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Monday, 11 March 2019

Is Lagos Truly a No-Man's Land

As Lagosians await the results of the just concluded gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections, I would like to share my thoughts on a burning topical issue leading up to the elections. And what might that issue be? The tribal Yoruba-Igbo dichotomy that says that Lagos state is no man's land!!!

There have been many heated debates and arguments, especially on social media on this issue causing divisions and even hatred amongst neighbours, friends, colleagues at work, business partners. This is particularly worrisome as elections come and go, but these strained associations and relationships will remain.

The two main schools of thoughts are:

  •  that Lagos state is historically and traditionally Yoruba-land considering that the early settlers, the Awori people, were of Yoruba extraction. Therefore no non-indigenous persons with particular reference to the ethnic Igbos have a right to elective offices. Furthermore that the Igbos have their own homelands where no ethnic Yoruba has an elected office.

  • The Igbos, however, claim that they have contributed massively to the making of Lagos state as a centre of Trade and Commerce, pay their taxes to the Lagos state government; have lived most of their adult life in Lagos, given birth to and raised their children in Lagos, some of whom are married to Yoruba offspring etc. So by birth and by naturalisation, they consider themselves as Lagosians and therefore should aspire to contest for elective offices. 

My Thoughts 

1) My background

I was born and bred in Lagos State. My late father was a native of Ile-Ife in Osun state whilst my mum is from 'Isale-Eko' in Lagos Island. Asides from when I was at school during my secondary and tertiary education which were outside Lagos, I have lived most of life in Lagos. I am currently married and doing my businesses here in Lagos. So by birth, naturalisation and marriage, I AM A LAGOSIAN. And if I am considered and accepted as a Lagosian, then ANYONE who was born in and/or naturalised in Lagos SHOULD ALSO BE REGARDED AS A LAGOSIAN regardless of whatever their surname is.

2) The Constitution 

The Nigerian constitution provides for every Nigerian to settle and live in ANY part of the country as they please. We are entitled to live anywhere in the country (Lagos inclusive) without fear of intimidation.

3) Cosmopolitan  Lagos 

Lagos being a cosmopolitan city is a melting pot of diverse ethnic cultures and languages. These include but not limited to the Yorubas, Igbos, Efiks, Urhobos, Isokos, Calabaris, Hausas, Fulanis, Ishans, Binis, Tivs, Igalas, Idomas... even Indians and the Chinese! This diverseness of peoples and cultures which gives Lagos its cosmopolitan appeal and nature was greatly enhanced when the Lagos was named the capital city of Nigeria in 1914. She retained her capital city status until 1999. Different ethnic tribes trooped into Lagos in search of greener pastures. Most of them settled and lived in peace in Lagos, with very few returning back to their homelands. That peaceful coexistence should continue. 
Furthermore, that same cosmopolitan nature suggests that Lagos is home to not just the Yorubas and Igbos but other ethnic nationalities as well. It makes me wonder why its just these two tribes that are feuding.

4) A little bit of history 

As stated earlier, the earliest inhabitants in Lagos were the Aworis. They settled in Epe and are the traditional landlords of Lagos. They crowned Ado, a stooge of the Bini Kingdom, as the first Oba (king) of Lagos (then called Eko).

That began the lineage of thee Obas of Lagos culminating in the current Oba, Rilwan Akiolu who ascended the throne in 2003.
I'm of the opinion that the traditional institution with respect to kingship in Lagos State is the exclusive preserve of its native Yorubas and shouldn't be tampered with. However elective positions should be open to all especially those who were born and/or naturalised in Lagos. If the Igbos or any other ethnic group are good enough to earn a living, pay taxes in Lagos, then they should be equally good enough to vote and be voted for into elective offices. Its my firm belief that the above principle should hold not only in Lagos but in all states of the federation.

5) So is Lagos truly a no-man's land?

From my narratives above, it is very clear that the Aworis of Yoruba extraction are the original landlords of Lagos being the earliest inhabitants. Other ethnic tribes including the Igbos have over the years contributed to the development of Lagos and have given her the cosmopolitan appeal. Their immense contributions notwithstanding does not confer the rights of ownership of Lagos to the Igbos or any other ethnic group nor warrant calling Lagos a No-Man's Land. I'm of the opinion that Lagos should be referred to as the Home of All instead of the present No-Man's Land.

In conclusion, the above narrative summarise my thoughts on the above subject matter. Please feel very free to express yours. Do kindly respect my opinions as well as every other opinion expressed on this blog post. Name-callings and hate speeches either directly or implied are strongly discouraged.  Let's stop the hatred and bitterness. Instead let brotherly love continue...Thank you.

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  1. Femi Deolu Amusan11 March 2019 at 16:54

    Succinctly put. It's just normal for a Nigerian to naturalize in any part of the country. However, it's true that a yoruba can never vie for a position in the east and win - its like the sky being burgundy. But then again, lagos is metropolitan and therefore should give allowance for running for public positions by Nigerians from other states or tribes. My two cents.

    1. Very vaiid two cents I dare say. Thank you very much for your comments Femi.


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