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Why The Igbos Are Not Allowed To Share Lagos State With Yorubas- Femi Fani Kayode

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Why The Igbos Are Not Allowed To Share Lagos State With Yorubas- Femi Fani Kayode Empty Why The Igbos Are Not Allowed To Share Lagos State With Yorubas- Femi Fani Kayode

Post by SKOOKID on Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:41 pm

Why The Igbos Are Not Allowed To Share Lagos State With Yorubas- Femi Fani Kayode Femi-Fani-Kayode1

Permit me to make my second and final
contribution to the raging debate about Lagos,
who owns it and the seemingly endless
tensions that exist between the igbo and the
yoruba. It is amazing how one or two of the
numerous nationalities that make up Nigeria
secretly wish that they were yoruba and
consistently lay claim to Lagos as being partly
theirs. Have they forgotten where they came
from? I have never heard of a yoruba wanting
to give the impression to the world that he is an
igbo, an ijaw, an efik or a hausa-fulani or
claiming that he is a co-owner of Port Harcourt,
Enugu, Calabar, Kano or Kaduna. Yet more
often than not some of those that are not of
yoruba extraction but that have lived in Lagos
for some part of their lives have tried to claim
that they are bona fide Lagosians and honorary
members of the yoruba race. Clearly it is time
for us to answer the nationality question. These
matters have to be settled once and for all.
Lagos and the south west are the land and the
patrimony of the yoruba and we will not allow
anyone, no matter how fond of them we may
be, to take it away from us or share it with us in
the name of ”being nice”, ”patriotism”, ”one
Nigeria” or anything else. The day that the
yoruba are allowed to lay claim to exactly the
same rights and privilages that the indegenous
people in non-yoruba states and zones enjoy
and the day they can operate freely and
become commissioners and governors in the
Niger Delta states, the north, the Middle Belt
and the south-east we may reconsider our
position. But up until then we shall not do so.
Lagos is not a ”no-man’s land” but the land and
heritage of the yoruba people. Others should
not try to claim what is not theirs.

I am not involved in this debate for fun or for
political gain and I am not participating in it to
play politics but rather to speak the truth, to
present the relevant historical facts to those
that wish to learn and to educate the
uninformed. That is why I write without fear or
favour and that is why I intend to be thoroughly
candid and brutally frank in this essay. And I am
not too concerned or worried about what
anyone may think or how they may feel about
what I am about to say because I am a servant
of truth and the truth must be told no matter
how bitter it is and no matter whose ox is
gored. That truth is as follows.

The yoruba, more than any other nationality in
this country in the last 100 years, have been far
too accomodating and tolerant when it comes
to their relationship with other nationalities in
this country and this is often done to their own
detriment. That is why some of our igbo
brothers and sisters can make some of the sort
of asinine remarks and contributions that a few
of them have been making in this debate both
in the print media and in numerous social
media portals and networks ever since
Governor Fashola ”deported” 19 igbo destitutes
back to Anambra state. In the last 80 years the
igbo have been shown more generosity,
accomodation, warmth and kindness and given
more opportunities and leverage by the yoruba
than they have been offered by ANY other
ethnic group in Nigeria. This is a historical fact.
The yoruba do not have any resentment for the
igbo and we have allowed them to do in our
land and our territory what they have never
allowed us to do in theirs. This has been so for
80 long years and it is something that we are
very proud of.

As I said elsewhere recently, to be
accomodating and generous is a mark of
civilisation and it comes easily to people that
once had empires. The reason why many of
our people take strong exception to the
apparant outrage of the igbo over this
”deportation” issue and the provocative
comments of my friend and brother Chief Orji
Uzor Kalu when he described Lagos as being a
”no man’s land” is because the igbo have not
only taken us for granted but they have also
taken liberty for licence.

