Only a New Race of People Can Successfully Fight Graft in Nigeria

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At 84, Alhaji Olufemi Lateef Okunnu still boasts an incredible presence of mind. Nifty and witty, his capacity for recollection is exceptional. A former federal Commissioner for Works and Housing in 1960, a position he held till the late 60s, Alhaji Okunnu is a lawyer of note and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria at that. He once served as the pro-chancellor and chairman, governing council of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi in Benue State. Best described as an encyclopedia on the history of Lagos and Nigeria, the proud alumnus of the prestigious Kings College, Lagos, was later appointed Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1981. But he has since his public service engagement returned to private practice, where he has continued to offer invaluable legal expertise, even at his old age. Gracious to grant this audience even at the shortest notice, Alhaji Okunnu evidently has a lot to talk about concerning the state of affairs in the nation and his beloved Lagos, which is still in the mood of celebration of its 50 years of creation. He was deep, thoughtful, precise with dates and names, and blunt about where he stands on all issues, especially the state of affairs in the country. Taking the duo of Olawale Olaleye and Anayo Okolie through his pent up disappointment on today’s Nigeria, Alhaji Okunnu soon dropped the bombshell: ‘only an entirely new race of people can successfully combat corruption’. His reasons are not far-fetched and they can be located in this interesting interview. Excerpts:

 Lagos is 50 and as a former federal commissioner for works and housing, you played a major role in the development of the state. Are there reminiscences that share closely with the 21st century Lagos?

Before I come to my appointment as federal commissioner for works and housing, I think we should go back to history about Lagos State Movement. First of all, I will like to say that the British had three colonies in Nigeria as at 1st January 1900: the colony of Lagos, which was established in 1861, the protectorate of Northern Nigeria, established 1st January 1900 and the protectorate of Southern Nigeria, also established on 1st January 1900. At that time the British had three distinct colonies in Nigeria. In 1906, the colony of Lagos and the protectorate of Southern Nigeria were merged, but not administratively. It was a merger really more on paper, just like the amalgamation of 1914, which was also a merger largely on paper headed by one person, the Governor General, Lord Lugard.

The administration of the three British colonies remained distinct; they were separate by and large. Lagos, in 1947, the time of Richard’s Constitution, remained a distinct administrative unit under the British government. I remember vividly that the administrator for Lagos colony was one Mr. E.A Carr and his deputy was Major J. C Allen, who used to coach the students cricket at CMS Grammar School. So, the administration of Lagos colony had remained intact not only integrated into the Nigerian administration.

In effect the three units had three separate administrations even as at 1947. So, the Lagos colony remained distinct and all those who were born in Lagos remained British Citizens until independence. They had full rights of citizenship like any Briton anywhere in the world. That distinction is very important to show the distinctiveness of Lagos since it was colonised by the British in 1861. People talk loosely as if Lagos had been fully integrated into Nigeria. I read recently a few days ago, that Lagos remained part of the Western Region until its creation as a state. That is not true.

Lagos remained a distinct colony until 1920, under the Macpherson constitution. The colony of Lagos is about the same size as the present Lagos State. Lagos colony was merged with the Western region in 1950 and in 1954 after the Gedegbe l’Eko wa (Lagos is standing alone) agitations by Lagosians, that they were not really a part of Western region and that they were distinct, so, the city of Lagos was excised from the colony province, which was incorporated under the Western Province under the Macpherson Constitution. John Macpherson was the governor from 1948 to 1954 (Governor of Nigeria), so the city of Lagos was a town at that time. It was taken out of the Western region and made the federal territory and the regional government of the federal territory of Lagos became the federal government. The remaining part of the colony province, that is the Epe, Badagry and Ikeja divisions remained as colony province until 1967, when Lagos State was created.

Quickly, let me go back to the gedegbe l’Eko wa slogan. The first serious advocacy for Lagos to become a state was in 1960. There was Lagos State Movement created by some young men at that time, all of them now deceased. They included Mr. H.M. Ali Balogun, a lawyer and a member of the Ali Balogun family at Victoria Street.

Kasali Kotun was a brilliant lawyer, who incidentally paid my fees for admission to practice law in Nigeria. He lived at No. 6 Ido Oluwo Street and my father’s house was No 1. Ido Oluwo Street. He saw me saw me grow up as a child. A brilliant lawyer, KK was a popular appellation for him. His father, Ajiroba, after whom this street (Alhaji Okunnu’s office address) was named, was Karimu Ikotun.

