Igbo Must Not Become Political Football In Lagos
Farouk Martins Aresa
There is a growing rift between Yoruba and Igbo in Lagos. It will be sheer folly to dismiss the obvious. But the way to solve it is by appealing to your intellect, not scary political tactics against your neighbors. Sincere sensible people must discuss problems openly and look for solutions. Leaving it in the hands of politicians only, will make matter worse. There are growing nationalism, ethno phobic and xenophobia sentiments worldwide.
Some parties have ridden it to power only to find out politicians are just after their selfish gains. Africa is not isolated from the rest of the world and Africans have been prosecuted and persecuted everywhere including within our own Continent. This has driven many communities to look for salvation within their own communities. At the same time, it has driven a wedge between brothers and sister that had gotten along.
A case in point was the enmity that sprung its ugly head around Warri where innocent folks cried that - my people are killing my people. These were families that had married into Itsekiri, Urhobo and Ijaw families, falling apart especially during the oil and land locations. We also have the Aguleri and Umuleri just as the Ife and Modakeke clash. The North has been embroiled in tumult for years between Hausa, Fulani and minorities.
Therefore ill feeling towards other group, no matter how close is not new. But we must learn from past cases and solve our differences amicable without resorting to violence. There is no place more accommodating in Nigeria than Lagos. Any African that have lived there would tell you that. This was how we grew up and even pride ourselves on the tolerance of individuals from other areas.
It cannot be said often enough that Lagosians are taught that when a stranger enters Lagos at dawn; before dusk he would be fed, clothed and given a place to sleep. It may sound strange these days but that was Lagos. The Yoruba culture and Oriki are very strong in Lagos despite foreign influence. After all, that is their land. Indeed, some of the problems have been generated by anyone disputing this established fact sarcastically.
The difference between Lagos of those days and Lagos of today has to do with how those that were not Yoruba were humble and welcomed. It was easy for them to assimilate because they were willing and ready to work hard and further the interest of their community. Indeed, we never knew that some of our friends’ parents were Igbo, Ghanaians, Togolese or Hausa until we got older.
A friend of ours had to go to the East to pay his mother’s dowry after his father got old and passed. Boy, he paid fines, penalty and interest on his old mother for his late father. We never even knew his mother was Igbo when we were growing up. So many of the compounds from Isale-Eko to Bamgbose had Africans from different states in Nigeria and African countries living in them without any problem.
Yes, we now have population explosion and Lagos is crowded. But it is not the reason to leave solution in the hands of politicians alone. They are looking for votes and will do anything to garner the votes of the community that is receptive to their hyperbole. We have to be careful so that politicians do not project their failures over so many years of misrule on our ethnic differences. Community has to get involved in solving problems.
It will be naive to claim there are no devils on each side fermenting trouble, tormenting the other side or outright impunity in one another’s faces. There are exaggerations that cannot be backed up by factual statistics. But it works in the minds of those that want to believe them. Any party in power for several years can no longer sugar coat its abysmal failure by claiming to be one eye savior in the land of the blinds.
In the meantime, politicians are converting resources, contracts and foreign loans into their pockets and to foreign accounts while the people fight over crumbs. You have to understand that politicians are willing to drive a hot shaft through their own mother if it will satisfy their greed and avarice. The populace see this and they become desperate, willing to do anything to get rich including using their mother and children for rituals.
Please we still have decent people in our communities. Actually reasonable folks still make up the majority of the people in our states. However, the minority with evil intentions and goals are so indifferent, they are willing to do anything necessary to achieve their goals. This includes manipulating the people to their advantages. When they label their fellow citizens bogies in the same country, they have a purpose.
It has got to the stage where proud and decent people known for their integrity, legacy and achievement have suddenly succumbed to stomach infrastructure. A hungry man is an angry man, so politicians have tailored their plan into stealing from the majority while feeding a few that will be compliant with their wishes. They distribute your money to those few that obey their instructions; as kingmakers choosing who they want to crown.
People are not stupid and they know this trick very well. However, if they are left with a choice of devils, the one they know and the one they do not know, they choose the one they know. Let us be sincere with ourselves, some of these politicians have entrenched themselves into the game for a long time and they will hang on to power by any means. All they have to do is point to whoever they demonize and ask you to make a choice.
Most of us are not stupid but so many are hungry in a country that used to flow with milk and honey. The stomach infrastructure will last the poor for another day, another year or four years. Until we realize we are being taken for a ride. We repeat the same mistakes every four years. Politicians celebrate behind your back because their chicanery works every election year.
There are naming ceremonies for everything: When they read a budget full of promises, commission a road, open the same road, pay “modulated” salaries, pension after owing for months. However, their own salaries, padded allowance and loot never ceased. Nowhere, no magic or miracle can fill a basket with water, no matter how competent they claim to be. Deal with your hosts, brothers, sisters and neighbors on their merit not fear.
Do not let fear, used to scare you like bogeyman overwhelm your judgment of what they achieve during their several years in power. Do not be fooled, no government in any part of the Country or in the world for that matter, would open its community wide for others to overwhelm them. Claiming that one party would let others turn you into slaves in this days, in your own home is nothing short of hyperbolic nonsense.