We cannot be expected to tolerate or accept
that sort of irreverant and unintelligent rubbish
simply because we still happen to believe in
”one Nigeria” and we will not sacrifice our rights
or prostitute our principles on the alter of that
”one Nigeria”. Whether Nigeria is one or not,
what is ours is ours and no-one should test our
resolve or make any mistake about that. ”One
Nigeria” yes but no-one should spit in our faces
or covet our land, our treasure, our success,
our history, our virtues, our being and our
heritage and attempt to claim those for
themselves simply because we took them in on
a rainy day. It is that same attitude of ”we own
everything”, ”we must have everything” and ”we
must control everything” that the igbo settlers
manifested in the northern region in the late
50′s and early and mid-60′s that got them into
so much trouble up there with the hausa fulani
and that eventually led to the terrible pogroms
where almost one hundred thousand of them
were killed in just a few days.

Again it is that same attitude that they
manifested in Lagos and the Western Region in
the late ’30′s and the early and mid-40′s that
alienated the yoruba from them, that led to the
establishment of the Action Group in April,
1951 and that resulted in the narrow defeat of
Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe in the Western Regional
elections of December, 1951. As a matter of fact
they were the ones that FIRST introduced
tribalism into southern politics in 1945 with the
unsavoury comments of Mr. Charles Dadi
Onyeama who was a member of the Central
Legislative Council representing Enugu and
who said at the Igbo State Union address that
”the domination of Nigeria and Africa by the
igbo is only a matter of time”. This single
comment made in that explosive and historic
speech did more damage to southern Nigerian
unity than any other in the entire history of our
country and everything changed from that
moment on.

To make matters worse, in July 1948 Chief
Nnamdi Azikiwe made his own openly tribal
and incendiary speech, again at the Igbo State
Union, in which he spoke about the ”god of the
igbo” eventually giving them the leadership of
Nigeria and Africa. These careless and
provocative words cost him dearly and put a
nail in the coffin of the NCNC in the Western
Region from that moment on. This was despite
the fact that that same NCNC, which was easily
the largest and most powerful political party in
Nigeria at the time, had been founded and
established by a great and illustrious son of the
yoruba by the name of Mr. Herbert Macauly.

Macauly, like most of the yoruba in his day, saw
no tribe and he happily handed the leadership
of the party over to Azikiwe, an igbo man, in
1945 when he was on his dying bed. How much
more can the yoruba do than that when it
comes to being blind to tribe? Can there be any
greater evidence of our total lack of racial
prejudice and tribal sentiments than that? If the
NCNC had been founded and established by an
igbo man would he have handed the whole
thing over to a yoruba on his death bed? I
doubt it very much.

Again when northern military officers
mutineed, effected their ”revenge coup” and
went to kill the igbo military Head of State,
General Aguiyi-Ironsi on July 29th 1966 in the
old Western Region, his host, the yoruba Col.
Fajuyi (who was military Governor of the
Western Region at the time), insisted that they
would have to kill him first before taking Aguiyi-
Ironsi’s life and the northern officers (led by
Major T.Y. Danjuma as he then was) promptly
obliged him by slaughtering him before killing
Aguiyi-Ironsi. How many igbos know about that
and how many times in our history have they
made such sacrifices for the yoruba? Would
Aguiyi-Ironsi, or any other igbo officer, have
stood for Fajuyi, or any other yoruba officer,
and sacrificed his life for him in the same way
that Fajuyi did had the roles been reversed? I
doubt it very much.

Yet instead of being grateful the igbo
continuously run us down, blame us for all
their woes, envy our educational advantages
and resent us deeply for our ability to excel in
the professions and commerce. Unlike them
we were never traders but we were (and still
are) industrialists and when it comes to the
professions we were producing lawyers,
doctors, accountants and university graduates
at least three generations before they ever did.
That is the bitter truth and they have been
trying to catch up with us ever since. For
example the first yoruba lawyer Christopher
Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the
English Bar in 1879 whilst the first igbo lawyer,
Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar
in 1937. Again the first yoruba medical
practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in
1875 from the University of Edinburgh whilst
the first igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu
Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish
University in 1935.