Another person I will like to remember, because it is good to remember the past and the people who were there should be honoured. We are honouring those of us who are living, forgetting about the dead, who made Lagos State possible. The third person was popularly called “Black Prince”, Prince Akintoye, one of the sons of Oba Kunle Akintoye II. He became Oba when Esugbayi Eleko was exiled by the British. He, however, won his case in the British council later and that led to his return at about 1932 (he was exiled about 1925).

So, Black Prince was one of the founders of the Lagos State Movement. The fourth one was known by everybody when he was alive, TOS Benson. There were others but these were the moving spirits. Before I became commissioner, there had been follow-up of what started in the early ‘50s. After the war, I was very much involved with the movement for the creation of Lagos State, especially after the coup. Bolaji Johnson was made the administrator of Lagos, at that time the country was in asunder. Whether we remained as one or different countries, Yakubu Gowon’s government, you remember, took over in July 1966, because of the chaos in the country, with the Eastern region threatening to secede; now one thing led to another, Major Bolaji Johnson added another thing, he set up two bodies as it were; the group of elders and the group of young people.

For the purpose of the ad-hoc constitutional congress, they were composed of five Nigerians from each region (western, eastern, northern and mid-western), five delegates and five advisers. Lagos was given the slot of two delegates and two advisers. From the elders group was Dr. Teslim Elias, who later became commissioner for justice and Lateef Jakande. What followed was deliberation to see whether Nigeria would stand still as a nation or break away to separate bits. The idea of Lagos being a state occupied that part of our deliberation until the life of the conference was terminated.

Very quickly, by early 1967, Gen. Gowon was still the head of state and the agitation for states was still very much alive, so was the issue of dividing the country into confederate states. The East was still very much agitating for a separate country. The declaration of succession in May 1967 led to Gen. Gowon declaring the makeup of Nigeria in administrative terms from regions to states, and it painted a choice structure. It is significant to say that Lagos State in geographical term remained as it was 100 years ago.

Let me pay tribute to Gen. Gowon, he created Lagos State. People don’t honour him for that, even a street named after him – Broad Street – was changed by another regime, which I think is spite – lack of appreciation of history as it were. He created Lagos State and I haven’t heard much about him in the celebration of the state at 50. Two, other people, who were very much associated with the creation of Lagos State and who are still alive are Allison Ayida and Philip Asiodu. These two people and a few other people made the creation of Lagos State possible. They are Nigerians like me, but when you now talk about indigenes of one state or the other, which I don’t really buy, they are not indigenes of Lagos State, though they lived and are still living in Lagos State.

Asiodu married one of us and he is still alive. Without them, there will be no Lagos State, so, let’s celebrate them. At the beginning of the conference, only mid-Western region opted for a federal system of government. Lagos State was split because Jakande wanted the regional system, but Teslim Elias and my humble self were inclined to the federal system of government. The North was for confederation like the East, so also was the West. So, towards the end of the conference, when the North embraced the federal system of government, Lagos State and Western region followed suit immediately. The Mid-Western region had always been for the federal system under Tony Enahoro, it was only the Eastern region that stood its grounds on confederation or nothing. One thing led to another and on 27th May, 1967, Gen. Gowon abolished the regions and created a 12 State structure, which included Lagos State.

How does someone like you feel when people say that there are no true indigenous citizens of Lagos State?

I am a Nigerian. There are a very few of us, who are Nigerians now, every other person is either an Ijaw, Urohobo, Igbo, Idoma, Tiv, Hausa or Yoruba. But that wasn’t the Nigeria of my youth. There was nothing like all these new found Urhobos, Igbos, Yorubas and so on. We were all one. Nigerian politics equated Lagos politics. Lagos was Nigeria in those days; no politics in Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan or any other part of the country; it was Lagos, which was cosmopolitan. There were two major political parties: the Nigerian Youth Movement and Democratic Party of Nigeria and NCNC which was created in 1944, following the strike action by the students of Kings College.

