PDP, APC in war of words over removal of Igbo indigenes from Lagos

By The Citizen

THE People's Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the alleged forceful relocation of some indigenes of Anambra State by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Fashola administration.

A statement issued by PDP Acting National Publicity Secretary, Tony Okeke, Sunday described the relocation as 'inhuman, abominable and callous', as it was a violation of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to reside in any part of the federation. The measure showed the wickedness of the APC-led government and portrayed the party as one with the agenda to promote sectionalism and stoke the fire of division among Nigerians, it claimed, adding that it was a dehumanisation of innocent Nigerians by the state.

However, the APC has described as a very dangerous game that could threaten the nation's unity Governor Peter Obi's alleged sensationalisation of the recent 'home return of 14 (not 72 as widely claimed)' Anambra indigenes from Lagos.

In a statement issued in Lagos Sunday by its interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said instead of reaching out to his Lagos counterpart as he has done on less important issues in the past, Governor Obi fired an 'over-dramatised letter' to the Presidency and leaked such to the media, thus setting off an avoidable friction between the Igbo and the Yoruba that will not augur well for Nigeria's unity.

APC, however, maintained that Obi's 'resort to media campaign, which has triggered a vicious Lagos State/Yoruba bashing, is aimed at gaining an undue advantage ahead of the forthcoming Anambra governorship election, instead of being borne out of sheer altruism.'

''Equally guilty of indiscretion at best and deliberate peddling of falsehood at worst are the various 'analysts', 'commentators', out-of-luck NGOs and organisations that have jumped onto the bandwagon of Lagos bashing over the issue, mischievously tagged 'deportation' instead of what it is (home return for proper integration), when they could have sought the truth from the Lagos State Government.

''Even some of the respectable Igbo socio-political organisations failed the simple test of fairness by not unearthing the truth before making pronouncements. Even if they do not trust the Lagos State Government, they could have at least inquired about what happened from their son, who is a ranking member of the cabinet of Lagos State,'' APC said.

APC continued:  ''All those who consider the home return of 14 Anambra indigenes as a reflection of the Lagos State Government's (and by extension the Yoruba's) ill-will toward the Igbo should consider the following facts:

1. There was an exchange of correspondence dated April 9, 15, and 29, 2013 between the Lagos State Government and Anambra State Government, through its Liaison Office in Lagos, about the 'integration' not 'deportation' of the 14 people.

2. Anambra State Government did not respond to requests by Lagos State to come and validate/identify the people who claimed to have come from Anambra. Had it done so, this issue could have been better managed.

3. Lagos State itself received notice from the Government of Akwa Ibom to come, identify and pick up two Lagos indigenes whom they picked up in a 'lunatic clean up' exercise in Uyo. Lagos responded promptly without making any noise about it.

4. In December 2011, the same Anambra State Government that is now crying foul over the home return of Anambra indigenes arrested and repatriated 29 beggars to their home states in Ebonyi, another Igbo State, and Akwa Ibom. Then it was conveniently not 'deportation' but 'repatriation' and no tribal meanings were read to such action.

5. Also in 2011, Abia State Government sacked 3,000 non-indigenes (but fellow Igbo) from her work force and asked them to go back to their respective states, yet not even a whimper was heard from all those who are now raising hell over the ''deportation'' of 14 Anambra indigenes from Lagos.

''If Governor Obi's logic is to be followed, then the government of Akwa Ibom, and the entire people of the state, harbour bad intentions toward Lagos State and the Yoruba by asking Lagos State to come and pick up two 'vagrant psychotics' identified as Lagosians who have been rehabilitated.

''Suffice it to say that these home returns have been going on for a long time among states, even within the same ethnic groups (as we pointed out above), and has never before elicited the kind of jaundiced interpretation that has been given to the return of 14 Anambra indigenes.''

APC said it was also important to point out that this home returns are not limited to Nigeria. The U.S. State of Hawaii has recently offered one-way tickets to homeless persons to return to their home states within the U.S., as part of the state's efforts to take the burden off its welfare system. It is estimated that Hawaii's ''return-to-home'' programme will affect its 17,000 homeless residents.