Yet despite all this and all that they have been
through over the years and despite their
terrible experiences in the civil war we are
witnessing that same attitude of ”we must
control all”, ”we must own all” and ”we must
have all” rearing its ugly head again today when
it comes to their attitude to the issue of the
deportations from Lagos state and when you
consider the comments of the Orji Kalu’s of this
world about the igbo supposedly ”owning
Lagos” with the yoruba and supposedly
”generating 55 per cent of the state’s revenue”.
It is most insulting. And I must say that it is
wrong and unfair for anyone to lay the blame
for the perenniel suspicion and underlying
tensions that lie between the two nationalities
on the yoruba because that is far from the

We are not the problem, they are. Pray tell me,
in the whole of Nigeria who treated the igbo
better than the yoruba after the civil war and
who gave them somewhere to run to where
they could regain all their ”abandoned
property” and feel at home again? Who
encouraged them to return to Lagos and the
west and who saved the jobs that they held
before the civil war for them to come back to
when the war ended? No other tribe or
nationality did all that for them in the country-
only the yoruba did so. And the people of the
old Mid-West and the Eastern minorities (who
make up the zone that is collectively known as
the ”south-south’ today) have always viewed
them with suspicion, have always
feared them and have always resented them

From the foregoing any objective observer can
tell that we the yoruba have always played our
part when it comes to accomodating others.

This is particularly so when it comes to the igbo
who we have always had a soft spot for and
who we have always regarded as brothers and
sisters. It is time that those ”others” also play
their part by acquiring a little more humility, by
knowing and accepting their place in the
scheme of things and by desisting from giving
the impression that they own our territory or
that they made us what we are.

Now let us look at a few historical facts and one
or two more igbo ”firsts’ that many may not be
familiar with to butress the point. The igbo
people were the FIRST to carry out a failed coup
on the night of Jan 15th, 1966 under the
leadership of Major Emmanuel Ifejuna, Major
Chukuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Major Christian
Anuforo, Capt. Ben Gbulie, Major Timothy
Onwatuegwu, Major Donatus Okafor, Capt.
Ude, Capt. Emmanuel Nwobosi, Captain
Udeaja, Lt. Okafor, Lt. Okocha, Lt. Anyafulu, Lt.
Okaka, Lt. Ezedigbo, Lt. Amunchenwa, Lt.
Nwokedi, 2nd Lt. J.C. Ojukwu, 2nd Lt. Ngwuluka,
2nd Lt. Ejiofor, 2nd Lt. Egbikor, 2nd Lt. Igweze,
2nd Lt. Onyefuru, 2nd Lt. Nwokocha, 2nd Lt.
Azubuogu and 2nd Lt. Nweke in which they
drew FIRST blood and openly slaughtered and
butchered leadiing politicians and army officers
from EVERY single zone in the country except
their own. I should also mention that even
though this was clearly an igbo coup there was
one yoruba officer who was amongst the
ringleaders by the name of Major Adewale

It was a very bloody night indeed. Amongst
those killed were the Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa
Balewa, the Premier of the Western Region,
Chief S.L. Akintola, the Premier of the Northern
Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Federal Minister
of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, Brigadier
Zakari Maimalari, Brigadier Samuel
Ademulegun, Colonel Ralph Shodeinde, Lt .
Colonel James Yakubu Pam, Lt. Colonel Abogo
Largema and numerous others. They did not
just kill these reverred and respected leaders
but in some cases they mocked, tortured and
maimed them before doing so, took pictures of
their dead and mutilated bodies and killed their
wives and children as well. For weeks after
these horrific acts were carried out the igbo
people rejoiced and celebrated them in the
streets and markets of the north, openly
displaying pictures and posters of the
Saurdana’s mutilated body with Nzeogwu’s
boot on his neck, loudly playing a famous and
deeply offensive anti-northern song in which
northerners were compared to goats and
listening to it on their radios, jubilating that they
had brought an end to what they described as
”northern rule and islamic domination” and
openly boasting that they themselves would
now ”rule Nigeria forever”. Though the first
coup failed the matter did not end there.

