By Abanikanda Olumoro (United Kingdom)
Lagos State, as a very highly hospitable community, deserves to be supported by all of us who have had our life achievements sourced from and tied to it. That support is more needed now that the poverty level among its indigenes has reached its peak. To the extent of the hospitable nature of the indigenes of Lagos, you saw people traveling from what used to be called Ilu Oke (meaning Yoruba communities of other South West states), accommodated, fed with good food, had their trades aided, provided befitting shelters, and offered more.
The Lagos indigenes never had cause to feel shortchanging themselves for being the nice hosts to those non-indigenes until two decades ago, when Oore (humanity) started to be turned to crime as, among those that had been recipients of the good heartedness of the Lagos indigenes, there have been some Atohunrinwa (non-indigenes) who have now claimed to be more powerful than the owners of the land. And through the ethnic sentiment concocted by Abraham Adesanya-led Afenifere on the eve of the return of democracy in 1999 in carhoot with few black sheep lurking around the Lagos families of old, they seized the power of state they constitutionally do notown, to occupy and have continued to unlawfully hold on to it till present while labouring unsuccessfully to distort traditional and family histories of Lagos to justify their actions.
To that extent, we would say the investment of Lagos indigenes in strangers, by being hospitable, have not paid off, therefore, because what has happened to the indugenes by those persons, therefore, cannot happen in their own respective states. In their narratives, they claim there is no need to talk about indigeneship because Lagos State is cosmopolitican society. A quick reply to that is, every state of Nigeria is cosmopolitan by the design of Constitution which says no Nigerian should be restrained from living and doing business in any part of Nigeria. But the same Nigeria’s Constitution emphasises the position of indigeneship which solves the issues around the need for creation of state and who should be recgonised by law as the rightful owners of the given state.
When Nigeria was operated on the administrative ground of Northern and Southern Protectorates, Lagos (a name formed from Portuguese language for ‘Lakes Area’) was distinct independently as Colony of Lagos. The development that the world brought to Nigeria was berthed in Lagos and the White found a peace to establish growth,, development and civilisation therein even as they lived amicably with the indigenes, leave the interest of westernism apart. By the time amalgamation took place and Northern and Southern Protectorates were merged to provide easier administration for colonial masters, Lagos was still the Colony of Lagos. Very distinct with pride. Moving forward from that to Independence when the country now split into three regions of Northern Region, Eastern Region and Western Region, Lagos was never part of the land area called Western Region as it was made the capital of Nigeria.
That had remained the situation of things with Lagos with regard to other Yoruba speaking South West until, under that military regime of General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, successor to the first military rulership of General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the need arose to further split the country along the regional level as each region was split into states with powers of the nation already taken via unitary system to the Federal. In 1967 therefore, Western Region was split into four states. It should be of note that even at that, Lagos was still treated distinctively as it was given its own state by law except that certain parts of old Western Region was brought to join with and they include Ikeja Division, Badagry Division, Ikorodu Division and Epe Division including the Ibeju-Lekki area to form Lagos State and indigenes of Lagos State are essentially anyone confirmed to be son or daughter of the soil from these areas mentioned.
Anyone outside of it is not indigenes. And Ikeja Division covers Agege, Ojodu, Alimosho up to the boundary with Ogun State while Epe Dvision covers up to Ibeju to the point of contact with Ondo State on the waterside and Badagry Division covers all the land areas to boundary with Ogun State on the Yewa area and Republic of Benin by the Ceme Border. There are Yoruba in Republic of Benin, whose boundary is directly with Lagos State and speak the same Language with Lagos especially Egun people too but they never came to struggle the ownership of Lagos with Lagos State indigeness.
It is therefore hilarious that from within Nigeria where everyone understands what the Constitution says about state creation as way to bring administration and development closer to the people on their own land, those who are doing this great desservice to Lagos State indigenes are people of other South West states, who speak the same Language with the Lagos people. And since they got that unholy opportunity to enter the power of the state and there has been no court bold enough to send them packing, they have run the administration of the state the way it pleased them and no one has been able to hold them accountable on how they do it. However, from among the indigenes, a group of individuals have started standing up and they include among others those of Omo Eko Pataki which Chief Olabode George, a Retired Navy Commodore and former Military Governor of Old Ondo State as Chairman; its Trustee in Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd), a former Commander Nigerian Army Corp of Artillery, former General Officer Commanding Third Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, and former Minister of Communications of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and chieftain in Mr. Gbadebo Dallas, the astute banker and former Managing Director of the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB).
