Unnecessary controversy surrounds Lagos Indigeneship Protection: A needless issue.

Since Mudasiru Obasa,the third term Speaker of the Lagos State house of assembly spoke on Tuesday June 6 about the intention of the tenth assembly to put the ownership and status of Lagos in proper context as regards who owns the city, tongues both decent, ill informed and ill motivated have been wagging. The barbel of tonques of the discontented were wagging not because an infringement is about to be commited against their inaeliable rights but because their entitlement attitude has given them sense of superiority.

Obasa in announcing the decision to reverse what he called reversible in Lagos Indigeneship by Yoruba now being threatened, is also trying to do what Yoruba called,” know your limit and boundary” to non indigenes. It is likened to the saying in Yoruba ,”Omo eni ki se Idi bebere,ka fi ileke si idi Omo elomiran.”Meaning,” However big your daughters buttocks,you don afix the beads in other person’s child.” The Speaker by announcing the assemblies intention to make laws and proclamations about the protection of the rights of the indigenes on economy,commerce, property and titles is sending a powerful message to those who have interpreted the cosmopolitan attitude of Yoruba, who are original owners of the land, to cowardice and in most cases foolishness,that it is time to know their boundaries.

The Yoruba also have a saying ,a ki ka eru ki Inu eru maa ba baje meaning “you don’t count slaves so they won’t become disechanted.” By the time you do that you are telling them and reminding them of where they come from. Obasa by this declaration is also telling all settlers that staying long in a place does not guarantee you ownership and rulership of it’s indigenous people and by extension a reversal and subjugation of their rights, culture and resetting of their history. Granting that as a metropolis, concentration of the educated, enlightened and literate has shaped and alter the landscape, yet it has not changed the ownership of the territory once the capital of Nigeria. The decision of the Lagos assembly to set things right with claimant to it’s territory obviously emanated from the anger brought by the last Presidential election. It was an election in which temporal victory orchestrated by a concentration of other ethnic group is translated to ownership of the territory and change of status by the indigenes. The celebration of victory couched in the contentious “No man’s Land” claim is comparable to what southerners did after both the Sardauna of Sokoto,Sir Ahmadu Bello and the late Prime Minister,Abubakar Tafawa Balewa were killed after the January 15,1966 coup.

Both the celebration and euphoria of victory by the victors on the streets of Kaduna and other major cities in the North itself is also contemptuous of their generous hosts who watched in dismay. What is more , the domineering attitude of the victors which is apparently becoming a generic issue considering their attitude to other Nigerians in other parts of the country where they are resident is instructive. That same generosity is not extended to Nigerians of other cultures in the Igbo South East is also an immediate source of Lagosians reaction to their contemptuous attempt to rewrite history and culture of other people for advantages not far from domination and eventual subjugation. Thus the assembly members are saying in Yoruba,”Igi ganganran ma gun mi loju,okeere la ti ng so….you avoid the long stick from piercing your eyes by giving it a long gap . But then,you ask yourself, even within the context of the 1999 constitution of the country, have those accusing Yoruba people of Lagos or the assembly men of being tribalistic ever read the content of the much criticised document. As obnoxious as it appears,the Land Use Act of 1978 from which even the right of ownership of land and territory in Nigerias multi lingual and multi cultural society is derived, vested control of all lands in state governors who in a way hold such in trust for the people using the local government as instrument. Section 1 of the Land Use Act provides that,”all lands comprised in the territory of each state in the Federation are vested in the Governor of that state and such shall be held in trust and administered for the use of and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provision of the Act. Furthermore,section 2 provides that,” all land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the Governor of each state and all other lands shall be under his control,”.

Now to those who are questioning Lagos assembly right and decision to enact laws to achieve the protection of their land as contained above,are they asking them to abdicate their responsibility as elected members to enact laws to defend ,protect and promote the interest of their people who voted them into office?. In spite of it’s being the fourth largest economy in Africa,would Lagos assembly men have watch by the side and allow those who trade and live in their territory determine their live for them or change their history through surreptitious subjugation?. By the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of the Act, the state government and local government are the administrators of the land and are empowered by the provisions of the Act to allocate land by granting a statutory right of occupancy to individuals and corporations. Since the general axiom “when you are in Rome behave like the Romans have not changed”,critics of Lagos assembly men decision to rule over their territory are asking them to leave their land free and subject the citizens who elected them to the whims and caprices of aliens who has less stake in the survival of it’s inherited ethos,culture and economic life. Decision of Lagos assembly is not in isolation of other thirty five states assemblies who also derive similar power from the Act to do likewise in their states. If this is so, then you ask why is Lagos different? The hold and focus on Lagos is perhaps different because those who distorted the Federation by the promulgation of Decree 34 of 1966 which threw the federal constitution under the bed are determined to rein themselves on others with the I’ll advised Unification decree. If the decree promulgated by the late Major General Aguiyi Ironsi had been allowed to be operated in it’s original form,it would have given undue advantage to alien tribes intent on subjugating the indigenes of Lagos-a purely Yoruba territory as emphasized by Obasa. If after 57 years,those who threw away the federal constitution are still bent on dominating others,while protecting their own territory,then their is no justifiable reason to criticised or question those who own the territory from taking legal steps to protect their enclave.

Now, the question is why is it that whenever any of the South West states take steps to protect and assert their right on their territory,other regions especially the South East always cry foul.? You then ask yourself why should the SW continue to bear the injustices of Unitary constitution imposed on the country by the military through the misadventure of January 15,1966,?. The only way to reposition and reorder the country and put it on proper federal ethos is for the thirty five other states assemblies to enact laws necessary for their survival in their geographical enclave without allowing others to distort their existence. Today,Lagos is relatively free of violence and instability in spite of it’s cosmopolitan nature. This is in contrast to the fate that has dodged some states with less cosmopolitan status. We are running a federation where lands belong to Governors and nobody else. When the capital of Nigeria was moved to Abuja in 1991, many wrote that Lagos has died a natural death. The contrary is the case today as the population of the city has more than double what it was in 1991. People just have to abide by the laws, values,culture and norms of the place where they settled. Oko Kiije ti Baba tomo ko maa ni aala meaning “However big a farm is there must be a line of demarcation between father and son”. Don’t go to other people’s clime,dictate to them how you want to live and destroy their values. Let all Nigerians learn to respect each other and live in peace with love with their hosts and neighbours. If other states in other regions of Nigeria are as loving,accomodating and peaceful as SW states, Nigeria will be a better place today. Eko o lo si ibikan,aromisa legbe,legbe. Lagos has all the natural and physical endowments to attract and accommodate more settlers and investors so far those coming abide by its laws. The onus still rest on its lawmakers to take steps to protect their indigenes in their geographical sphere of influence so far such steps are not in violation of the federal constitution of the country in spite of it’s imperfections.

Source: New Dawn Nigeria