The essence of unification is for someone who has spent 69 years in Awka to speak Igbo, blend with Igbo culture and his children and grandchildren be as normal as any other Awka indigene not to have mini enclaves of their foreign ethnicities in their new home.
We cannot be a cluster of tribal ghettos refusing to blend like water and oil. My community is an admixture of diverse backgrounds such as Nupe, Bini, Igala, Oyos (Yorubas as originally called) , Ife, Brazilian returnees, American mercenaries who came to fight Kiriji war, Ebiras, Ijebu, Agatus, but each had given up where they came from and become the Ondo Kingdom.
Ekwuemes Igala (Idokos) who left Ondo due to a dispute over refusal to accept the rulership of we Oyo princes when we arrived circa 1500, moved back to Idoko near Idah and from there established a farm settlement (Oko) now in Oko, Anambra State have since blended with their Igbo hosts and cannot be denied their Igbo identity and culture. Ekwueme which was a nickname for the honesty and integrity of the Igala man has overtaken his original Idoko name.
The notion of being born in Lagos and insisting on Anambra, Ondo, Enugu, Imo, Rivers, Kano etc as State of Origin in all your documents and returning home for all milestones such as wedding, funeral Christmas etc punctures any claim of equal citizenship with those who have only Lagos as their home.
People who refer to Obama and the American presidency should not forget that Obama speaks American, lives American and doesn’t return to Kenya routinely for life milestones. Everything about him is American. The USA has people from all parts of the world. The melting process creates one American identity based on long term residence without looking back to former homelands.
This is where Nigeria needs to head to. A situation where ethnic enclaves in Lagos vote en bloc and in one direction in elections is not assimilation. It is the opposite of it. There should be no Igbo vote in Lagos, Kano etc. And there should be no Yoruba votes in Enugu or Kaduna. Neither should there be Hausa votes in Apapa or Owerri or Port Harcourt. I was sad when my governorship candidates said he was looking for Igala votes in Delta. I asked if they tend to vote in one direction. The answer was yes! Sad.
A situation whereby Igbo or Hausa or Yoruba factory workers in Lagos vote the same way as their ethnic brethren who are factory owners in Lagos. Why should an Igbo tenant or homeless vote alongside an Igbo landowner or estate developer in an election in which housing and welfare should be in focus? What interests should they have in common? What is the interest of a Yoruba Okada rider in common with a Yoruba politician who denied him livelihood without a replacement?
I have paid attention to the present squabbles which are a rehash of ethno-sensitivities of the 1950s to 1960s culminating in the creation of Lagos State. It is like a spell cast on Nigerians that history must not only repeat itself but the bad parts of history must repeat themselves in more regularity. The good and sweet parts rarely repeat themselves.
If anyone wants to be a Lagosian, they need to be Lagosian. And old identities passed away. I am not Lagosian. I lived there for 22 years. Hundreds of my family members are now Lagosians. How do I know? It is because they don’t return to Ondo.
They come once in years when someone is to be buried or married to spend one night and vamoose back to Lagos. Many of my blood are buried at Atan and other cemeteries in Lagos despite all entreaties to be brought to Ondo. As my grandfather lamented over the remains of her beloved niece: Abegbe ti gbe s’Eko. Abegbe is lost to Lagos.
Abegbe has great grandchildren now. Ondo is a faint memory if at all, lost way back in the family tree. That is how to be a Lagosian.
For me, I am an economic operator in Lagos. I go to do business wherever there is business to do, just as I am an economic operator in Aba and Kano and wherever value can be exchanged. I lived many years in New York but I am not a New Yorker. When law practice took me to Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, I did my job. I remain an Ondo man. I am not Australian.
I think that we must raise issues of common concerns to our electorates so that they may ponder over them and identify their interests and mobilise support for measures and solutions they believe in. And when issues of poverty, insecurity, poor infrastructure, human development etc are raised, people of the same ethnicity won’t agree across the board. There will be no ethnic block votes to squabble over. Voters will gravitate towards where their shoes pinch them. They will scratch where the itching is.
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”