Recently another equally powerful but non-political Lagos indigenes group debuted in DE RENAISSANCE PATRIOTS, which also has General Olanrewaju as its Protem Chairman, Mr. Taofeek Yomi Tokosi, another successful banker former bank managing director as its Protem Secretary, Prince Adelani Adeniji-Adele as its Coordinator with several other leaders including Retired Police Commissioner, auditing and economics experts as members. Other Lagos State indigenes who are now standing up to their rights are those in the political circle which include Mr. Funsho Doherty, who contested on the platform of Africa Democratic Congress (ADC) for the Governorship of Lagos State in the March 18, 2023 election as well as Architect Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (Labour Party Governorship Candidate) and AbdulAzeez Adeniran (Peoples Democratic Party Governorship Candidate).
These indigenes have woken up to the charge of wanting back their state and rights as Nigerians who are entitled good living like fellow Yoruba in other South West states from where people came to deprive them on their own land in state. WE MUST RISE UP TO SUPPORT THEM. Yes! Their sons and daughters are not being gainfully employed in the Civil Service of the own state yet people from other South West states who dominate the public service of the state have alternatives of such employment in their own respective states. Omo Yayi after several years of occupying the slots of Lagos West as Nigerian Senator in Abuja was finally deployed to now go and contest for the Senate in his own Ogun State and he is currently in Abuja but as Senator of different state other than Lagos.
His deployment was by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has made this impossible possible for the South West Yoruba in the last 24 years depriving the rightful owners of Lagos. The same Tinubu is now at the topmost office of Custodian of the Constitution in Abuja as President of Nigeria. People feared him for his popularity for using non-state actors against opposition while reigning tough in Lagos. But, anyone who will use the power of state to witch-hunt opposition should watch it because end-result will not show pity any wicked soul. Anyone who wants to justify the insanity going on against the indigenes of Lagos State must prove it from the point of law. And anyone who wants to impress his indigeneship of Lagos State on the law must freely do that with proofs of traditional and family histories. All will be well. There will be no need to ask what is Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty Alhaji Ridwan Akiolu I is doing about this. When we get to the bridge, we should be able to cross it. Oba t’o je lanaa, aye nso nipa re (history forgets no one in position), how Oba Akinolu wants history of Nigeria to speak of him with regard to his effort to supporting his own Lagos indigenes regain their state remains on how he lays it down today.
Moving forward, for over 24 years since return of democracy on May 29, 1999, there had been no time the administration of Lagos State has been so challenged and held accountable to take Fiscal responsibility like now. Indisputable records have shown that the state has remained under one man, even several years after leaving office as governor but still remaining in a cult-like grip by which he controls the fortunes, singlehandedly takes charge of every sharing of the state’s benefits, economically and politically.
This he does even to the ignoring of indigenes, who cry daily as his overlord continues to deprive, disenfranchise and marginalise them, thus placing the the rightful indigenous owners under his own arrangement of imposed non-indigenes, who are neither of Igbo nor Hausa-Fulani extractions but, strictly, fellow Yoruba of South West states ostensibly orchestrated by him in his attempt to change the narrative of Lagos.
By the way he governs even while being in power as governor for 24 years minus his own eight years of the Nigeria’s 24 years democratic dispensation of the ongoing Fourth Republic, he has continued to systematically push the Lagos indigenes out of their own constitutionally granted state and culturally owned land for the over two decades.
As for the Yoruba from other South West states, who are allowing themselves to be involved in this occupation and displacement that is going on in Lagos State, tomorrow, the Yoruba adage itself says, today will become yesterday and they will all see. But in the meantime, there should be no reason for any Nigerian court especially the Federal High Court to turn death ears to the cries of these Lagos indigenes for justice all these years their case has remained unfinished before it.
The plight of Lagos indigenes is not in any distance from the case of occupied Gaza Strip where Israeli zionist government has been committing genocide for the past over 70 years. Between the October 7, 2023 resistance attacks by Hamas on the oppressor – Israel – and the time few days ago when a truce was eventually reached albeit uncertain, these occupiers had killed over 14,000 innocent Palestinians mainly women and children including the unborn for no other than the reason of insistence of those rightful owners of the land saying “This is our land, we have no other place to go and we will not leave.”
Israel knows that the land does not belong to it, that until 1945 there was nothing like the State of Israel and yet the United Nations Organisation under the Britain at the time only brought them to settle in a small portion of the land but it wants to force itself on the people of the land because it relies on power of technological weapons. Today, the world has seen the aggressive oppressor, even the terrorism in Israel and Palestine is vindicated.
Same way, Lagos State and its rightful owners the indigenes will be vindicated and this time is the hour because, there is no one anywhere in Nigeria, who will justify the kind of hypocrisy of evils that people who claim to be Yoruba in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo are perpetrating against their fellow Yoruba of Lagos whereby, when they are supposed to be grateful for being accommodated to make their fortunes in the former Colony seat of power, they have for 24 years struggled to push the rightful owners of the land into extinction while using the power and economy of the people to achieve that.
It is not as if the indigenes have not complained or have no courage to talk but each time they ever did, it was to the cost of lives and these were done through third party called the non-state actors being empowered by the same structure and who are now the mediocre and hoodlums in charge of transportation and market centres of the supposedly Centre of Excellence. List has been drawn of indigenes who have lost their lives as result of effort to assert their rightful position on their own land of Lagos State and that list include mainly Engr Funsho Williams, whose murder case up till today is yet to be concluded.
This pushed many Lagos indigenes who have been scared into sabotaging the efforts of others to accept directive of the occupiers. But can these fellows kill the entire Lagos indigenes and continue to take over their properties like they have done and the world will continue to pretend not to see? The world at that time will be an unjust place. Nigeria must show gratitude the indigenes of Lagos State by coming to speak out on their plights in the hands of their fellow Yoruba states indigenes who want them extincted from their own land. Because if you see injustice being done to other now and you fail to stand up against that injustice, when it happens to you tomorrow, you will find no one to help you. Lagos indigenes do not see Igbo or Hausa or Fulani as their problem. They surely see Yoruba, who are only indigenes of other states of South West but have now assumed that Lagos is land that belongs to all Yoruba states but no other state of the South West belongs to all Yoruba States like they think of Lagos. This is injustice of man to man that must be stopped at all cost. We are not happy in the Diaspora where we are because we see disgusting hypocrisy where those that helped us actualise our dreams in, the Lagos indigenes, are now being paid back with evils.
In our growing-up days, we saw Lagos as our immediate destination of choice after secondary school, anywhere we were in Old Oyo, Old Ondo, or Ogun State. Not even Papa Awolowo gave us the impression that Lagos was his rightful land or state under cultural rights. We came to Lagos to hustle, and then we were blessed, and we got married. We still have our own states to fall back to after making our wealth and opportunities in Lagos. The likes of Papa Oba Olu Falae came to Lagos, became Managing Director of First Merchant Bank (am I right?), then became Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Minister of Finance, and built his house on Victoria Island, but at the end of the day, he knew that home is home, so he returned to his Akure, Ondo State, country home. Same Papa Awolowo, same Papa Adekunle Ajasin, who was coming to Lagos as a Federal Parliamentarian and returning to Owo to do his job as Principal of Imade College, and many more instances They all left Lagos State for the owners of Lagos, the likes of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Sir Michael Otedola, and other Lagos indigenes who were in charge of their states until Tinubu came in 1999 through the abracadabra orchestrated – perhaps by money inducement—by Papa Abraham Adesanya now late.
Tired of all the anomalies going on in their Lagos, one of the indigenes, a blue blood son of the soil with high calibre of sagacity cum intelligence who was one of three leading indigenous lights that contested for governorship in the March 18, 2023 election, Mr. Funsho Doherty, broke the jinx against the old normal whereby only one person would sit down and decide the fate of Lagos with confidence that no one can hold him accountable. Doherty, by the exposition of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu’s approvals of funds lately, has challenged that two decades of indefensible overlord. Lagos owners know well that Sanwo-Olu does not work for himself but because he is the person that is on the Constitution-recognised seat of power in the state, he has been faced with the challenge of transparency and accountability now coming with indisputable facts and figures from Doherty (ADC) and the other two indigenous governorship contestants namely Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (LP) and AbdulAzeez Adesanya a.k.a. Jandor (PDP).