Lagos or Nigerian politics at that time did not entertain ethnicity, so where you came from was irrelevant. The people living in Lagos elected Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in Lord Milverton (Arthur Richards) legislative council, under the platform of Democratic Party/NCNC alliance. From the same platform, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, a son of Akarigbo of Shagamu, Ijebu Remo was elected 2nd Lagos member. Dr. Yinka Olorunimbe, who you can say is indeed an indigenous Lagosian was elected 3rd Lagos member. So, Zik, born in Zungeru in the Northern part of Nigeria, while his parents were from Onitsha in the Eastern part, became the 1st elected member of the legislative council in Lagos. That was the Lagos I grew up in.

Mallam Umaru Altine from Northern Nigeria became the first Mayor of Enugu and Dr. Ajibade, whose roots were in Lagos, was a councillor in Port Harcourt. I pray that Nigeria would go back to those old days and not these days of ethnicity.

Since the return to civil rule in 1999, what is your impression about the administration of Lagos?

Brigadier Bolaji Johnson laid a sound foundation upon the creation of Lagos State. It was not easy to move from one part of Lagos to another. To get to Badagry, the Western part of Lagos State, you had to travel 1st to Otta by road because there was no road directly linking Badagry from Lagos. So, his first achievement was to actualise the plan of Lagos Executive Development Plan (LEDP) between Lagos and Badagry. There were others, who laid good foundations for Lagos before 1999. Bolaji stands out clearly as one of them.

Well, there have been rapid developments in the state since 1999. A clear example is where we are today, Victoria Island. By clear regulation, Victoria Island consisted of buildings of not more than two floors – the ground and first floors, except for the commercial area. Commercial areas in Victoria Island at that time comprised Sanusi Fafunwa, by Ademola Alakija by Hopewell Street back to Sanusi Fafunwa. Those were the only areas that could have more than two floors. But they were not more than four floors at best.

If you compare it with what we have today, with the 30 storey office blocks at Akin Adesola, Victoria Island was purely residential, but now it is wholly commercial with sky rise buildings, and if you go down from Victoria Island to Lekki, Ajah, you will see the physical evidence of developments. So, in terms of developments, yes there have been developments over the years since the return to civil rule.

Let’s go to the national front. Two years of the administration of the APC government, do you think the narrative is actually changing?

There has been little change. APC is a collection of likes and unlikes, so there is no cohesion in party policy and execution of policies. APC, remember, was an amalgam of AC, CPC, ANPP, PDP – all the disgruntled members of these other parties coming together with opposition party, it has not really changed colour because the dispute among the leadership still reflects their earlier background and that makes governance of the country impossible. Evidence of that was soon after the election, there was a problem as to who would become the leader of the Senate, and we landed with a divided Senate, and we ended up with a Senate leader, who had support from opposition party and the ruling party, that is not how it should be.

So, the house is not in order yet, the same thing happened in the House of Representatives and to make matters worse, the Legislature assumes the role of not only the legislature but also of the Executive. They have invaded the Executive areas of government. They are not just legislating; they are also executing projects and they dabble into Executive functions. That is utter confusion at Abuja. A clear example is constituency projects. There should be nothing like constituency projects. The Executive is to execute the works not the legislators, and it amounts to a clear abuse. So who is governing, executing or legislating? There is some confusion.

But what the lawmakers do most of the time is to identify projects that their people need and ask the executive to execute it.

It is not their business. There is nowhere in the world that practises a federal system – South Africa, Canada, Ghana, Australia even the Soviet Russia or Germany – there is nowhere, where the legislators involve themselves with execution of works. I know what I am talking about. I was federal commissioner of works for almost eight years, although that was during the war years and military rule. Legislators don’t execute works.

One of the promises of this administration while canvassing for votes in 2015 was to battle corruption and that is almost becoming a mess now if it is not already in that state. What can you make of the fight against corruption?

I wouldn’t call it a mess. The President has spent only two years in office and I believe only two or three of his promises are to fight corruption, combat insecurity and to revive the economy. In the area of corruption, I think he is making some leeway. Corruption is fighting back but he is making effort. The legal process slows down the fight on corruption. To pronounce someone guilty when the court says he is not guilty and not before – all these processes slow down the fight against corruption. There are other aspects that you can be a bit critical about. We hear of all these huge sums of money. You can’t even believe when you hear about $21billion, it is just unimaginable! You begin to wonder if Nigeria has that much money, but they found that amount cash in some places.