The very next day after the Jan.15th mutiny and
butchery had failed and did not result in
Ifejuna taking power in Lagos, the igbo people
set their ”plan B” in motion and they were the
FIRST to carry out a successful coup in Nigeria
just one day later on Jan. 17th 1966. This was
when the igbo Major-General J.T,U. Aguiyi-
Ironsi (who was Supreme Commander of the
Nigerian Army and who had inexplicably and
suspiciously not been murdered by the young
igbo officers in their violent mutiny and killing
spree the night before) in collusion with the
igbo Acting President Nwafor Orizu and the
entire igbo political leadership of that day,
invited the remnants of Sir Tafawa Balewa’s
cabinet to a closed door meeting, threatened
their lives and took power from them at the
point of a gun.

Aguiyi-Ironsi did not just ask them to give him
power but he took it from them by force by
telling them that he could not guarantee their
safety if they refused to do so. Meanwhile Orizu
point blank refused to do his duty as Acting
President and swear in Zana Bukar
Dipcharimma as the Acting Prime Minster when
the members of the cabinet and the British
Ambassador (who was also at the meeting)
implored him to do so since by that time there
was a power vacuum because the Prime
Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, had gone missing
and had probably been murdered. It was in
these very suspicious circumstances and as a
consequence of this murky and deep-seated
igbo conspiaracy that General Aguiyi-Ironsi
came to power. Amongst those that were
present at that famous ”meeting” that are still
alive today are Alhaji Maitama Sule, Chief
Richard Akinjide and President Shehu Shagari
who were all Ministers in Balewa’s cabinet .
Those that doubt the veracity of my account of
this meeting would do well to ask any of them
exactly what transpired during that encounter.
Yet the seeming success of the conspiracy was
short-lived. Only six months
later, on July 29th 1966, General Aguiyi-Ironsi
and no less than 300 igbo army officers reaped
the consequences of their actions and plot
when they were all slaughtered in just one
night during the northern officers revenge
coup which was led by Lt. Colonel Murtala
Mohammed, Major Abba Kyari, Captain Martins
Adamu, Major T.Y. Danjuma, Major Musa
Usman, Captain Joseph Garba, Captain Shittu
Alao, Captain Baba Usman, Captain Gibson
S.Jalo and Captain Shehu Musa Yar’adua as
they then were. Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon was
put in power by this group after that and a few
weeks later between September 29th 1966 and
the middle of October of that same year
approximately 50,000 igbo civilians were
attacked and slaughtered in a series of
horrendous pogroms in the north by violent
northern mobs as a reprisal for the killing of the
northern leaders, including Sir Ahmadu Bello,
the Saurdana of Sokoto, by Major Nzeogwu,
Major Ifejuna and other junior igbo officers on
the night of Jan. 15th 1966. Please note that
despite the fact that a number of yoruba
leaders were killed on that night as well no igbo
civilians were massacred anywhere in the west
by mobs in reprisal killings throughout that

The igbos understandably left the north in
droves after those terrible pogroms and fled
back to the east from whence they came. And
perhaps that would have been the end of ithe
story but for the fact that they also declared
secession and sought to dismember Nigeria.

They then made their biggest mistake of all by
provoking a full scale military conflict with
Nigeria when they launched a vicious and
unprovoked attack against the rest of the south
attacking and conscripting the eastern
minorities , storming the Mid-West and
attempting to enter yorubaland through Ore to
capture it. Thankfully they were stopped in their
tracks by the gallant efforts and courageous
fighting skills of the Third Marine Commando
(which was primarily a yoruba force and which
was under the command of the great Colonel
Benjamin Adekunle, ‘the Black Scorpion’),
prevented from entering the west, driven out of
the Mid-West, pushed back into the East,
defeated in battle after battle and were
eventually brought down to their knees and
forced to surrender to the Federal forces in

