The 2023 general election has yet again proved the notion that this disparate conundrum of a country is yet to morph into a nation and probably never will, until we are ready for it. What happened, especially in Lagos State, where a xenophobic attack was unleashed on the Igbo, left much to be desired.

Goaded by the fear of losing Lagos as it did to the Labour Party in the presidential election, rattled politicians of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chose the way of Goebbels and manufactured the lie that the Igbo wanted to take over Lagos. The lie was so beautifully crafted that even the inventors tended to believe its truth, and so set the stage for Igbo heckling and xenophobia never witnessed before.

As was the case of the Jews in the days of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the Igbo were targeted and demolished, dehumanised, humiliated, and assaulted; many were barred from exercising their franchise. But what did the Igbo do to deserve this wickedness from their fellow southern brethren?

It was so absurd. More so, it was shocking and very disappointing for people like Bayo Onanuga to descend to the lowest depth of bigotry. Besides saying 2023 would be the last time the Igbo would interfere in Lagos electoral process, he never said how the Igbo have been meddling in the electoral process save in exercising their constitutional right to vote. It is even more shameful that such a supposedly well-exposed man could be this duplicitous. A piece of his condemning ethnic cleansing in Rwanda in 2018 was dug up and unveiled. He never perceived that history is wickedly unsparing. How could he condemn such in faraway Rwanda but promote unbridled hatred against the Igbo in his own country? What could be more prejudicial than that?

What I find baffling, however, is how Onanuga, who came from his native Ijebu Ode in Ogun to Lagos to hustle like any Igbo from the East, imposed on Lagos, our common host, the right to determine who stays or leaves. Perhaps, he fails to understand that the battle is between interlopers like him and the Awori.

The ‘anywhere belle face’ toady politician that quickly tagged along with Onanuga does not deserve the response some Igbo gave him, as it massaged relevance to the overly bloated self-image he craves.

The man is adept at confusing Nigerians who have long known him as a good dancer before dishes from whatever kitchen. The same Igbo he has taken up arms against are the people whose just cause he was defending not too long ago at a media briefing. Perhaps, he had just stepped out of Nnamdi Kanu’s wife’s kitchen then.

Could the conspiracy against the Igbo be responsible for why the police chief, who vowed to take responsibility for any affront during the elections, reneged? It is unbelievable that he concluded that the barefaced threats against the people, which were later made good, were a joke. No wonder Nigeria has become a joke before the world.

I am not a politician and I don’t pray to be one either because of their queer ways. I know that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is qualified enough to rule this country. So are Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. However, whatever controversies that trailed the election are now before a court of law. Of concern to me is what becomes of our unity once the dust settles. What happens to ‘our’ Lagos?

Our Lagos because we are all stakeholders here, building the city together with our sweat and blood. Our Lagos because most of what you see in Lagos was built with our collective resources when the city hosted Nigeria’s federal capital. Our Lagos because the city had known and lived in peace from ages past until the likes of Onanuga came with their toxic gospels and ethnic profiling.

Actually, the issue of Lagos being a no man’s land was first mooted by the late venerable Lateef Jakande in his inaugural speech as governor in 1979. However, the problem here as I understand it is pure misconception or misrepresentation. I believe Pa Jakande referred to the cosmopolitan nature of the city, not ownership. Some people own Lagos, certainly, and it would be delusory to think otherwise.

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Nevertheless, what is at play now is the resolve of the Awori, the true owners of the land, to claim back what is theirs from the hegemony of people from Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, etcetera, that have practically seized the state and lorded it over everyone since 1999. That is why Obi got the largest supporters leading to the 2023 presidential election from among the Yoruba and disenchanted groups that are domiciled in Lagos, not necessarily the Igbo because the ‘Obidient’ Movement has nothing to do with Peter Obi or the Igbo. It is a documented fact that many Igbo are ‘disobidient’. Rather, the movement is all-embracing and a kind of revolt against the status quo nationwide but in the case of Lagos by the original sons of the soil against those that have confiscated their patrimony; no Igbo is part of this.

Sadly, as usual, like Nigeria’s whipping boy, the Igbo must be the scapegoat once again and wrongly accused of annexation plans against Lagos without proof.

Strangely, these strangers, who are not much different from the Igbo and others that came from the South-east and South-south to hustle for a living, are the most vociferous in the attack on the Igbo and trumpeters of inane falsehood.

The Igbo are never known to antagonise anyone despite being at the receiving end of atrocious, vicious and inexplicable attacks all over the country, even when their ancestral homes had been invaded by rampaging armed marauders of the Fulani stock, masquerading as herdsmen. They have always remained their hard-nosed entrepreneurial selves in their various fields of endeavour, whether in industry, trade or the professions.

Perhaps, a bit too loud but. naturally, the Igbo easily meld into their host communities and acquire whatever property they own legally. 

In places like Lagos, they even buy up rivers and fill them up to erect perfect estates. The government hardly provides the infrastructure to these places but by deploying self-help, the people develop their area while still meeting huge financial demands from the state.

This is the root of the envy because it seems the Igbo thrive more under adversity and the host communities fail to fathom it. Hence, the idea is to call the dog a bad name so as to hang it.

The Igbo, knowing they are strangers wherever they are domiciled, like the Jews in them still ferry their dead home for burial. They are quick to tell you that it is a taboo to bury their own in a strange land. Virtually every city in Nigeria dies every December or during festive seasons like Easter and Christmas when the Igbo troop home to celebrate with their kith and kin at Christmas. Why would they go to this extent if their intention is to stay put and annex Lagos?

  It is trite and cheap to accuse the Igbo of laying claim to Lagos and nobody has ever adduced any evidence to buttress the claim. Unfortunately, the supposed elite Yoruba, who peddle this scandalous propaganda kind of buttress the ‘Heathrow owa’ jibe. They may be doing so jokingly or for political gains but their many armies of miscreants on the streets lack understanding and lap on it to cause mischief, as has just been witnessed.

The Igbo do not need their Lagos but nobody can stop the Igbo from staying in Lagos if they so choose. No sane Igbo man has ever said or believed that Lagos is no man’s land because it would be stupid to say so. Truth be told, Lagos is not a no man’s land, and can never be.

Many are offended by the envy-driven hate against the Igbo but insist that the Igbo right to live anywhere they choose must be respected. The Igbo have had enough of the unprovoked and unjustified rabid hatred against them, not just in Lagos but across the country, and demand a stop to this madness.

You cannot beat a child and ask it not to cry. If Nigeria does not want the Igbo, the best thing to do is to give them their Biafra and let them go, even though not many Igbo are positively inclined to the Biafra dream.