WHEN Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola was sworn in as the Governor of Lagos State, to take over from his mentor, I was one of those who vouched for him,
urging my friends in our small but very closed forum of lawyers who are pastors to monitor and watch the actions of Lawyers in Power.
I boasted that here comes the first SAN, as a Governor, who will show Nigerians that lawyers have the key to the challenges of this blessed nation, and that Lagos will soon experience a turn around for good. Today, we all agree that he has done well and still doing well except for one terrible and dangerous tendency his government has displayed too frequently.
Around December 2009,the LASG, provided buses and was paying a sum ranging from N8,000 toN15,000 to anyone who wanted to leave Lagos. What was baffling was that the evacuation targeted people from the South- South and South East of Nigeria, especially the Igbos.
Any man who wants people to leave “their Lagos” so shabbily is wickedly inconsiderate because some of these citizens being urged to depart or relocate from Lagos may have come here when some of them in power today were toddlers. Some of these persons so believed in Lagos, that they gave their children Yoruba names like myself.
They only discovered late in life, like I now do, that many of these men who are in power have refused to outgrow their dislike for Igbos! To me, that action signaled the possibility of BRF waking up any morning to ask a whole group, and ethnic group to leave Lagos. Igbos could be made to leave Lagos one day, if nothing is done now.
I quickly took this thought to my forum of Pastor Lawyers, and after a good argument, they disagreed with me, but we all agreed to watch BRF closely to observe anything that will prove my thoughts or to confirm my fears for the Igbo people in Lagos. After BRF’s re-election in 2011, we all agreed that the man will become bolder, more blunt, daring, and even wicked in his second term. This was purely based on his body language in everything he did, after he was sworn in for the second term.
Soon after, LASG had a serious brush with the Igbo traders in Alaba International Market, Ojo. He threatened to close their market, and we noted it.
Then he hit the Okada riders very hard, and as that was settling down, he hit the Ladipo Igbo traders early this year, and closed the market indefinitely! It took the intervention of Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State to reach BRF’s milk of mercy and he reopened Ladipo Market, but not without a warning! I, had to, and without any apologies, come to the painful conclusion that it is either that someone very high up in the LASG does not like Ndigbo, or it is BRF himself. What angered me more was that Owelle had to beg him for Ndigbo.
This Igbo people I complained, when will they wake up to know and accept that no one likes them in this arrangement called Nigeria, and comport themselves properly at all times and in all they do?
To confirm that I was correct, on the July 26 morning, Onitsha people at the bridge head area woke up to the deportation of about 70 Igbos by LASG to Anambra State! What BRF has told Ndigbo by this action include: That Lagos State under his administration will not tolerate Igbo failed citizens in the state; Lagos will allow only those who contribute immensely to the Internally Generated Revenue of the State, and if any becomes unable to pay tax for any reason, LASG will send him back to Igboland.
Don’t ever think you can do anything about how LASG, treats Ndigbo,whether their treatment of Igbos is constitutional or not, no one can do anything about it. Since Igbo Governors may only come to beg him for mercy, he might as well just send their people back to them, good riddance of bad rubbish! Finally, LASG can and will disregard the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when it concerns Ndigbo, because they are ACN!
The deportation of Nigerians from Nigeria was the worst assault on the pride of Igbo people in Lagos; it was deliberately calculated to see what the Igbo people would do, and it is in very bad taste to me.
The meaning was that a governor who thinks and goes ahead to approve the transportation and relocation of these Nigerian citizens from his state, has succeeded in flouting and abusing the constitutional rights of these citizens to a place of domicile, to stay and earn their living in any part of Nigeria.
If the Federal Government does not speak and do something about this, there will be cause for any Igbo man to worry about this contraption called Nigeria that we have all so believed in. LASG must be made to account for these persons, cater and provide for them, because it was in Lagos that they lost focus and their destiny ruined.
Lagos Area Boys run wild, extorting money from bus drivers, causing nuisance with impunity ostensibly encouraged by LASG. I just wonder when this insult of Ndigbo will end.The growing trend of disrespecting the Igbo people in Lagos, and wherever in Nigeria must stop.
If nothing is done about this by the FG, many will have to brace up for a fight for their constitutional right, or pack away from Lagos State. And this is because my Igbo people say that if your fowl comes out in the morning from its cage and starts pursuing you, it is wise that you run for your dear life, because it may have developed sharp teeth overnight!
Mr. CLEMENT UDEGBE, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos.