The politics of ‘Lagos is a no man’s land’

By March 29, 2023 March 30th, 2023 No Comments

With the pandemonium that occurred during the gubernatorial election of Lagos state, one may think the existence of the state was coming to an end. It was like the force of the whirlwind that is yet to rest. 

After the presidential election that saw the Labour Party (LP) candidates and presidential candidate Mr. Peter Obi win the state, it became obvious to the Lagos APC that they might lose the state’s gubernatorial election.

From 1999, Lagos has been in the hands of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the declared President-elect. It was coming off as a mockery that Mr. Tinubu the Jagaban of Borgu could not win the state he has led like an emperor for the past 24 years. Over the years, former president Olusegun Obasanjo was derided for not winning his polling unit in 1999. The Jagaban would take none of that. He could not lose Lagos state and its resources to another party or Lagos indigene. 

Among the voters in Lagos state are diverse people from many ethnic groups in Nigeria and that included the Yoruba. But Igbophobia was activated as the Igbo were singled out for an orchestrated propaganda and attack which led to many killed and many sustaining massive body injuries. As I wrote in my earlier work, “It is worth knowing that Igbophobia is at the foundation of Nigeria and has since been deployed at several times.”

Igbophobia was deployed and utilised this time using “Lagos is a no man’s land” propaganda to whip up ethnic strife to agitate the Yoruba and other ethnic groups against the Igbo. In the process, markets were burnt, means of livelihood were destroyed and Igbo, including other peoples that looked like them were denied participation in the Lagos state gubernatorial election.

This propaganda is not used for the first time. It is a recurring subject that is used during election once Mr. Tinubu and cronies grip on Lagos resources is threatened. It was used at least against Olujimi Kolawole Agbaje and against Gbadegbo Rhodes-Vivour.

“Yoruba“Lagosians” must remember that the Igbos in Lagos were going to massively turn out for Jimmy Agbaje not because they love the Yorubas but because they want to use him to achieve their hidden agenda to turn Lagos into an Igbo city down the road and to turn Lagos into a no man’s land as time goes by.”Dr. Wumi Akintide as published in Sahara Reporters. The same fear was extended to Mr. Gbadebo.

“I’m not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he cannot be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, don’t do it here. If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you. If you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.” Oba Rilwan Akiolu was quoted in Daily Post threatening the Igbo not to vote for Mr. Agbaje.

These threats came about after President Goodluck Jonathan and other PDP candidates won some seats in the March 28th election of 2015, just like it happened with the LP in the 2023 elections with thugs joining in threatening the Igbo.

‘Lagos is a no man’s land’ as propaganda is only activated during elections. The template is already written but sadly, the much touted sophisticated Yoruba people always fell for it.

According to Rasheed Ojikutu in The Guardian, “the phrase was first used in 1947 to describe Lagos by the First Speaker of the House of Representatives and later Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jaja Anucha Nwachukwu. He used this term not because he believed that nobody owns Lagos but because he believed since Lagos was then the Federal Capital Territory, it belongs to all Nigerians.”

The term was also used by Lagos state governor Alhaji Lateef Jakande in his 1979 inaugural address as published in TVCNews. He recounted how Lagos came to be. “…In 1886, Lagos was again set up as a separate colony in response to a petition by the people of Lagos who resented being governed from the Gold Coast. It was administered by a Governor of the Colony of Lagos under Letters Patent dated 13th January, 1886. This was the first time that the territory now known as Lagos State came under one administration. The administration continued under various constitution until 1954, when Lagos was separated from the rest of the Colony and constituted Federal Territory, that is to say a No-Man’s Land.”

Read Also: Igbophobia, xenophobia, nationalism and multiculturalism

Given the historical instances of use, the phrase has not been used by the Igbo and in an attempt to take over the state to warrant the wanton destruction of life and property and a demand from the Igbo to kowtow to the Yoruba for accommodating them.

Section 43 of the Nigerian constitution guarantees every citizen “the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.”  

Lagos being the former capital of Nigeria, it attracted many ethnic groups including foreigners who live and do business in the state. If the Yoruba claim to be accommodative, how come they became hostile and destroyed life and property of those living in their land? If they are not led by fear and mischief, has an Igbo person been crowned an Oba or become a member of the traditional council? Yet, the Igbo do not bury their dead on Yoruba lands. If they are not envious, why are some of them aiming at the properties of the Igbo? Why are they not paranoid of the Igbo living in other Yoruba states? What then would lead the Yoruba to pursue the hostility and rejoice in the wanton destruction simply to satisfy the political aspiration of one man in the bid to justify the saying; “the end justify the means?”

Lagos resources are at stake and indigenous Lagos people not within the clique must not be allowed to control it.  

The investigation by International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), “which was carried out in 21 LCDAs shows that bus drivers, tricyclists and motorcyclists pay a whopping ₦123.078 billion annually to touts in Lagos. However, because of their networks in the state government, they have become powerful, rampant and unstoppable in the state…each truck driver said he pays at least N30,000 daily in settling thugs, popularly called Area Boys, before reaching their destinations.” If the powerful people in the state don’t benefit from the heist, Lagos state government would have seriously dealt with the extortion and the thuggery business.  

Thuggery is sustained by the state government as they are also used to determine who wins elections in the state and to ensure the state remains in the hands of the Tinubu clan.

As reported by the ICIR, the victims of this malaise cut across ethnic groups. Many Yoruba people and Nigerians are made to believe that the problem is the Igbo. 

Many are killed and injured to sustain the thuggery business and control of the resources but who among those that went to town with the ‘no man’s land’ and rejoiced as the Igbo were dealt with, benefit from the heist?

As long as the billions of naira are at stake, every election cycle will witness the blatant Igbophobia for continued entrenchment and the milking of the state while the people are made to believe that the Igbo are their problem and that they will carry the Yoruba land on their head. 

‘Lagos is a no man’s land’ will remain a political tool so long the people are not aware of the real problem.

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