The igbo and their Biafra fought Nigeria and
killed Nigerians for 3 hard years in that brutal
civil war in which over one million courageous,
loyal and faithful sons and daughters of the
Federal Republic lost their lives at the war front
trying to stop Biafra from seceeding from the
federaration, from taking our land and from
taking the minority groups of the Mid-Western
Region and Eastern Region and our newly-
discovered oil with them. Yet despite our
massive casualties and the monuemental loss
of life that the Federal side suffered (a total of 2
million died on both sides) the igbo people
were welcomed back into Nigeria after the war
with open arms. Yet it was only in yorubaland
and especially in Lagos that they were given all
their ”abandoned property” back and
welcomed back as brothers and sisters without
any reservations or suspicions whatsoever.
Everywhere else in the country for many years
they were denied, deprived, shunned, attacked,
killed, discriminated against and humiliated but
never in the southwest or Lagos. It is the igbo
people more than any other that have
complained about marginalisation in Nigeria,
forgetting that there is no other country in the
world in which there was a major civil war and
yet only 10 years after that war ended the losing
side produced the Vice President for the whole
country in a democratic election in 1979 in the
distinguished person of Vice President Alex

Some have described my submissions in this
debate as being ”inflammatory” and have
claimed that I am ”not a true progressive” for
making them. I reject these labels and I wonder
whether those people that conjured them up
described the comments of my dear friend and
brother Chief Orji Kalu as “inflammatory” and
whether they labelled him as ”not being a true
progressive” when he erroneously claimed that
the igbo generated 55 per cent of the revenue
and owned 55 per cent of businesses in Lagos
and that they are effectively the owners of the
state. Unlike most of those that are attempting
to label me and brand me as a tribalist I know
the history of Lagos and the yoruba very well.

We will not let anyone poison the minds of our
yoruba youth or dispossess them of their
heritage by keeping silent when we witness the
irresponsible and dishonest propagation of the
most desperate and despicable form of
historical revisionism that some igbo leaders
are suddenly churning out. If anyone thinks
that they can intimidate us into keeping quite
when their leaders say such things then they
will have the biggest shocker of their lives. We
shall not be silenced and they shall not pass.

Lagos and the yoruba generally have much
stronger historical, cultural and trading ties with
the bini, the itsekiri, the uruhobo, the isoko, the
hausa-fulani, the tapas, the nupes and the
ijaws than they do with the igbo.

The input of those other major ethnic groups
to the development of Lagos and their stake in
her is far greater than that of the igbo. Whether
anyone wishes to accept it or not that is the
bitter truth.

We will not let anyone distort history and we
will not keep silent when we hear the
irresponsible and disrespectful effusions of
those that seek to substitute truth with
falsehood. When it comes to Lagos it is time
that everyone respected themselves and knew
their place. The igbo particularly should display
a much higher degree of respect and gratitude
to those who were gracious enough to accept
them in their land as equals when things were
very difficult for them and who treated them
with love, respect and kindness after the civil
war when hardly anyone else was prepared to
do so.

We the yoruba have accomodated others in
Lagos and throughout the south west and we
have let them live in peace for the last 100
years. As a matter of fact we have been glad to
do so because as far as we are concerned that
is one of the hallmarks of civilisation- the ability
to accomodate other faiths, other cultures,
other races and other nationalities and to
create an equitable and just racial melting pot
where equal opportunities are available to all. It
is a great and noble virtue to be open and
tolerant but that does not mean that we are
fools and it does not mean that we do not
know who we are, where we are coming from,
what is ours and what our heritage is.

The fact that we have allowed others to thrive
and settle in our land and share it with us does
not mean that we have stopped owning that
land. The suggestion that Lagos is a ”no-man’s
land’ and that the igbo or any other nationality
outside the yoruba generate up to 55 per cent
of it’s revenue or business is absolutely absurd
and frankly it has no basis in reality or
rationality. It is not only a dirty lie but it is also
very insulting.

Guests, no matter how welcome, esteemed,
cherished and valued they are, cannot become
the owners of the house no matter how
comfortable they are made to feel within it.
Those guests will always be guests. Lagos
belongs to the yoruba and to the yoruba alone.
ALL others that reside there are guests, though
some guests are far closer to us than others.
The igbos are the least close, the most distant
and the least familiar with our customs and our
ways. They ought to be the last to be claiming
our heritage and coveting our land and neither
can they claim to have made any real input to
our glaring success. For them to think
otherwise is nothing but delusion.


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