Lagos is situated in the South West region of Nigeria with a population of over 16 million people. Lagos is the most populous state on the African continent and one of the fastest growing cities in the world with an internally- generated revenue of N34 billion monthly.
The origin of Lagos has its roots to the ancient Benin Kingdom domiciled in Edo State today. Lagos has been the home of different tribes, ethnic groups who have lived in peace for centuries. Virtually every area in Lagos has an historic origin with an Oba (King) who rules over the areas and the Eleko of Eko (Oba of Lagos) being the Chairman of the Council of Chiefs and Obas. Various traditional festivals happen in almost every area of Lagos; the Eyo festival is the most prominent of festivals. Prominent Obas in Lagos include the Olu of Epe, Akran of Badagry, Olofin of Isheri, the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, the Olu of Ikeja, Oloto of Otto kingdom and a host of others. They are the custodian of the culture and tradition of their people. To then say, Lagos is a no man’s land, is utterly incorrect.
The Igbo people are an ethnic group domiciled in the present day south central and south eastern part of Nigeria. Geographically, the Igbo homeland is divided into two unequal sections by the Niger River. The Igbos are known to be business people and are excellent traders in any sector they find themselves. They dominate the market space and it is said that, there is no market in the Nigerian hemisphere that you won’t find an Igbo man trading successfully.
Elections season brings a lot of drama and idiosyncrasies. Why is it that the Yorubas and Igbos are always at each other’s throat during election season in Lagos? The APC had shown tolerance to other tribes by one time appointing an Igbo man as a commissioner and the APC spokesman in Lagos has been Igbo for several years. So, what then is the problem?
In my point of view, population equates political strength. Numbers are very important on who emerge victorious in an election. The Igbos have strategically dominated some certain areas in Lagos and often determine who wins elections in those areas due to their population and the Yorubas see this as a dangerous trend in their land. The Igbos have legitimately occupied those areas by owning properties and contributing immensely to the growth and revenue of Lagos. The argument thus, is that the Igbos do not accommodate other tribes such as the Yorubas to own properties or settle in Igbo land because most land are ancestral, and Igbos deeply hold their cultural beliefs.
The Yorubas are known to be very accommodative and I sincerely do not see that changing. If a man comes into your house and dominates your house, you are to be blamed. The world is globalized and that is why we can travel to the United States and one day become citizens, bestowed with all the possible benefits citizenship entails. Obama who is originally from Kenya became the president of the most powerful nation in the world. The Yorubas should strengthen the relationship with the Igbos, make them understand the Yoruba culture and way of life and the Igbos should also accommodate Yorubas in Igbo land. Peaceful cohesion is possible, we all need each other to move forward. Tribes and ethnic groups division will further degenerate Nigeria and not strengthen it. After the just concluded presidential election, the I am North slogan trended on social media, which is a way to further separate Nigerians. Can the North do it alone, I ask? We all need each other. Nigeria should be united and not always divided along ethnic or religion lines.
Dr.Folawiyo Kareem Olajoku,
Development Economist, Osun