Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fashola's Lagos Expulsion: A Case Of The Igbo, Bigotry And Hatred

BY AMBROSE EHIRIM


Reuters file photo shows a party supporter hangs on to a bus with an election poster of Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola during a campaign rally for his reelection in Lagos March 29, 2011. Image: Joseph Penney

I had thought there probably wouldn't be any need for me to add my comments regarding what Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola had done to the Igbos. I had taken the time off, out of the commentaries that had poured in; some in favor, and some against an order which had singled out Nd'Igbo for persecution, a trend that begun from the moment the colonial administrators fused different tribes together, and had continued apace. I had also thought, when I heard the news, that it may not be true for one who studied law to have taken such draconian measures. And I had wandered as Obafemi Awolowo once proclaimed during the constitutional conferences that there's no such thing as Nigeria, that it doesn't exist, and that what was going on had been a fabrication of nation states in which Fashola had thought about and implemented.

In what had begun from the Lagos State government and its state governor Fashola's order to expel what had been said to be Igbo miscreants around the Lagos metropolis, which was indeed implemented without considering implications of human rights violations on the individuals who had not been initially handed any legal notice to vacate and quit squatting on the state's property, the federal government, so far, declined patently to get involved into a case its own citizens Fashola had expelled without due process, and had not questioned Fashola what had amounted to his acts of bigotry and hatred towards the Igbo.

On due process, and based on the rule of law, and for the fact that Nigeria is a practicing democracy, a government supposedly run on all grounds with the peoples consent, it is ironic that the federal government kept a sealed lip on an issue that had to do with discrimination of its own citizens by a tiny fraction of government which decided to negate normal procedure, carrying out an order that destroys all aspects of civil liberties.

What also is disturbing, is that Fashola did not timely allow due process to play out as in all respectable democracies, the creed he had taken oath to defend affirmatively. However, Fashola's order of expulsion of Nd'Igbo for the time being was not really what had mattered, since, eventually, and with time, the situation would be handled in its natural way or perhaps dragged on a Yoruba-Igbo feud over time, recalling the nation's founders and how ethnic rivalry played its course during the constitutional conferences through independence; and how the founders of what would be a fabricated nation state left an undone situation hanging on till today, and how an end in sight has not been seen despite all the tongue-in-cheek attempts.

Meanwhile, the expulsion thing had not been taken so seriously as Igbo took the breath to study what had gone through Fashola's head, and what had amounted to the decision taken and applauded by the Yorubas. What had been mind boggling was Femi Fani-Kayode who had seized the moment and hijacked Fashola's "expulsion orders" when the reactions had called for sanctions on Fashola regarding his actions on the grounds Igbo contributed immensely to the development of Lagos, and following Orji Uzor Kalu's commentaries that Lagos was a "no man's land."

Fani-Kayode, all of a sudden, changed the subject matter, adding insult to dishonor, exploding with series of articles, deriding the Igbos in every way he could. He had called the Igbos all kinds of names, insulted their women and bragged about encounters with the finest women Igbo had produced. He had talked about their easy virtue. He recalled Igbos back to retrace their history and find out how they begun and where exactly was their starting point. He had said the Igbo was not well educated and the only thing baked in their genes was the ability to buy and sell items the old fashioned way. He said the Igbo had caused too much trouble in the country by way of beginning a crisis that led to the pogrom and civil war. He also said the Igbos were not appreciating, not acknowledging the kind gestures and warmth attitude by his Yoruba kinfolks and all that they have done for the Igbo over the years. He said the Igbo was uncouth and uncivilized. In all his sayings and all the blah, blah, blah he had spewed out, he said he spoke against killing of the Igbos and that the Yoruba had saved the Igbo from being wiped out from the face of the planet.

Fani-Kayode never stopped talking. He declined to give Igbo any credit on the foundations of a nation state which was actually structured by Nnamdi Azikiwe for the interest of the entire nation. Fani-Kayode, rather, the man, Awolowo, whom Chukwuemeka Ojukwu had released in prison instead of keeping him permanently slammed or eliminated had been who he gives all the credit. He cites Awolowo as the father of the modern Yoruba nation, and the figure who had introduced utopian experiment and a welfare state from around which Igbos had been beneficiaries.

Fani-Kayode's seriously viral series was among others, a slap on the face of the Igbo. He said besides the slums of Lagos, that Igbos hadn't any privilege to have accessed upscale Lagos metropolis. And he was ready to fight, according to him; especially, when former minister Obiageli Ezekwesili in the Olusegun Obasanjo's administration had called for his arrest regarding his inflammatory remarks on the Igbo. Fani-Kayode would never shut up, warning that his firepower could not be neutralized until an advertorial at the This Day Newspapers by the counsels of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu gave him an ultimatum of seven days to retract his comments on Ojukwu or an ensuing lawsuit would be leveled against him for slander and other punitive damages.

I had looked forward to Fani-Kayode keeping up to his words even though he had recklessly made the mistake of mentioning names on his series of Igbo bashing, he retracted all his comments; first, from his alleged courtship with Ojukwu, to the other two women he told us he had slept with.

Enter the second coming of Fashola's continued insult on the Igbo, who at the Aka Ikenga convention said he apologized  but noted his actions had been misconstrued by some of his Igbo friends and the media, in which he added more insult to the humiliation questioning the Igbo problem and why they (Igbo) had lacked the ability to develop Igbo land and make their hub the depot for their trade where people would come and exchange goods and services.

From what had gone down, I had begun to think that Fashola, who had been trained as a lawyer, was up to something -- to send the message that the Igbos, obviously, one day, would be compelled to leave en-masse the Yoruba related states, setting up the experiment with the expulsion of those labelled as destitute and a reaction, and opposing views that did not create much of an impact, since the leading Igbo men of thought and industry could not seize the moment to begin a process that would prosecute Fashola and his gang of Igbo haters to the limit of the law on human rights violations and on discrimination charges.

Fashola's apology was way too late and the Aka Ikenga forum was not the appropriate place to have rendered his so-called apology which by the way, was wishy washy, with no shred of honesty in it and, damage already done, and statements and actions permanently  stamped as a stigma attached to the Igbo.
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