Let me begin by way of clarification: I am not a card-carrying member of any party and have no loyalty to anyone. My loyalty is to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Of late I have been inundated with several calls, posts and solicitations imploring me to support the re-election of Babajide Sanwo- Olu, the APC gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State. The way these calls and posts and bombardments through various formats and platforms are staged is like Lagos is under imminent attack from foreign takeover and external invasion.
It is these irritatingly vacuous and asinine propositions by opportunists and third-rate social media activists and mediocre intellectuals that I want to demolish in this intervention. The manipulation of information, the deployment of ethnic sentiments and religious sympathies; the dubious and maniacal insinuations and the rearranging of the facts to suit the intended sinister purpose by people who neither love Yorubas nor care about religion are what irritate me and which I want to expose here.
I have been closely associated with Lagos since 1995 and until recently I have lived there. So I am aware of the entire history of the Fourth Republic as per Lagos State and all the administrations that have ruled Lagos since 1999. This is why I am a bit disturbed at the campaigns of calumny flying around about the supposed takeover of Lagos by a certain tribe. If you have ruled a place consistently for 24 years under the same party and you are still afraid of takeover then it is proof that you failed in your assignment or you didn’t do all that was required of you. It is not for you to run from pillar to post or demonise another tribe but to calmly see your own failure. If you train a child for 24 years and now that child wants to rebel and change his parentage it is actually not his fault but the parents. That is the truth they are not telling you which I will tell you here.
A few days ago the ubiquitous and noisy Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria ( PFN) Lagos State Chapter through its executive unanimously adopted Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the candidate and asked people to reelect him for a second time. With due respect and in all humility, I stand to tell you that what you did was wrong. It is not your place to adopt a candidate or seek the re-election of a candidate of any party. As clergymen, you are supposed to be neutral and maintained neutrality. And if you must be partisan then it has to be private not using the corporate organ of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. The Labour Party candidate is also a Christian too, so on what basis are you showing partiality between the two candidates?
I am also aware of several Yoruba Groups and Yoruba Nation activists who have been busy writing, posting, and soliciting for the need to prevent Lagos from being captured by outsiders. Thus, they want us to vote for the APC candidate and reject the Labour candidate whom they claim is an agent of the vehicle of complete Igbonisation of Lagos. Several arguments, some of them utterly fallacious, jejune and illogical, have been adduced to support this infantile reasoning including the Awo – Zik spat of the 1950s. Let me say this blunt truth that our people are not careful to notice: If Lagos falls on Saturday to the Labour Party or any “foreign” candidate the number one person to hold responsible is Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is not anyone’s fault but Tinubu himself and the way he has governed Lagos both directly and indirectly from 1999 till now.
People are afraid of the consequences but they forget that it is their choices and causes that produce consequences. It is what you sow that you reap. It is now time to reap all the sowing of the last 24 years. There should be nothing to fear if you have done well. The rewards of your hands are now about to be given to you. It is now time to carry your own cross. Thus all these barrages of information manipulation and ethnic profiling are not necessary. Let me now debunk certain claims in the public domain. It is being said that the current struggle for power in Lagos is akin to the Awo- Zik struggle for the West in the 1950s. It is not. What is going on in Lagos State regarding this election is not like the famous Awo- Zik case. It is not even similar. In the 1950s Zik was the usurper, an interloper trying to rule in a region that was not his own. Also, the vehicle he was using NCNC was founded by the Yorubas but after becoming a leader he introduced tribalism and turned it into an Igbo party. For instance, when he was contesting he should have allowed another person as the leader of the party instead he chose an Igbo man like himself.
Also, Awo and the Action Group’s programs were far better and superior to the Zik and NCNC even now in retrospect. That was in the 1950s. It is not the same today. We have seen how APC has ruled Lagos State and how a Mafia has emerged as the leader, the lack of accountability, the corruption, rent-seeking patronage system, and the level of poverty ( Lagos is the most indebted state in Nigeria even though it is also the state with the highest internally- generated revenue.), the alienation of the youths, neglect of the old and the native Lagosians etc. It is an insult when you compare Awolowo with these people. It is an abuse of language when you compare Awo’s struggles for power with these people’s struggle for power which is basically for their own benefit and selfish interests.
The noise about Yorubas is chiefly diversionary; these people care nothing about the Yorubas. I will come to that soon. I sympathize with genuine Yorubas who feel sincerely bothered and worried that Lagos State is about to become a no man’s land which is what the Labour Party’s victory would signpost. However, the seeming loss of Lagos didn’t begin today; it began long ago. It began when someone because of his ambition and greed began to sell through his agents every choice estate to developers, non-indigenes and even non-Yorubas. He didn’t consider then that the effect will come back someday to haunt him. Yorubas have been losing Lagos for a long time. I could see it but others of my tribesmen can’t see it. Now I am afraid it is late. The consequences of your foolish actions are now here. I will speak exhaustively another time of how Yoruba began to lose Lagos but let me just mention a few cases that our duo will remember.
