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Obi-Datti Campaign Cautions Against Stoking Ethnic Tension in Lagos

Obi-Datti Campaign Cautions Against Stoking Ethnic Tension in Lagos

•Urges supporters to remain calm in face of provocation

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation yesterday cautioned against the use of ethnicity as a weapon in coming Saturday’s governorship election in Lagos state by some politicians.

In a press statement signed by the Director General of the Labour Party (LP) presidential campaign council, Akin Osuntokun, the party implored politicians promoting and hoping to profit from ‘weaponising’ ethnic hatred in the state to desist, stressing that the world has moved beyond their primitive antics.

Contending that the world was changing fast, the LP noted that Nigerians must learn to live in peace and celebrate their diversity and called on members to be calm even if they face provocation.

Osuntokun stated that being self-restrained and calm amid provocation is not cowardice or naivety but evidence of higher emotional intelligence, urging LP members not to play into the hands of those in panic mode who want to promote violence so that elections would be manipulated.

He alleged that there had been a contrived ethnic tension in Lagos state since the outcome of the last presidential election, in which its presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, performed above the expectations of  critics and consequently set some political parties on a panic mode.

LP added that the panic mode was further accentuated by their knowledge of its real performance in the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, not by the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“In Lagos, the fear factor being currently stoked and weaponised is that the Igbos would take over Lagos if LP wins Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections.

“In their desperation, they are even shamelessly questioning the ‘Yoruba-ness’ of our candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, ( GRV) despite the fact that he is from one of the best known families in Lagos, whose ancestral tree can be traced to over 200 years.

“This begs the question of how exactly this taking over of Lagos by the Igbos would occur. Would the Igbos physically carry Lagos and transfer the city and its infrastructure to the South-eastern part of the country? Will the Igbos put guns on the heads of the Yorubas in Lagos and ask them to hand over their lands to them because Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is the Governor?

“Will Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour as governor denounce his father, grandfather, and his entire Vivour ancestry and find another father and grandfather from Igboland if he wins?, Osuntokun queried.

According to him, desperate politicians have played up the changing demographics arising from the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos and falsely concluded that the huge population of the Igbo was responsible for the All Progressives Congress (APC) losing the state on the February 25, 2023 elections.

But he argued that the truth was that more Yoruba people than Igbo voted for LP presidential candidate on that day because they want good governance and for Lagos to be freed from the stranglehold of a criminal syndicate.

“In our increasingly globalised world, it is difficult to find pristine communities or primitive communal societies in which everyone in the community is related by blood.

“Given the status of Lagos as the commercial capital of the country and its history as a former political and administrative capital, it is naturally a magnet for people and businesses looking for greener pastures.

 “Let us bear in mind that all the state capitals in the country – from Kano to Abeokuta to Lagos and Jalingo – tend to have a high proportion of non-indigenes relative to the original owners of the place because people move to areas of better economic advantages,” the LP stated.

As people and businesses migrate,  the LP said they also become part of their new societies. This , it said that for instance, it is why in the United Kingdom today several top politicians including  the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Olukemi Olufunto “Kemi” Badenoch are all children or grandchildren of immigrants.

It stated that the story is not different in the United States where several Nigerians are in President Joe Biden’s cabinet, and where the Vice President, Kamala Harris, has Asian ancestry.

Remarkably, the LP campaign stressed that those fanning the embers of ethnic discord in Lagos  – just to avoid their party being humiliated a second time –  are themselves non indigenes of Lagos.

“Let us imagine what Lagos would be without the Igbos and other non-indigenes. Across the world, the role of immigrants in the development of the society is now being increasingly acknowledged despite the anti-immigration rhetoric of right-wing politicians.

“ In the USA for instance, more than half of the most valuable start-up companies were founded by immigrants, according to figures by the National Foundation for American Policy.

“According to their findings, immigrants have started more than half (319 of 582, or 55 per cent) of America’s start-up companies valued at $1 billion or more. The research also found that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of US billion-dollar companies (unicorns) were founded or cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants,” the party stated.

Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the LP stated that research shows that of the seven unicorns in the UK’s 100 fastest growing companies, five have at least one foreign- born co-founder.

“ The desperate politicians playing up the politics of hate will never tell you of the employment the profiled ethnic groups provide, the businesses and companies they set up and the taxes they pay – all of which contribute to making Lagos what it is today,” the party added.

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