By Chief Olabode George

It is disheartening,  shameful, embarrassing, disgraceful and unpatriotic that at a time like this, when Lagosians and Nigerians are going through economic hardship, some elders are infatuated with the ownership of Lagos.

What a distraction! What a disturbance! What a perturbation!

It is shameful that at a time millions of Nigerians are going through anguish and extreme pain, some elders are flexing muscles on the proprietorship of the Centre of Excellence.

The question to ask is:  What exactly is the intention of these agitators?

The whole gamut of argument about the ownership of Lagos is not of any importance to patriotic Nigerians at this crucial time.

Obviously, it is just a diversionary issue.

All these combatants and gladiators should know that all efforts, at this trying time, should be geared at ensuring good governance, how to tackle economic issues and take people out of poverty, how to put food on their table; how to get the people out of the abject poverty they are into; how to tackle the insecurity plaguing the country and how to deliver good healthcare to Nigerians whose lives are being cut short by lack of a good health care system.

Anything short of all of these is a complete waste of time.

Pitiably, the ship of the nation is currently drifting, yet the issue of who is the rightful owner Lagos is what some people prefer to discuss.

What a pity!

As a bonafide Lagosian , I say without any sense of equivocation that Lagos has been, and would remain, a centre of commerce, which has allowed everybody to settle down here. It is not in our tradition to discriminate. People settle down from all over Nigeria and from the entire West African coast from time immemorial – a culture which has remained with Lagos and the city of Kano, the only two cities known for commerce in Nigeria.

People are presently angered, thus the rhetoric about who truly own Lagos has gained momentum, but we know ourselves.

No matter how twisted the narrative is, Nigerians know the truth.

It is true the Bini were here in the earliest time, but it was temporary. It was not that they conquered Lagos like the colonial imperialists, as it is being bandied about.

Inter-mariage had also overshadowed a lot of things. For instance, the only sister of my paternal father married a Benin man, and gave birth to all my cousins, who are all in their 70s and 60s. They have spent the greater part of their lives in Lagos.

We should stop dissipating energies on a frivolous issue like the original owners of Lagos, rather, governance should take centre stage, how to improve the lives of the ordinary Nigerian without making the Centre of Excellence lose its candour of a commercial Nerve Centre of the West African sub-region should arrest our attention.

It is rather most disheartening for the government to encourage the people to engage in frivolous narrative about founders of Lagos, a debate triggered by the comments freely expressed by a traditional ruler, who himself did not choose the tribe he originated from.

I say, enough of engaging in such a diversionary issue, as nobody created him or herself to be a Bini, Hausa, Igbo, Itsekiri, Kanuri, Fulani, Ijaw or Yoruba. We are all humans.

What should be of utmost concern at this critical period of despondency is how to make life meaningful to all and sundry.

Nigerians should refuse to be divided by diversionary issues which add no value to  their lives, and make government accountable to them through good governance.

We should stop wasting time or dissipating  energies on non-issues, as nobody chose to be a member of the tribe he or she hails from in the country from birth.

In New York City in the United States, US, you have Italians, Irish and all those who migrated into the city. Switzerland is also a good example, we have the Germans concentrated around Zurich area, the Italians concentrated in Lugana, and French concentrated in Geneva, making the country one of the best well organised economic giants in the heart of Europe through good governance.

But here, we are made to engage in needless issues.

It is laughable to hear  Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the socio-cultural organisation of the Igbo,  chipping tribal sentiment of contributing to the development of Lagos.

If people don’t have anything to say, they should just keep their peace. We have serious numerous problems begging for attention. We have a near-disaster challenge in our economy, which needs urgent government solutions, towards transforming the lives of the people.

When we were growing up, we had classmates of Igbo, Hausa descent, who spoke fluent Yoruba language. We did everything together, education and sports. There are better ways to co-habit, not through frivolous issues like who is the true owner of Lagos.

My great-grand uncle,  Herbert Macaulay, was the man who established the first political party in the country. He was a selfless Nigerian, who cared about the wellbeing of every  Nigerian.

He was all over the place, trying to emancipate the people from colonial rule, motivating the people on how to gain independence from the colonialists. Unfortunately, he died in the struggle, after contacting disease on his way from a trip to the Northern part of the country. He did a lot of sensitisation against colonial rule, influencing the emergence of nationalists like Nnamdi Azikiwe, and others who took over from him.

We should not allow tribal sentiments to becloud our sense of reasoning to focus on making positive decisions to the society, irrespective of where you live.

Look at the late Pa Chris Ogunbanjo, he was not a Lagosian, but he lived the greater part of his life in Lagos, achieving greatness in all endeavours in Lagos. There are others like that.

My plea goes to all sides on this issue, is to sheath their swords and send the clarion call to government, to address issues directly affecting their existence for the better, as well enhancing the future of Nigerians.
Every Nigerian should live above tribal sentiments.

Enough of this distraction.

•Chief George, a former Deputy National Chairman, South, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is the Atona Oodua of Yorubaland.


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