Prince Justice Faloye
It is infuriating when people in other states claim they are not Lagos, as we see River State Ijaws claim in their fight against Wike trying to dictate governance from Abuja. Lagos appears to be the only state in Nigeria that a single man has controlled since the start of this democratic dispensation twenty four years ago. This political passivity is not lost on the rest of Nigeria and Lagosians have become the butt of political jokes. We have heard Edo is not Lagos, Ondo is not Lagos, Rivers is not Lagos, whenever a political godfather wants to install a puppet in office.
It is also depressing since political history recounts that most political and economic revolutionaries, the ‘hope of the masses’, rise from major capital cities. The likes of Sao Paulo’s Lula Da Silva, New York’s Franklin D Roosevelt, Tehran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and many others from sociopolitical hotbeds of major cities. The likes of Alexander Hamilton and later Franklin D Roosevelt pushed the economic frontiers of New York as a megacity. These hotbeds were also global media centers that empowered young revolutionaries to be vociferous against exploitative systems. The likes of New York’s Malcom X took advantage of the prominence of NY city to push the Black movement as a global movement. Lagos conformed to this pattern in the early 1900s with the likes of Herbert Macaulay and others that came after him to lead the struggle against British colonization. From independence to 1999, Lagos produced populist governors that pushed for its prosperity, but the story changed with Tinubu.
Other Nigerians are beginning to wonder if Lagosians are really dull or Tinubu is that smart. Many other Yoruba boast that regardless of what Tinubu might put in place, if the electoral heist was as obvious in their states, their Indigenous pride would have ignited a street revolution. In 1983 and 2006, the fury of the Ondo State electorate over perceived electoral robbery led to the reversals at the courts. Ibadan’s used to say they don’t worship (support) a leader twice, in reference to second terms, not to talk of the leader to serve his two terms and want to rule extra terms through proxies. Rather than allow a political leader that refuses to remove his hand in their governance for 24yrs, other Yorubas will engage him in full scale battles on the streets of Ibadan, Ado Ekiti and other Yoruba capitals, making the state ungovernable from its capital.
Some Yorubas believe Lagosians lack true attachment to the land due to the fact that from Eleko of Eko to Afro-Brazilians, Saros and now modern Lagosians were immigrants. When it comes to fighting for the commonwealth, Lagosians are pacified, in street parlance, Mumufied. When Tinubu left office, he placed Fashola his chief of staff in the Governor’s seat. Towards the end of Fasholas first term, Tinubu wanted to remove him for insubordination, if not for other political heavyweights that pled on his behalf. Tinubu reluctantly spared him but made sure he removed all Fashola loyalists from political offices, thereby effectively neutering him. A lameduck governor was what Fashola became in his second term, as he paid up to Tinubu’s demands. After he left office Tinubu replaced him with Akinwunmi Ambode, who tried to challenge Tinubu’s excessive control by unravelling Tinubu’s political economy of using waste management to fund his local political guard. At the end of his first term, Tinubu removed him ignobly and replaced him with Sanwo Olu that has remained fully compliant and dependent.
But the question is, even if Tinubu chooses Yes-men as cronies from his party, what about the opposition and long term indigenous Lagosian stakeholders that see their commonwealth being squandered? Unfortunately, PDP has been the most ineffective opposition in the political history of Nigeria. There are allegations that apart from killing political opposition like Funso Williams, Tinubu placed the Lagos PDP leadership on a payroll. Agbaje presented a very weak opposition by only launching public opposition a few months to elections. It appears that Tinubu has a monopoly of violence that true indigenous Lagosians were too weak to challenge. The worst case is the recent Labour Party opposition that went into an election without its own thugs and street presence to protect their voters and votes.
I was miffed that a scion of a distinguished Lagos family, Rhodes-Vivour could be labelled an Igbo by Tinubu rumored to have come from Osun State, without a strong response by indigenous Lagosians. How can a tenant be calling a landlord’s son a bastard? I can’t imagine any other Yoruba city that would stand by and do nothing as a candidate from a well known family is labelled an outsider. Yorubas have a saying that It’s only a bastard or irresponsible elders in Yorubaland that won’t get violently angry when one’s paternity is openly contested
Over twenty-four years of Tinubu hegemony, it appears both the traditional and democratic institutions have been neatly arranged into Tinubu’s back pocket. The monarch of Lagos Island, Eleko of Eko and others contentiously enthroned by Tinubu, keep silent and even abuse traditions to sustain the political hegemony. With Tinubu filling all political posts with his cronies, with his wife the senator representing Lagos Mainland, thereby blocking the rise of genuine young astute populist politicians, democracy is effectively dead in Lagos. While Afenifere that operated an open policy guided by meritocracy gave him a chance to contest, Tinubu operated a mediocrity of Baba Sope followers, who only advanced by being loyal to Tinubu, instead of the people they were supposed to serve.
Yes, there have been a few examples like postwar neocolonized Japan and South African apartheid political parties that ruled for decades but industrialized their nations, unfortunately Tinubu’s 24 year hegemony has arrested the economic and political development of Lagos. Instead of Lagos being the springboard of heavy industrialization in Nigeria, stimulated by railways as done in every other industrialized nations, it has taken Tinubu twenty-four years to build a mere sixteen kilometers out of the minimum 160 kilometers in the masterplan. Tinubu prefered to stick to an agbero transport system that not only fleeced Lagosians, but whose operators were used as thugs to hijack elections. Tinubu has been unable to advance the neocolonist economy that was based on retailing of goods produced outside Lagos, as low level retailing and private transport operators remain the largest contributors to the GDP.
The rest of Nigeria have ignored the enslavement of Lagos to the detriment of Nigeria, unknown to them that the cancer would spread across Nigeria. Tinubu inflicted heavy taxation on Lagos in what he calls IGR drive whose funds were used to buy political influence across the nation until he was able to seize power at the center. Lagos is the fourth largest economy in Africa due to it being the most populous Black city not only in Africa but the world, and most importantly the major seaport through which 90% of goods and raw materials were imported for the 200 million plus Nigerian population. So, handling Lagos purse that accounts for over half of Nigerians GDP since British colonization for 24 years gave Tinubu immense financial power that nobody could compete against on his way to presidency.
It is very difficult to see how the Black Race will be uplifted if Lagos, the most populous Black City, is being milked by one man supported by outside special interests. Infact the political retardation of Lagos has gone nationwide and it might be from the nation that a revolution will spring up, as other Nigerians won’t take time to reject Tinubu’s type of exploitative governance that has been accepted for twenty four years. Within five months of Tinubu’s presidency, complaints have become louder by not only other regions but also other Yorubas against Tinubu’s personalization of Nigeria political appointments. What appears to be an empty boast that Eko o gba gbere, Lagos doesn’t take rubbish, it appears that it is the Nigerians at large that would teach Lagos how not to accept a feudalistic government.