anambra State, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) today tendered an unreserved apology for the misunderstanding that greeted the action.
The state government was accused of dumping 70 beggars at Onitsha Bridge in the wee hours of July 24, a situation that generated public outcry and bad blood between members of the Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups.
Gov. Fashola, who spoke at the silver jubilee of the Igbo socio-cultural think tank, Aka Ikenga held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Victoria Island, debunked speculations that he held Igbos in contempt.
He noted that the largest herds of cattle he received when his father died was from the Igbos.
Fashola said: “I came here to say to thank you for the honour done to my family and the memory of my late father.
“People, who clearly do not understand the actions taken and words spoken are those I owe an explanation. I cannot take the Igbos for granted because we have built a relationship based on tolerance, mutual respect, love and trust. That relationship was built by our ancestors and I put a lot of value in that relationship.
“I offer an unreserved apology if the actions taken had been misunderstood.
“But I think the basic issue Aka Ikenga must address is why people feel compelled to immigrate from one part of the country to the other? Is it the case that some lack the resources to develop or perhaps some parts are endowed with enormous resources but not adequately managed?
“How can development be so difficult from the zone that has produced people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alex Ekwueme, Ike Nwachukwu, among others?
“As political storm gathers, there are contact spots but like in football, contact spots have rules. Those who are victims of our shortcomings as professionals in and out of government should not be pounced.
“A day like these calls for deep reflection about issues of our loyalties. Are we more Igbo than Nigeria or we are more Nigeria than Igbo?”
The governor called on residents in the state to embrace the Residence Registration Scheme (RRS) to enable the government meets its obligation to them.
The event was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Ayim, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan; House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Chief Emeka Ihedioha; Catholic Bishop, Hassan Mathew Kukah; former Minister, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu; President Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike; former Ambassador George Obiozor and President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Gary Enwo-Igariwey.
Others included the former President Aka Ikenga, Chief Chris Asodoka; Director, Lagos Business School, Prof. Pat Utomi; Captain Emma Iheanacho; Nollywood artistes, Onyeka Onwenu and Kanayo O. Kanayo.