Lagos As An Orphan, By Bode George, Tajudeen Olarenwaju, Gbadebo Dallas

There is a new siege in Lagos. It is the relentlessness of the floods. They are everywhere, ceaseless and un-abating, flowing through the living spaces and the streets; drenching the gardens, intruding into the inner quarters of the homes, destroying fortunes, pulling down the walls and sometimes drowning the unfortunate in a fit of inundating fury.

The roads are impassable, rushing with rivers of flood, roaring with angry, driven force, smashing vehicles in pouring torrents, hindering all passages like some venom of nature.

 

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Chief Bode George and Tajudeen Olarenwaju

Vehicles are stuck everywhere. Pedestrians are hobbled on the roads, wading through neck deep ocean of water.

The floods do not respect the residencies of luxury or the tawdry localities of the poor. They are all the same. The abject , cratered , drunkenly leaning hovels of Amukoko are as submerged, drenched, supplanted, swamped in stagnant stubborn chaos of unforgiven muddy pool just as the opulence of Admiralty way or the affluent largeness of Park View and Banana Island.

Behold, from Ikoyi to Ajegunle, the stretches of Lekki, the despairing red earth of Ẹpẹ , the dirty, greenish , amoebic whirlpool of Ikorodu  and the cluttered, hobbling  hindrances of Lagos island- Lagos state is swamped in chaotic , endless, frustrating largeness of a permanent,  savaging and  venomous flood.

And yet the presiding powers appear helpless, overwhelmed, distant, perhaps even indifferent. The drainages are clogged with sand, with silt, with innumerable disposables. The gutters, the man-holes, the once mighty channels and canals that served as thoroughfares for the rushing sweep of floods are now choked, drowned in a thousand refuse and waste, frozen in a grim immobility of stench and foul and a thousand bacteria, invariably threatening an outbreak of a local epidemic.

But where is the structure of governance? Where is the matured leadership intervening to unclog the widening expanses of flood and refuse, the impassable roads and the sickening degradation in a supposed state of Excellence?

Alas, it appears all is abandonment, forfeiture and ruin. It seems the state is latched to some grim mechanical pilot, cruising indifferently in directionless totality.

Despite the stupendous internally generated revenue of over 50 billion naira per month, our state remains the largest debtor in the nation with a staggering 28.3 trillion naira in red. This is twice the 10:8 trillion naira revised federal budget for 2020.

The realities everywhere are disheartening, disturbing, and ultimately paralytic. There is a virtual absence of governance in the state of aquatic splendor. Surely, there is no beautifying testimony anywhere again. The structures of state have broken down, stultified and warped by 21 years of sophomoric governance.

Whatever happened to all the money? Our collective coffers have been frittered, gutted in virtual mercenary despoliation. Greed, avaricious cronyism, partisan feudalism stir upon a captive land.

Rot, rancid expanses, indiscriminate sand-filling, the endless and unthoughtful hindering of the natural passages of the lagoons and the mighty Atlantic are digging the state deeper and deeper beneath the water level.

This is the result of 21 years of greedy, rudderless leadership. This is the result of an indifferent power whose sole predication is bent on brazen, bizarre cronyism where personal interests and partisan favoritism are contemptuous of merit and selfless service.

But what else do we expect when the tools of power continue to recycle the same old state actors in obscene, degrading and tragic cultivation of a small group of yes-men at the detriment of enlightened, dedicated, indigenous intelligentsia? Indeed, there is no renewal in governance.

Since the 1999 aberration, Mr Bola Tinubu has been playing Russian roulette with the Lagosian fortunes.  Lagos is now reduced to a mercenary circus of the absurd where whims and caprices are the stark substitutes for leadership.

Alas, there are no pretenses anymore. There is apparently an unwritten, deliberate policy to alienate the well learned, the thoughtful, the smart, the intelligent, the assertive and the passionate indigenes from the governance of their state.

In this malady,  a loud, vociferous , character who springs from the rural outpost of Ekiti served as Commissioner for Information in Lagos for 8 years and then when it  was convenient, he moved to his native soil to contest for a Senatorial seat. Even now his son is a Special Assistant to Governor Sanwoolu. Is this fair? Is this just?

Another Goebbelian character served in Lagos State as Chief of Staff for 4 years, moved back to his native space in Kwara State to contest for the gubernatorial seat. His ambition was obstructed by Bukola  Saraki. But he has maneuvered his way back to Lagos State. While his daughter presently presides over Apapa local government, his son at once serves in the Lagos state House of Assembly. He is now the mouth-piece of a dysfunctional national tableau. Is this fair? Is this just?

A Kogi State  and former journalist with the defunct Concord Newspaper who has jumped from  one lowly position to the  Secretary  to the State Government and various other stints  in the corridors of power, has been serving in the Lagos state Cabinet for more than 18 years. He is still there serving now as the Commissioner for the Environment. Is this fair? Is this just?