So, the fight against corruption is not a fight for four years, it will take quite a long time because Nigerians don’t learn lessons. We made corruption something to be proud of. We don’t learn from those that had been charged with corruption in the past and disgraced. These days corruption is a matter of pride. Somebody sentenced to prison and comes out of prison, goes straight to the church to worship and dances with people celebrating with him. Someone charged on corruption abroad returns to Nigeria and people are happy to welcome him back? Corruption is now like a badge of honour, which people now proudly showcase round the society.

So, corruption fight is going to take many years; it will outlive Buhari. Until we create a new race of people with civic education for people at schools at the grassroots and for those of us, who are grownups to have extra mural classes and turn us into Nigerians and not Igbos, Yorubas or Hausas; to love one another, to love our country, to work for our country and not to work for our pockets, not to steal public funds but to regard public funds as sacred, entrusted to you to manage for our general good.

Today, it is just me and me alone. So, it is a huge battle. We haven’t even started civic education, so, the children that are in primary and secondary schools and see the man, who has been charged with corruption, been to prison and comes out to still be heartily accepted by the society, will also want to join the cue. So, until you go down and start huge civic education for young and old, corruption will not disappear.

As a lawyer of note, how did you feel when some justices and judges were put up for trial?

I felt very sad. It hardly happened in my time as a young lawyer. It was rare. Even before I was born, we didn’t read about what we now have here today. Judges, in my younger days, hardly lived in societies. You won’t see them; they won’t attend parties – very rarely, grudgingly close friends. But you will see judges dancing before the musician in public now. Nigerian judges, who followed up British judges kept to themselves. They were anti-social, for obvious reasons not to be contaminated by the society, and not to be seen with people who might appear before them next morning in court.

So, they became what more or less you call Eleha (women in purdah) in Muslim community to themselves alone. Unfortunately, you find some of the young persons on the bench now all over the place. That is part of the problem, and then societal problem of corruption is eating into the bones of average Nigerians. Well, I do hope that some of them who don’t answer to the description of the old time judges I met – the bad eggs will break, leaving the good eggs to produce the golden eggs.

Do you think the judiciary can bounce back from this?

I think they can bounce back, if society also bounces back at least, a little to what it used to be. Things were not that bad as they are today. I wouldn’t think that any judge that has the tendency to be corrupt will develop that tendency now. You see the sad sight of judges being hounded like thieves, who normally appeared before them. That sad sight I hope would pull those who have the tendency to be corrupt to desist.

Still talking corruption, what can you make of the recent discovery of a total sum of N13.3billion at a flat in Ikoyi?

When I remember the salary of a federal commissioner in my time, this huge figure, I can’t fathom. The salary of a commissioner in my time was 3000 pounds per annum. It is really a huge dent on the society that huge sums were hoarded by some persons/organisations in residential buildings, apparently for corrupt practices. Anyone with any huge sum or sums like that should keep his money in the bank.

But when such monies were not found in the bank, they must be there for corrupt practices. I hope that after this initial sanitation, which Buhari is carrying out, such incidence will be reduced to the barest minimum, because such corruption cannot be wiped out entirely. We can only hope, fight and pray that such corruption will be reduced to the barest minimum. It is unbelievable and I hope that whistleblowers will blow more to expose such corrupt practices. It is mind boggling!

One of the debates that have come up on the political turf is the confirmation of the chairman of the EFCC, which has been put forward before the Senate twice and turned down the two times. We have also had lawyers come up to say that the Senate does not really need to confirm these persons before they can do their job; that they can actually go on in acting capacity. This has remained one of the things that the Senate has taken seriously as an encroachment on their rights as an institution.

Well, maybe both sides have not read their constitution appropriately, but if it is the same constitution, which Abdulsalam put together in 1999; if it is the same constitution, I can’t find anywhere in the constitution which enjoins the presidency to submit the name of chairman of the EFCC to Senate for confirmation. Section 153 of the constitution lists a large number from code of conduct bureau to revenue mobilisation, allocation and fiscal commission; it is the chairmen of these bodies who must be confirmed under section 154 of the constitution by the Senate.

Section 171 also contains this information about presidential appointments. That section 171 makes no reference to confirmation by the Senate. I understand that there was amendment or is it pronouncement, that the Federal Executive Council approved the number of government agencies, whom the appointment of their chairmen must be approved or screened by the Senate.

Now, if this list approved by the FEC was not made part of the constitution, it is of no consequence whatsoever. If you want to amend the constitution, you go by the normal process of 2/3 of the State Houses of Assembly, 2/3 of the National Assembly to amend the constitution. Even if the pronouncement was passed by the National Assembly, until section 153, 154 and 171 are amended to include these agencies of government, they are invalid. The constitution prevails. So, it is not even law yet. Approval by the FEC is approval by the FEC, nobody can enforce such decision of the FEC unless it is made into law, and if it is made into law, it will still be included in the constitution to have that effect. So, to me submitting the list of the chairman for confirmation is an exercise.

But the EFCC, being a creation of the Obasanjo administration, is also an act of the National Assembly?

That doesn’t matter. For approval, it must be included in the list in section 153 of the constitution before the Senate can confirm or deny the appointment of the chairman, whose name has been submitted by the presidency. The constitution is supreme; it overrides any law. If there is any conflict, precedent belongs to the constitution. So, for the president to submit the list, maybe he was not properly legally advised. And incidentally, the childish instruction by the Senate that one of these officers for invitation must wear uniform, I find it to be unworthy of the Nigerian Senate.

Presidents in the world now wear shirts without ties. Watch the numerous television stations and you will find presidents casually dressed. So, must you say that if one is not in uniform, you won’t attend to him? Is he a primary school boy? As long as the man is decently and properly dressed, you don’t need to put on a tie let alone put on a uniform. Is it the uniform that you want to address or the man himself? That shows the level of education of these young men and women in our various legislatures and the level of exposure to the civilised world.

What’s your take on the continuous detention of Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu against the provisions of the rule of law?

Dasuki, if he is corrupt and the court says grant him bail, the government must obey as long as he conforms to the terms of the bail and there is no chance of his running away from the country. I don’t know the specific charges against Kanu, the IPOB man. If he is charged with treasonable felony, which is a crime against the state, bail is pretty difficult.

Talking about Kanu, I don’t see the sense in the fight for Biafra. All I can deduce from all I have been reading is greed. If you are being marginalised, it doesn’t mean you should go to war against the state. You have people you vote for in the various legislatures, who can fight your course. This idea of marginalization, I simply do not understand. The Yoruba, Igbo and even the Hausa say that they are being marginalized; everybody is being marginalized. Who is marginalising who? It is all greed for power.

These young boys like Kanu don’t know what the Igbo speaking people would lose in a place like Lagos as an independent state. I was privileged to lead the Nigerian delegation at the key talks between 1968 and 1970. I left the Key talks to Niamey in May 1968. I took over the leadership of the Nigerian delegation in Addis-Ababa in August  from Tony Enahoro, who was there for only one week before he abandoned me there for the remaining five weeks to face the delegation that was first led by Ojukwu himself and later Prof. Eni Njoku.

I led the delegation to Monrovia, I think in April 1969 with Sir Loius Mbanefo, a distinguished Nigerian and judge. He led the Biafran delegation to the peace talks. Kanu didn’t see war; he doesn’t know what war is all about. We all read about the war in Syria and the war all over the place; the devastation of human lives by terrorists in the Middle East. I wouldn’t wish that Nigeria goes through another civil war like they did between 1967 and 1970. If Biafra becomes a sovereign State, imagine what will become of the assets of a large number of Biafrans in Abuja and Lagos. They will become foreign persons; they won’t be citizens of Nigeria. I can’t think of it.

Having said all that, I hope that we all will go back to the fundamentals that existed in the 40s and 50s and stop ethnicity as a political weapon, it is destroying the country. As I said earlier, Zik was not elected first Lagos member to the legislative council because he was an Igbo man, he was elected because he was a Nigerian, and at that time the rising star of Africa, an African leader. Nkrumah and Mandela came much later. He was elected by the overwhelming support of Yoruba people, even Prince Adedoyin from Shagamu was elected by Lagosians; they didn’t say only Ijebu people should vote for him.

I witnessed it all as a young boy, secondary school age. I witnessed the campaign and electioneering with Madam Oluwole on horseback. I was watching the voting taking place at Glover hall, at the building in Marina, which housed Foreign Affairs, I don’t know if it is there now. People voted and were voted for as Nigerians. Chief Awolowo with Chief Oni Akerele founded “Egbe Omo Oduduwa” as a cultural organisation, not to be involved in politics. He might have used it as a stepping stone to founding his Action Group (AG), he didn’t use Egbe Omo Oduduwa to my mind, and as I saw it, as a political weapon.

It was Action Group (AG) he confined its base to the western region. That’s where he lost the support of people like me. I am a Nigerian, an African. In my student days, we prided ourselves as Africans, who happened to come from Nigeria. Zik didn’t use Igbo state union, he used the Nigerian Democratic Party founded by the likes of Hubert Macaulay in the early 20’s to fight elections to bring forth legislative council in 1923. Nigerian Democratic Party and NCNC, which was formed following the strike action by the students of Kings College in 1944, when leaders from different areas gathered to fight the course of the students, who were conscripted into the war – that was his own platform.

Incidentally, the first state union founded in Nigeria was Ibibio State Union, and its primary aim was to collect money and send to students overseas to study. Sir Udo Udoma, the father of the present minister of budget and planning, a distinguished jurist, was the first student to benefit from the scholarship of Ibibio State Union. So, the ethnic groups, either Egbe Omo Oduduwa or Igbo State Union or Ibibio State Union were not used as political weapons against the British. Why do we now bring ethnicity to the forefront?

Ethnicity which divides but never unites the country. After the death of Hubert Macaulay, Zik enjoyed more support from the Yoruba speaking people than from the Igbo speaking people. Oyo, Ijebu and Abeokuta were more NCNC than AG. So, why must we now use ethnicity to gain power? You want power in your own bedroom or backyard, power for what? Nigeria will never be a great country until we go back to the fundamentals – me and you – whatever our language or ethnicity, until we regard ourselves as Nigerians, Nigeria will never be termed great, because the division will be inbuilt.

Let me add this: have you ever seen a Chinese anywhere in the world who will tell you that he is from Shantung, Peking or Shanghai? 1.4billion of them, yet a Chinese is a Chinese anywhere in the world. He won’t tell you he is from this ethnic group or the other, never. Have you ever seen an Indian, who will tell you I am a *Butarati or Mumbai? 1.3billion people yet an Indian is an Indian. Why should we Nigerians be so ethnicity conscious? You ask an average Nigerian young man or lady and you just can’t help but notice the ethnicity. You are a Nigerian first of all, then, any other additional information can follow.

China, today, is the second best economy, while Nigeria is one hundred and something, we would remain so until we create a Nigerian nation, forget about ethnicity. Those who cry ethnicity want power not for the people but for their own selfish means. So, you the media have a huge task to make Nigerians out of us. Finally, don’t bring in religion. That is another killer. Leave us in peace let everybody worship God in his own way. Don’t bring it into politics. Let it be what it used to be. Lagos was Nigeria in the 40s and early 50s. I cherish the Lagos of those days. No discrimination, no voting because you are a Christian or Muslim.

Let me say this about the herdsmen, apply the law. You can’t come to my land and destroy my crops, you are a trespasser. You have no right to move from where you live to use your cows to cause accidents on the roads and deaths; it might apply in the olden days when things were what they were, but these days, there should not be any roaming cattle.

During Ileya (Eid-el-Kabir or Sallah) they bring them by train. So, you should bring your cattle from Niger or Chad by train and not by road or through farmlands to the centres, where they are needed. They are not to commit trespass on other people. I was happy that Olu Falae’s attackers met the full force of the law. Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Seriki Hausa, Oba Yoruba should disappear, and government should not give them any inch to try again. They are also disintegrating agents.

In time past in Kano, you had Sabo for southern dwellers in the city and it was in this place that you had Oba Yoruba or Eze Igbo. But in recent times, we have a new customary law, there should be nothing in the like of Oba Yoruba or Eze Igbo outside your state. You should rather respect the traditional head of anywhere you find yourself. Few years ago I was invited to Iga Idugaran, the palace of the Oba of Lagos, on the occasion of a courtesy visit by traditional rulers from the Eastern Central States in the country, and they pleaded that the Oba does not give room for any Eze Ndigbo in Lagos as they undermine their authority as traditionally installed rulers back home in the East.

Those who organise Ohaneze in Lagos for example, are doing so purely for political reasons – to let Igbo speaking people vote for whichever political party they want them to. That is the only purpose they organise themselves. I am vehemently opposed to it.