I had the rare privilege of meeting Tony Nwulu, The Coordinator of Igbo Youth National Forum and he bared his mind in this revealing write up. Do read and remember to share your thoughts, your feedback is important.
GOV. FASHOLA / APC NOT ANTI-IGBO, STOP THE DIRTY POLITICS ABOUT DEPORTATION!
Enough of the dirty politics being played at the expense of Ndigbo and the multi-faceted hypocrisy of some of our leaders on the rehabilitation and subsequent re-integration exercise conducted by the Lagos State government. This exercise must not be hijacked by politicians driven by selfish political agendas at the expense of our collective interests thereby conspicuously reducing this to a partisan politicking and trying to create a public disaffection for the newly registered APC such that it could affect their gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming Anambra State election is totally reprehensible. To this end, I do not hold forth for any party but I implore all parties to play fair. Now let's x-ray the facts of the hypocrisy being unfolded. The Abia State government last year came up with an ingenious policy. All non-indigenous employees in the state public service, including teachers, were to be relieved of their duties because the government’s resources were meant for the indigenes. Over 80% of the people affected are from Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu states. Most leaders maintained a conspiracy of silence on this policy which for long will remain one of the greatest impediments to Igbo unity. Abia State was actually treading the path of the Enugu State government which had in the late 1990s decided to sack all non-indigenes in the state’s public service in order to “save resources”. Almost every casualty is Igbo.
But a number of Igbo social activists have now suddenly found their voice. The overnight activists have created an unmistakable mass hysteria in both the social media and the traditional media over the bogey that Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has been “deporting” Igbo people from the state. Some politicians who are determined to make political capital out of the so-called repatriations have been busy simulating the hysteria. But perhaps, unbeknownst to these people, they are hurting in a most profound manner strategic Igbo interests and none of them had or would agree to adopt any of the destitute. No people can survive—let alone—progress on a diet of lies and emotions, or by allowing politicians to create and sustain a culture of paranoia or siege mentality, otherwise called persecution complex.
The Lagos State government launched a few year ago an ambitious project to turn Lagos, Nigeria’s economic nerve centre with a population of some 16million, into a true mega city. This entailed, among other things, the enthronement of a new social order and a different aesthetic regime. Consequently, the state began to clear thousands of homeless people, beggars and urchins from the streets. Thus, a large number of “area boys” who are mostly Lagos Island indigenes, like the governor, are to this day still arrested and hounded into “Black Baria” trucks by Kick Against Indiscipline (KIA) officials. Borrowing a leaf from such places as New York and Hawaii, Lagos initiated a programme of returning many destitute individuals to their home states. Over 3,000 of such people have been relocated back to northern states where they have now been reintegrated with their families. When about 80 were sent to Oyo State in November, 2009, the governor screamed to the high heavens that “they were dumped on Molete “Bridge” in Ibadan.
About 14 destitute people from Anambra State were sent to Onitsha last two weeks because of the failure of the State’s Ministry of Social Welfare to arrange for the arrival of these people , unlike those of Akwa Ibom and Katsina states which made proper logistic arrangements for their own people. A section of the media has since gone to town with the extremely dangerous propaganda that the Lagos State governor is driving Igbo people out of Lagos through “brazen deportations and repatriations”. Even professionals and scholars expected to be more thoughtful and strategic in their actions have capitulated so easily to the mind poisoning reports and have been responding exuberantly. A man who introduced himself as a professor from Nnewi called me on the phone on Thursday morning to assert with so much authority that “only Anambra indigenes are being targeted for expulsion from Lagos because all Nigerians know that Anambra is the leader of the Igbo nation”. A lawyer in Maryland, United States, wrote that Fashola dare not relocate beggars of northern extraction, alleging that the Igbo are the whipping boy of Nigerian politics. He is blissfully ignorant of the thousands of northern beggars taken away from Borno Street in Ebute Metta and environs.
How did the industrious, highly republican and intelligent Igbo people embrace, all of a sudden, this level of groupthink that has made us look like a people with unimaginable amnesia? Only last month, a very big plaza in Olodi, Apapa, belonging to Igbo entrepreneurs and housing hundreds of 1gbo traders was burnt at night. The next day Fashola was at the site and promised to rebuild it at the Lagos State expense. No Igbo governor has visited the place up to this moment, and none has promised to assist the victims. Last December, Ngozi Nwosu, an actress, was reported to be down with a serious liver ailment, so an appeal fund was launched. No Southeast government, including her home state of Imo State, responded, just as no wealthy Igbo men and women did. Only N1.5million out of 6m needed for treatment in the United kingdom, could be raised. Fashola provided the remaining N4.5m. And now some so-called Igbo activists are accusing him of anti-Igbo sentiments.
Two months ago, Fashola completed the biggest housing estate he has built and named it for Emeka Anyaoku, an erstwhile Commonwealth secretary general from Anambra State. At a time some Igbo people cannot be hired as teachers or civil servants in Southeastern states other those of those of their origin, Fashola recruits them in large numbers, with some becoming judges and magistrates. His Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Ben Akabueze, is from the Southeast. The chief executive of the state Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency, Joe Igbokwe, is an engineer and publisher from Nnewi. Mac Duruigbo, from Imo State, is Fashola’s Personal Assistant on the Media.
Fashola gave Ikemba Nnewi practically a state burial last year in Lagos, the only non-Southeast governor to accord the famous Biafran leader this high honour. He was the only governor who attended last March the Chinua Achebe colloquium at Brown University in Rhode Island, United States, where he praised Achebe for his monumental achievements at a time the great writer was the butt of criticism by the Yoruba political establishment following Achebe’s unflattering remarks about Obafemi Awolowo in his new book, There Was A Country, a personal account of the Nigerian civil war. So, how did some of us come about the brainwave that the dynamic and cosmopolitan Lagos State governor is anti-Igbo? Simply because his government relocated some Igbo elements to their home state, some of whom came to Lagos to do business but instead took to hard drug consumption and became urchin, better known as “area boys”! Interestingly when Fashola began to crack down on “area boys”, most of whom are from his state, Igbo traders were over the moon, rejoicing that the governor had saved them from the miscreants of “area boys” who had for decades been tormenting the traders daily, extorting huge sums from them and viciously assailing those who refused with dangerous weapons.
There are more Igbo people in Lagos than any other state. There are so many investments in Lagos because Lagos has for long welcomed the Igbo people, enabling NdIgbo to prosper in Lagos more than any other state. And no governor in Nigeria’s history has demonstrated as much affection to our people as Fashola. Commonsense dictates we protect in a strategic manner the interests of our people and reciprocate the friendship of well meaning individuals and groups. It will be a colossal tragedy if we savour the dishes of salacious lies and terrible propaganda which we are being served by opportunistic politicians and garnished by hysterical Igbo social activists. We must be guided at all times by truth and reason.
By Tony Nwulu, National Coordinator, Igbo Youth National Forum