And there is the instance of another Kogi State native who had hovered from one position to the other since 2003 when he presided over Ojodu local council development area, graduating to the House of Representatives, then shifting back to his hometown in Kogi State to contest the Deputy Governor’s seat. With the demise of the Governor-elect, he lost out and again swiftly moved back to represent the people of Ikeja in the House of Representatives as if nothing was amiss. Is this fair? Is this just?

A recently demised Senator had served in the Lagos state House of Assembly for 16 years before he moved to the Upper Chamber. It was said of him that he never moved any motion, never sponsored a bill in both positions. On his transition, he was swiftly hurried to his hometown in Ijebu-Mosan for burial. Is this fair? Is this just?

And we know of another obese, pudgy, comically woven Senator from the depths of Yewa in Ogun State who had represented Lagos State for 8 years in the House of Representatives. He is serving his second term now at the Senate. In 2019, he attempted a gamble for the Ogun state highest office. But he got a comeuppance in the hands of former Governor Amosun who told him publicly that Ogun state will not accept any “imported Governor from Lagos State.” The chubby character is still preparing to move back to Yewa, his hometown in 2023 for another shot at the gubernatorial seat. Is this fair? Is this just?

The man Friday of the realm; a former personal assistant to the big honcho, the grubby, hard drinking, gangling, loud and garish character who  ran a night club while he served as a commissioner before Ambode kicked him out is a native of Ekiti state. His late father was bestowed with a chieftaincy title by Oba Oyekan. He has since been compensated with a position at the national platform. Is this right? Is this just?

The wife of the big honcho himself who hails partly from Ikanọ in Ogun State is serving an unprecedented third term as a Senator representing the Central Senatorial district. This is the very heart of Eko itself. Is this fair? Is this just?

And the big Caudillo, who has held the state in grim servitude for 21 years is of course a native of Iragbiji; a dark, primitive, undeveloped, peripheral, rurality frozen on the forgotten and unforgiven outpost of Ọsun State. Is this fair? Is this just?

Pray, can any indigenous Lagosian go to even the nearby Ogun State  and attempt to contest  for the lowly position of a Councillor without being told to point out his ancestral home whether it is Egba, Rẹmọ, Ijebu, Yewa or any other sub-group in that state?

Is Lagos State a dumping ground for the jetsam and the flotsam of the people from the Yoruba up-country?

Being born in Lagos does not make you an indigenous person. Just like in other communities in our country, you must have rooted ancestral linkages before you can justifiably claim indigeneship.

We want to be emphatic and clear that Lagosians welcome everyone with open arms without prejudice, without envy or any preconceived suspicions. And we will continue to be the melting pot for all Nigerians. We will continue to accommodate everyone with the Lagosian legendary tolerance. We will continue to create opportunities for all regardless of their tribes to pursue their endeavors in peace.

But our accommodating largeness must never be taken for idiocy. The Nigerian expanse is still ethnic based, rooted in primordial attractions. Whether in Sokoto or Onne, whether in Kaura-Namoda or in the village of Poika in Ẹpẹ – we remain a society where we all treasure our roots and where we are very protective of our traditions, our customs and our ancestral values.

We only demand that the Lagosian natives be accorded the rights and privileges to play our God ordained role in the affairs of our ancstral home. This is the very pivot of state creation.

The indigenous communities must be allowed the inalienable right of self-determination, the right of self-fulfillment, the right of self-actualization and the necessary importance in the governance of their state and collective destiny.

Majority of our youths are unemployed, banished to scavenge for a miserable existence despite their university degrees and their industrious determination. They now roam the streets, confronted with a bleak and dark future while none-natives are living on the hog because of their proximity to power. Is this fair? Is this Just?

Our people have no other place to call their own save their native soil. But opportunities for well-paid employment diminish everywhere as they are treated as aliens on their own soil.

Surely, we cannot continue like this.

There are so many oddities screaming for answers:

Who owns Alpha Beta? How much is the company deducting from our treasury? How much do we earn from the Admiralty Circle Toll Gate and the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge Toll Gate?

Silence is not an option. Lagosians must rise up and shake off their stupor and demand for equity and fairness. This is the time to speak the truth to power with assertive voice and with a defiance of the oppressor’s impudence.

Enough of this deliberate diminution of our people upon our native soil. Enough of the insult and the contempt being inflicted upon our youths and our few enlightened leaders who are in the barricades fighting the good cause and who will never collaborate with evil.

We are resolved on reclaiming our state from the greedy grasp of verminous usurpers with all legitimate means at our disposal. We are resolved on dismantling all the tools of the oppressors with all legal, constitutional interventions.

On this much we will never waiver. On this much we will never capitulate.

IYAYI TO GẸ

–Chief Olabode George, CON, FNSE.

Atona Odua of Yorubaland.

Leader, Ọmọ Eko Pataki.

Rtd Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju,

Former GOC , 3rd  Armored Division, Jos.

DSS, psc+,ndc.

Trustee, Ọmọ Eko Pataki.

Mr. Gbadebọ Dallass, Msc.

Former MD, NERFUND

Trustee, Ọmọ Eko Pataki

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