It would have been appropriate to disregard Fani-Kayode’s vitriolic comments on the fallout of the Lagos deportation. But on a second thought, they represent his worries, the ethnic nationality question and more importantly, the persistent failure of Nigeria to deal with her past. Castigating him isn’t it, showing him the other side may help. His major worry is, who owns Lagos? This is no problem. If the Jebusites inhabited Lagos, then it’s the Jebus’; if the Yorubas inhabited it, then it belongs to the Yorubas. That’s it. It’s not a reason to display so much hatred against another.
The other side is, Lagos was Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). What does it mean to be a Capital Territory? What rights fell on others by virtue of that status? In this answer lies the answer. Fani sees it purely from indigenous people’s point of view but others may have more information on its FCT character. That’s what the experts have to tell us. Going by what I see in Abuja, it’s difficult to say from face-value where FCT stops and the indigenous society starts.
The issue at stake is deporting Nigerians from one state to another and worse still, in a most dehumanizing manner. He left this important aspect and began scooping inflammable history capable of causing interethnic disaffection. There’s no section of Nigeria he didn’t attempt to incite against the Igbo and in some instances, justified pogroms committed against them by the north. It’s a shock that he habours such titanic Hutu-animosity. Hutu is the tribe that tried to exterminate Tutsis in Rwanda.
The thing about dehumanization is, it removes the ‘being’ from the ‘human’ and turns the human being to an ‘it’. Then s/he becomes an object with no feeling attached to whatever is done to it, the same way there’s no feeling when you’re cutting a piece of wood. When a government takes a people and dumps them on the road to no one’s care, such people have become objects and the being in them detached. In justifying this act, that’s the thing wrong with Fani’s contribution. Besides, he hardly proffers solution; he merely scoops problems, stokes them and brands them ‘facts from a servant of truth’. If he can’t acknowledge that Igbos have contributed to the development of Lagos, then his truth is half-truth.
There are areas he’s very right. It’s wrong for Igbos not to have consciously honoured Adekunle Fajuyi till date. Fajuyi is an integral part of Igbo history- the man who sacrificed his life for Ironsi, an Igbo to live. In the end, both were slaughtered by the northerners. It’s an insensitive negligence. That presented an opportunity for understanding between peoples, missing it, accentuated the relational void. But the mistake both ethnic groups make is leaving their fate in the hands of politicians. I don’t know if there are structures where non-government actors discuss issues of mutual interest.
He accused Igbos of having an attitude of, ’we own everything’, ’we must have everything’ and ’we must control everything’. That’s not correct. An Igbo hates dependence and being an everlasting tenant, so he works to free himself from servitude. If he’s the entrepreneurial type, he delves into business to expand his fortune. So it’s not an attitude, rather an offshoot of self-developmental process, unless Fani is prescribing docility as a preferred alternative. Many others, including Yorubas who have carefully observed this path to survival, especially for the less privileged are developing at a fast rate. Besides, they’re practically saying, we can’t wait on government whose care for the people’s wellbeing is shadowy.
From his citation of Sina Byron’s account, Igbo population in Lagos before the war wasn’t more than a few thousands. This confirms my earlier assertion that increased Igbo presence in Lagos is a result of calculated government action to emasculate the East and Lagos being the FCT was the safe place to go, it’s not as a result of the hospitality of Lagosians. That’s not however to deny that they can’t be hospitable.
It’d be nice if Fani and his co-travelers flee from their Hutu instincts. His writings are enough to enlist and stir people into hate drives and therefore, a disservice.
What they don’t know is the political fallout of these. Now onwards, the PDP is going to label them a hate-party and with other East-prone parties on slate, their dominance of Lagos politics will be bruised/halted.
By: Onyebuchi Onyegbule