Excluding Lagos from Yoruba Struggles! If you observe for a long time Lagos usually stands apart from other Yoruba states. It rarely identifies with other Yoruba states in their struggle or shares the collective aspirations and desires of the Yoruba Nation. They see other Yorubas as grabbers and usurpers who want to eat Lagos’s wealth. Observe that during the Constitutional Conference, Lagos stood apart from other Yoruba states in their position. ” Gedegbe leko wa” – was their slogan meaning, Lagos stands apart. When the Southwest was besieged front and left by Fulani invaders and herdsmen terrorists and the governors met for a common position was Lagos part of it? Only a deputy governor represented Lagos State at the meeting. And when the Amotekun was set up Lagos was not part of it. Tinubu has always loved to govern Lagos as a fiefdom and not share it with anyone. Good. So fight the battle too alone. Why are you now appealing to Yoruba sentiments? So go face the battle alone. “Lagos stands apart?”, Good, so stand apart and fight your electoral battle without appealing to Yorubas to help you.
The General Adebayo’s Letter! Before his death, the late General Adeyinka Adebayo wrote a passionate letter to Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Since I read that letter I have kept a copy of it. It was a beauty of statement by someone who has seen it all, a patriot and a passionate Yoruba man conscious that all politics is first local. What Adebayo warned about has already befallen the Yorubas now in the Southwest. How many industries today existing in the southwest are owned by Yorubas? How many existing in Lagos are owned by Lagosians and Yorubas? The paper industry used to be exclusively owned by the Yorubas. Go to Mushin today and see who now controls it. The banking system used to be the turf of the Yorubas. Today another tribe has displaced you lock, stock and barrel.
How has your policy impacted this or brought it about? What have you done about addressing the genuine concerns expressed by that illustrious army general in the last few years? Why is it only about the election you are concerned about and returning to office? Of what use is a Yoruba control of Lagos when it is the Yoruba administration that has impoverished its own people? Whether you are aware of this or not your policies have driven many Yorubas to find succour elsewhere outside Lagos. And don’t forget that for every Yoruba man that leaves Lagos two Igbos or northerners come to take his place. That is why you now have the dangerous demographics that you have today. That is one of the factors that resulted in the Waterloo of February 25 and the worse is yet to come unless you do the right thing and take the right steps. It is still not too late if you know what to do but it is not by deploying ethnic sentiments; it has gone beyond that. Pray you will find the wisdom to know what to do before Saturday.
Policies Alienating Yorubas! Another factor in the crisis that has befallen the APC is the policies, deliberate policies that tend to drive natives away for reasons best known to them. I will give a few examples. Under Bola Ahmed Tinubu virtually every Igbo governor had a plot in Lagos State but Tinubu denied a fellow Yoruba governor this opportunity. Lam Adeshina was governor of Oyo State and he helped Tinubu cover his tracks at a time when he claimed to have attended Ibadan Government College which is untrue. It was this governor who ensured that the records were not found. Yet how did Tinubu payback? He applied several times for a plot in Lagos without Tinubu acceding to the request even when he gave Igbo governors the privilege. Anytime Lam Adeshina came to a meeting in Lagos he must return before night to go and sleep in Ibadan.
This is the same Tinubu who is now claiming to love Yorubas more than Oduduwa. Whenever he is threatened he always resorts to an ethnic card like when the APC cabal was trying to deny him the ticket. But how much does he really love Yorubas? There was a riot in Ibadan and markets were destroyed and Yorubas were killed. Did you hear his voice? Did he donate anything? But he has donated for rebuilding Katshina market, and Kano market except for Yoruba land. This is the man who is now appealing to Yoruba not to allow Igbos to take over Lagos. Who cares? The policies of APC took the properties of the natives and gave them to the highest bidders. Yorubas were evacuated in Badia under the name of redevelopment and who got the prime land thereafter?
Yorubas were evicted from the Tejuosho market and a new ultra-modern market was built which the poor Yorubas cannot afford. Did your government give them the loan or empowerment to be able to take them? Today Igbos largely have also taken it. These are the Yorubas you want to vote for you on Saturday, the same Yorubas you have impoverished through your market-driven philosophy and neo-liberal economic policies. What about the Ilajes? You destroyed their shanties without building a replacement for them. What about the owners of Makoko and other indigenous lands that your government, backed with touts and police evicted by force of arms to God- knows where? These are the votes that would be missing on Saturday.
Your government drives away street traders and arrests them for street trading while the touts who extort money from motorists are left unmolested and unaddressed because they are “cooperative mobs.” Those are the Yorubas who may vote against you on Saturday. How about the Housing Estates? Who owns the choice of land on Lagos Island today? In Banana Island, Osborne Ikoyi, Lagos Atlantic etc. You have sold everything that can be sold in terms of a landed estate, so future Lagosians will wake up to pay the debts that you have generously incurred for them. What happened on February 25 was not just an Igbo affair or even a youth revolt. It was a Yoruba revolt too. Many Yorubas are aggrieved about the way APC and especially Bola Tinubu has managed Lagos State in the past few years. That was the tsunami you saw last Saturday.
You can still prevent the hurricane that is coming if you do the right thing even as late as it is, not by appealing to ethnic sentiments. It doesn’t mean anything because you really didn’t love Yorubas and the people now know it. It is left for you to do the right thing before it is late. Saturday will soon be here. Please stop appealing to Yoruba or ethnic sentiments. Use your records of achievement in the last 24 years if they are good enough. Be prepared to carry your cross. It is now payback time.
Moses Oludele Idowu, Twitter: @MosesOludele, WhatsApp: 08034697670
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