Lagos, in Southwest Nigeria, is for many Nigerians the site of the greenest pastures within the country. The clearest microcosm of Nigeria, people from all over the country are found in Lagos.

A city of hustle and bustle, it has become synonymous with striving but also strife. People leave their impoverished villages and flock to Lagos where they pick up the pieces, and go on to paint breathtaking pictures of life as they never imagined it.

If Lagos was made of sapphire on a morning when the sun streaked across the sky like a man running his course with joy, the spectators would have been people from all over Nigeria.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu was governor in Lagos State between 1999 and 2004. He grew a cult-like following while amassing unaccountable wealth. When he blinks, Lagos sleeps.

In Lagos, the unthinkable happened on February 25, 2023, when Peter Obi of the Labour Party took the state in a historic upset of Lagos which was thought to be a formality for Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu went on to win the elections but defeat in Lagos especially stung because in it was scattered the seeds of defiance of people suffocating under one man’s shadows.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s defeat in Lagos has become a rod for the backs of all those who live in Lagos but are not originally from Lagos, especially the Igbo. They have been accused of sabotaging the electoral chances of the man who practically owns Lagos by voting for Peter Obi.

The Igbo in Lagos have been called all manner of names, and asked to go back to their states because they neither voted nor supported Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Ancient animosities have been revived as the Igbo have been reminded in unmistakably minatory terms that they are sojourners in Lagos and while there must do as Lagosians do.

This tension between those who voted Bola Ahmed Tinubu  and those who voted Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar and other candidates begs the question of who owns Lagos?

The vital question of who owns Lagos leads to other urgent issues. While some Yoruba would claim Lagos as their ancestral home, they have lived side by side with the Igbo, Ijaws, Itsekiris, Hausa and other Nigerians for as long as they can remember. There was harmony until the politics of bitterness and bile made an entrance.

Lagos was once the Capital City of Nigeria before it was moved to Abuja. Renowned for its commerce, Lagos is for many people the place where the pastures are greenest in Nigeria.

Lagos is for many the location of the proverbial golden fleece. Lagos, like a fire, draws people like moths from all over the country.

There is no telling just how much those who came to Lagos searching for opportunities have contributed to the economy and ecology of one of Nigeria’s most important cities.

The uncomfortable emotions that come with defeat have a way of bringing the worst out of people. Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s defeat in Lagos has brought the worst out of his supporters who have blamed those they describe as settlers, especially the Igbo.

For Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s supporters, it is of no moment that the defeat did not matter in the grand scheme of things since their candidate took home the ultimate trophy.

What matters to them is that those they allowed to settle and do business in their states has conspired to demystify a man who they consider a god in the state.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s supporters have threatened Igbo in the state and their massive business interests. The entire saga has been an ugly repudiation of the “One Nigeria” fallacy.

For those who have kicked the hardest because Bola Ahmed Tinubu lost to Peter Obi in their morbid fear is not just for an irreversible past.  A crucial governorship election is coming up in the state on March 18, 2023.

With a party not supported by Bola Ahmed Tinubu winning the presidential election in the state for the first time since 1999, Babajide Sanwo- Olu the incumbent Governor who belongs to the All Progressives Congress (APC) is in grave danger.

Labour Party’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is his main opponent and the contest promises to be fierce. There have been threats and overtures from the camp of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, but it may just be a little too late for those whose commitment to Lagos State has been questioned simply because they are not from the state.

The is-this-your-state madness may have marched through Lagos with surprising ferocity this time around, but there have been pockets of that kind of discrimination in many states in Nigeria.

While those who preach a united Nigeria continue to speak from increasingly shaky pulpits, those who brave the odds to leave their states for other states but are increasingly reminded of their roots shake their heads dubiously.

As they do, the dream of a united Nigeria is cast into doubt.

 Kene Obiezu,

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