Essentially, that was what Funsho Doherty did when he exposed the huge non-charlant misappropriation that had been perpetrated by Sanwo-Olu, an Ijebu, Ogun State born and fellow non-indigenous Yoruba man installed as governor of Lagos by the “almighty” remote controller now in Abuja. He was being exposed by owners of the state, as explained in the Doherty’s statement as he was caught in the act of spending their money against their will.
Frankly speaking, Lagos is the only state of the Nigerian federation where people with no constitutional rights of ownership have gotten through shoddy means to administration and have continued to deprive, marginalise, persecute and impoverish the rightful owners to the extent that for many years, the indigenes cries before Federal High Court in Lagos to declare their (non-indigenes) actions unconstitutional and retrieve their (indigenes) state ownership for them have continued to be dragged on the ground with no intention of the presiding judge to give it a decisive mention and justice, thus denied persistently.
While they will not continue to sit and make no effort, the indigenes under the OmoEko Pataki, talked but were continuously ignored until after the “lord”of occupied Lagos rose to become President in Abuja and, through his cronies, fellow Lagos indigenes like the ones packed into what he calls the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) were and are still used to sabotage indligenes’ effort of getting their own land and state back in shape as peaceful and doing well state that it had always been since creation in 1967 even from the 1830s Lagos Colony days until 1999 when the now President Bola Ahmed Tinubu came to happen to it in 1999. The De Renaissance Patriots was right.
What GAC, led by Papa Tajudeen Olusi, has done to the Lagos cause is to carjoe the OmoEko Pataki from criticising Tinubu especially now that he is President with nothing being done to address their pangs, pains and agonies. Because of poverty he has inflicted on them having sacked over 10,000 of them from the Lagos State civil service as a deliberate policy of imposing non-indigenes on the state in 2001 as governor, many Lagos indigenes who agreed to dump the indigeneship cause and switch to his camp at Bourdillon are not even better off as they are made to do cap-in-hand to strangers in control of their own constitutional owned state and warehoused, if necessary.
For reason of the above and more, although not a member of the OmoEko Pataki that is headed by Chief Olabode George, with Major Geberal Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd) as trustee, and Mr. Gbadebo Dallas and chieftain, Mr Doherty who also is within his rights to fight for Lagos, came on air and let the cats out of the bags and the world now see why Lagos indigenes are crying that those forced on them as government leaders are spending their wealth as they like either to benefit themselves or take it back home in their own states of South West to develop their own develop leaving Lagos with no option.
He said Sanwo-Olu, an Ijebu Mushin, Ogun State born Lagos governor approved N2 billion for his fellow Ogun State born deputy governor as money for rechargeable lamps and fans; N30 million for his wife’s monthly outreach for indigent citizens plus anothe4 N30 million monthly for her empowerment programmes; N18 million for the Chief of Staff to distribute broiler chickens across all local government areas of the state; N440.7 million for one SUV bulletproof car into the pool of the governor; N531 million for the renovation of a church research has shown used to be attended by the governor’s uncle, whose house in Lagos used to be decorated in the front face with cemented inscription clearly shown as “Baba Ijebu Mushin Villa” in his days and with whom he lived.
What is more? The governor was also exposed as having spent N200 million of the money owned by indigenes of Lagos State, despite not being non-indigene that when court comes back to normal justice delivery will one day be made to pay for all he earned as unlawful governor of a state he does not belong to, and he doesn’t that on pre-election matters.
Another of the three indigenous Governorship Candidates, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, also took the time out to put the governor in the public place for spending N200 million on legal fees for cases that had nothing to do with Lagos State and its taxpayers other than the personality of the spender and its political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and, per adventure, his political godfather who put him there as what many would call proxy. Evidently, these facts and figures are said to have been obtained from website of the Lagos State government itself. So, to whatever extent Governor Sanwo-Olu and his Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho have gone to deny the allegations and defend the state government, it has been all efforts in futility because those who alleged have provided evidence to back up their claims.
If there is any shame for now, any non-indigene in office as governor, deputy governor, speaker or as commission and who is coming out to trying to counter the Lagos indigenes for complaining that their state monies are being spent prodigally, should first screen himself: “Am I qualified to really face these complainers? They have every bit of history to support their indigeneship of Lagos State and owners of the land. Do I have same? Is it really proper? Can a Lagos indigene be allowed to contest for the governorship office I am in their own state now in my own Ogun State or other Yoruba States of Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo?” Before you pinch fellow human with a needle, first do it unto yourself, then you will never want to try.
Abanikanda Olumoro wrote from London, UK.