Everything can be said to have been said over the matter of deportation of Igbos from Lagos but the lines towed in the debates on the television and radio commentaries I have listened to, as far as I am concerned, just begs the question. At times, in some of the debates, it looks as if there is fear in speaking the truth. At another time, it appears there is a conspiracy of silence or that people are being economical with the truth. Some speak as if a bulldozer has been positioned in front of their houses threatening to pull down their homes should they dare speak firmly against this injustice. But I will add, as an aside, that if we now live in a democracy where people are afraid to speak their mind for the fear of harassment, the very essence we fought off the military rule, then suffice to say that our attempt at democracy is a long shot.
First and foremost, I want to say that the horror in this saga is in the acknowledgement of the fact that this matter bothers squarely on one of the most salient fundamentals of our nation’s constitution, the very document that gave us the rule of our identity as Nigerians. A document without which there can be alter chaos in our lives as a people and as a nation. The constitution guarantees every Nigerian the inalienable right to reside in any part of Nigeria of their choice and the freedom of passage through any part of Nigeria, and there is no gainsaying that.
We appreciate the effort of Lagos State government to clean and beautify Lagos. But no amount of exigency to attain that beautification should blindfold us to annihilate our nation’s constitution. It would also be expedient to understand that there is no amount of recreation or beautification that can make Lagos more beautiful than Berverly Hills in California or Potomac in Washington States of USA, yet never has it ever been said that during the making or recreation of any of these two cities or any other beautiful city in USA for that mater, that Americans, homeless or mentally impaired, were picked from any of their streets and dumped in say Philadelphia.
Let us not be economical with the truth, where in the Nigeria Constitution did Fashola derive the power to seize Nigerians and detain them for six months; and to later put those Nigerians in an open trailer and driving through the cold hours of the night and later dumping them by 3AM at Onitsha bridge head?
As this matter rages on, I also want to express my disappointment with the Nigeria legal community. Governor of Lagos State, Mr Raji Fashola is not layman. He is a man who went from the University through the Nigeria Law School to a call to the Nigeria bar. Plus, I suppose from a lucid and sustained effort in Nigeria’s legal system was norminated and promoted to the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) before being elected governor of Lagos State. He was not just a mere street lawyer after all.
For a man of such legal pedigree to broadly rape the Nigerian Constitution with no iota of remorse and yet continues to grandstand with no single member of the Nigeria legal community coming forward to look him squarely in the face and strongly condemn his actions leave a bad taste in the mouth. Mr Fashola has defiled the Senior Advocate title and should be made to lose that title spontaneously, at the least.
Mr Fashola has been crying politics in his defense, but truth be told, if he cared about rehabilitation, what stops him from creating a care center in Lagos of say 10,000 square meters of land with bungalows, and some department to run the facility, just like Buba Marwa did at Ebutemeta during his tenor as military Adminstrator of Lagos. Once such a center is established, corporate organizations and well meaning Nigerians will undoubtedly stimulate the project with supports, material and funds.
Also, if Fashola knows he was sincere, why did his men not take the “destitute” to government house in Awka and formerly hand them over to Anambra State government?
Realistically, I would like to see a Lagos more beautiful than Monte Carlo; where on landing approach to Lagos Airport, the thousands of old rustic building roofs beneath my airplane would change and all look like those on the approach path to Sugar Land Municipal Airport in Texas; when driving on Eko Bridge to Akpangbon, right from National Art Theater, when I look left and right, the two sides would look like Queens Garden Avenue in Montevideo, etc. Honestly, I would advise that any line of attempt at achieving such lofty that desecrate our nation’s constitution must be eschewed.
People should not be bamboozled to think that Lagos just fell from the sky, no! Lagos and its economic fundamental structures were a creation from the sweat of the entire Nigeria. The gigantic structures without which there is no Lagos; Eko bridge, Second Mainland bridge; Third Mainland bridge; International airport Ikeja; all the sea ports; all the major roads, etc, etc that give Lagos its fundamental strength were constructed with Nigeria oil revenue and by Federal government of Nigeria, and not just Lagos State government.
Even the fat tax revenue the state is often and arrogantly boastful of are supported by Nigeria oil economy. All those companies paying those taxes are embedded in our nation’s oil economy. If not, tell me what anybody is producing in Lagos that made a hotel room cost over $500 a night while the same class of room costs less than $200 in Accra Ghana? In other words, if oil dries, Lagos dries. So, there is no acting like a peacock before the rest of Nigerians, please.
Also, it beats my imagination when we Nigerians go to the United Kingdom or the USA and give birth to our children and such single act automatically bequeaths our children those countries citizenship, while in our nation, a child whose parents are Nigerians, who was conceived and given birth to in Lagos would continue to be rudely reminded that they are not Lagosians or that they are a citizen of another state which they may never have lived in their entire life.
The insult, the affront, and the nonchalant wave of the hand with which Lagos State government has been attempting to dispel the insult meted out to those concerned are doing nothing but adding insult to injury.
That is why those who have appeared over twenty times on the television programs to douse the tension cannot achieve their aim unless they are ready to look straight into the camera and speak the gospel truth to Nigerians, because they raped our nation’s constitution. If not, peace will elude them to eternity as they continue to deface the truth.
Hon. Nnolim Nnaji is South East Representative, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA)