By Femi Fani-Kayode
I make no apology for saying the following. Lagos is NOT no-man’s land. It belongs to the Yoruba. Other than winning the Presidency, the most important thing for the Yoruba to do today is to ensure that Babajide Sanwo-Olu is re-elected as Governor of Lagos State.
We welcome visitors and strangers with love, kindness and open arms because that is our nature but we will never let them rule over us in our father’s land, take our land and territory and deprive us of our patrimony, heritage and ancestry.
Anything short of this would be an abomination and would attract the wrath and curse of God. We know who we are and we know what is ours. Nothing and nobody will take that from us. It is time to reclaim Lagos and the first step to doing that is to vote for Jide in the governorship election on Saturday. I call on all sons and daughters of the West and all true friends of Lagos and the West to come out and vote for Jide and the APC on that day.
Permit me to add the following.
I have spoken up for the Ibo probably more than any other non-Ibo in my generation over the years and in the recent past and I did so when most people remained silent and watched them suffer the most extreme form of persecution, wickedness and barbarity.
I am also one of those that believes strongly in the ‘handshake across the Niger’ and I enunciated my position boldly and clearly at the famous Enugu conference in 2018 when others were scared to speak. Finally my belief in the concepts of restructuring, self-determination, equity and justice remain unshakable.
I also remain a strong advocate of the unity and indissolable fabric of our rainbow coalition and beautiful union and our quest to establish an exemplary and enviable multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation where every individual, regardless of tribe or faith, finds a place under the sun.
That is the sacred vision of our forefathers and it is for that vision and preservation of the unity of that unique and marvellous rainbow coalition and great nation of bright and beautiful ethnic nationalities that millions of people died during our civil war.
A heavy price was paid for our unity and the butchers bill for the preservation of our union was very high.
That is all the more reason why we should preserve it at all costs so as not to belittle and mock the sacrifices made by so many and the oceans of blood that was shed to keep us one.
Nigeria is a great, powerful and beautiful nation with so much potential and we shall do all we can to make her even greater and better by striving to live in pace and unity with one another. However this does not mean that we can take each other for granted or treat one another with contempt.
This does not mean that we must indulge in grabbing the land and coveting the homes of others in the name unity. This does not mean that we are a nation of anything goes where only the loudest, strongest and most aggressive have their way or where anarchy, ignorance, fascism, ethnic nationalism, racial hegemony, primitive irredentism and barefaced domination reigns supreme.
This does not mean that we will tolerate and allow others to re-echo the expansionist dreams and divisive and weighty words of the late jurist, member of the Legislative Council and Ibo nationalist Charles Daddy Onyeama (the distinguished and respected father of our Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama) in 1945 when he told the Ibo State Union at the Island Club in Lagos that “the Ibo domination of Nigeria is only a matter of time”.
The angst and fears of the Yorubas, Hausa Fulani, Ijaw and other non-Ibos that heard those words at that time were further fuelled and re-kindled four years later in 1949 when, again in Lagos, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe himself, the Ibo leader of the NCNC, a great nationalist and the man who was almost elected Premier of the old Western Region and was later elected Premier of the old Eastern Region said,
“it would appear that the God of Africa has specially created the Ibo nation to lead the children of Africa from the bondage of the ages”.
I guess little has changed over the last 78 years when it comes to the desire of some to want to dominate others, lead them by force and take over their land and all that is theirs.
How sad that is.
Finally this does not mean that I will sit by silently or idly and accept the absurd notion, emotional blackmail and intellectual tomfoolery of those that say that Lagos, my Lagos, the city that I come from, that I was born in, that I grew up in, that I lived in for most of my life, that my parents and grandparents were buried in and that God-willing, when my time comes, I shall also be buried in, is a ‘no man’s land’ .
Lagos may be an increasingly racial and cultural melting pot but she is NOT a no man’s land. The history is clear. Lagos is Yoruba territory and she constitutes a vital and integral part of the South Western states of Nigeria and the Yoruba nation. Whether anyone likes to hear it or not this is an incontrovertible fact.
As Yorubas she is our pride and joy, our shining city on a hill, our New Jerusalem and a stellar example and reflection of our liberal, cosmopolitan, civil, accommodating and generous disposition to strangers and outsiders who, over the last few decades, have made her their home.
Yet no matter how kind and accommodating we Yorubas are as a people and no matter how many non-Yorubas we integrate with, we shall NEVER conceed one inch of our territory to them or allow them to claim our land, culture, values, patrimony and heritage as their own.
The day I, as a Yoruba man, can claim that Enugu belongs to me or that I can safely open a stall in Enugu market or that I can become Governor of Enugu state is the day that I shall review my position. Until then I will not do so.
Permit me to conclude with the following.
I am a proud father of nine children, six of whom have mothers that are not Yoruba and three of whom have a mother that is only half Yoruba. This proves that I am an intergrationist and I believe in building bridges and creating a society which allows for and encourages the mixing of ethnic bloodlines, racial tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
l am a liberal and I do not believe that it is right or proper for one race or ethnic nationality to look down on or discriminate against another. In my view we are all one, regardless of which ethnic nationality you come from or which faith you espouse.
However this does not mean that I am prepared to sacrifice my racial and cultural identity on the alter of historical revisionism. The history is clear and the facts speak for themselves.
For a non-Yoruba and particularly an Ibo to claim that Lagos belongs to them or that she is a ‘no man’s land’ is not only absurd but also deeply insulting.
Each time they say it they are slapping us in the face and spitting on the graves of our revered forefathers.
Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation