Igbo-Yoruba Relations: The Example Of Fashola

Igbo-Yoruba Relations: The Example Of Fashola

Monday, March 2, 2015 12:06 pm

By Modestus Umenzekwe

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State is one of the most important revelations in Nigeria since the restoration of democratic rule in 1999. He always reminds us of the management skills of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the foresight of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the nationalist disposition of Herbert Macaulay and the dynamism of Dr Michael Okpara. The evidence of his leadership of Lagos State in the past seven and a half years is there for all to see. He has set the standard by which not only his successors but also other state governors will be judged.

We thank him for what he has done to enhance national integration, starting with deepening Igbo-Yoruba relations. The longest serving member of the Lagos State Executive Council is Pastor Ben Akabueze from Anambra State. He is the Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget. He performs functions which are critical to the ongoing transformation of Lagos State. One of the longest serving chief executives of a government organization in the state is Engineer Joe Igbokwe, the head of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance Agency.

There are hundreds of Igbo people working in the Lagos State public service as either civil servants or teachers, especially since 1999 when democracy was restored in Nigeria. They enjoy the same rights and privileges as indigenes of the state. Lagos is home for all. The result is the unprecedented development unleashed in the state particularly in the last eight years. There are more Igbo in Lagos State than any other place in the world. And Igbo people have prospered in Lagos more than any other place in the world.

Though the Federal Government takes credit for containing the Ebola virus in Nigeria, the whole country knows it was essentially the Lagos State Government and First Consultants Medical Centre at Obalande in Lagos that won the nation the international applause which greeted Nigeria’s eradication of the virus. Despite the billions of naira budgeted to end Ebola, no kobo has been given to either the hospital or the families of those killed by the Ebola virus. Worse, the then Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchukwu Chukwu, did not visit the hospital. Nor did President Goodluck Jonathan receive the survivors in his office or his residence, let alone visit the hospital which lost over N500m to the outbreak. This is in sharp contrast to what happened in the United States where President Barrack Obama granted audience to the nurse who contracted Ebola while treating a patient.

We thank God for leaders like Fashola. Apart from building an Ebola emergency centre overnight where the victims were treated, he personally welcomed the victims and their families to his office, with a lot of top state government officials in attendance. Those he received included the widow of Dr Enemuo from Anambra State, who contracted the virus in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and died there. Gov Fashola donated a handsome amount to each of the victims and their families, who are mostly Igbos. The governor visited the First Consultants Medical Centre with his top personal aides where he pleaded with the hospital’s frightened patients to return to the health facility because it has since been certified free of Ebola contamination by the World Health Organisation. His Excellency followed up the visit with a handsome N50milion donation to Dr Benjamin Ohaeri from Imo State and his hospital.

What Fashola has done for First Consultants is consistent with his impressive liberal disposition. When Miss Uzoma Okere, a banker from Imo State was manhandled on a Lagos street by ratings attached to Rear Admiral Harry Arogundede, Fashola personally led the protest. He directed the Lagos State Ministry of Justice to sue the admiral. The Lagos State High Court has since awarded N100m in damages to Miss Okere, whose legal fees were borne entirely by the state government.

When Miss Ngozi Nwosu, a famous actress from Imo State, was dying of a liver disease, Fashola flew her to the United Kingdom and treated her at the expense of the Lagos State Government. Today, Miss Nwosu is hale and hearty.

When Fashola built the biggest housing estate in the exclusive neighbourhood of Ikeja GRA, he named it after Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, who is an exemplary Nigerian citizen. When he commissioned the commentary box of the state government-owned Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, he named it after the legendary sports broadcaster, Ernest Okonkwo, who hailed from Anambra State like Chief Anyaoku.

When Brown University in the United States was organizing a symposium in honour of Professor Chinua Achebe in March, 2013, Fashola was the only governor from Nigeria who attended it. He did not just show solidarity, he declared at the symposium that his generation is not held hostage by the Nigerian Civil war of 1967-70 and its consequences.

When our great leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, was being buried a little over three years ago, the governor gave him practically a state burial. He was the only governor outside the Southeast geopolitical zone to do so.

Though born into a Muslim family, Fashola is one of the biggest personal contributors to the building of the magnificent Christ the King Catholic Church at Umuezeawala in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State.

When a market dominated by the Igbo people was burnt a little over two years ago in Apapa, the governor promised to use the state’s resources to immediately reconstruct it completely. He kept the promise.

Of course, Fashola has also been marvelous in the development of the Ade-Odun Market in the Orile-Mile 2 axis, which I have the honour to lead. This is a market with at least 85% Igbo traders. The governor’s eagerness to assist us led us to take steps to build an ultra-modern Shopping Complex. Though the Ade-Odun Building Materials Dealers Association could not pull through with this vision, the Adem Industrial and Commercial Complex will soon be ready, thanks to the numerous subscribers from all over Lagos State and beyond who believe in our vision. Fashola’s support enabled Unity Bank to buy into our vision by financing the project on favourable terms.

Much as we know that Fashola is against government functionaries receiving awards and honours while in office -a principle which made him reject a high national honour- the leaders and members of the Ade-Odun Building Materials Dealers Association would like to name the Adem Industrial and Commercial Shopping Complex after the governor.

Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu dreamed and spoke passionately about handshake across the Niger. Fashola has been implementing this vision without making noise about it.

In consideration of the enormous devotion to national integration and progress, members of this great Association have resolved to cast all our votes for Fashola’s political party in the forthcoming general elections. We know there are millions of people in Lagos State and across the country who share this patriotic view.

Let Fashola keep the flag flying. A new Nigeria is about to emerge.

– Excerpts of a speech by Umenzekwe, president of the Ade-Odun Building Materials Dealers Association, during a thank you visit to Gov Fashola on Friday, February 20, 2015, at Lagos State House, Marina.

Join The Conversation


  • Chuck Ghainard says:

    Fashola has emerged as a National leader with stature to be President of Nigeria if he so wishes. MAY GOD PRESERVE HIM FOR THAT ROLE IN THE NEAR FUTURE

  • Chuck Ghainard says:

    May God grant Fashola eminence in the council of Nigeria. When will other states emulate his real effort at integration by appointing ministers from other ethnicitis in positions of power in their government

  • What do you think?

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.