Expediency Of Calling Tribal Jingoist To Order Ahead Of Lagos Governorship Election

By Isaac Asabor

It is no more news that ethnic rivalries between Lagosians of Igbo descent and aboriginal Lagosians, have become the reality of life. The rivalries, no doubt, have since Nigeria adopted a democratic system of government been shaping the political history of Lagos, and have determined the outcome of virtually every gubernatorial election conducted in the state, and may likely determine the outcome of the upcoming March 11 governorship election, come Saturday.

Without resorting to tribal sentiment in this context, tribal jingoists in the state are at the moment, ahead of the upcoming March 11 governorship election, literarily wielding the weapon of tribalism as a way of threateningLagosians of Igbo descent. Despite the elements of discrimination and spiteful hate that characterizes the inclination, those discriminated against have by eachpassing day been bearing the psychological trauma and fear that comes with such hostile behavior been exhibited by tribal jingoists among their hosts. However, for many of the Lagosians of Igbo descent, they have been accepting the prevailing unfriendly behaviors toward them with equanimity so much that they seem to have accepted the act of prejudice to be human and understood the fact that bigotry has been on the surface and has reared its ugly head in several darker episodes in the state’s historical past.

Against the foregoing backdrop, aboriginal Lagosians will always rattle off ethnic jokes and resort to name-calling, such as “Omo Ibo” in mixed company, which rarely offendLagosians of Igbo descent who are known to be friendly, even though such defamatory jokes that are based on commonly held stereotypes are ignored.

Historically, ethnicism has for the umpteenth time in Lagos ahead of a given gubernatorial election culminated in ethnic flare-ups that sent jitters to Lagosians of Igbo descent. Against the foregoing backdrop, it will be recalled in this context that in April 2015 that there were reports in the media that Igbo leaders in Lagos paid a visit to a royal personality on Sunday, April 5, and during the meeting,they were at the time told to vote for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, or else they will die in the lagoon. According to political pundits, he was alleged to have been angered by the votes garnered in Lagos by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan, which was believed to have been from the Igbo community. However, a clarification was made by the palace explaining that the royal father was quoted out of context, thus the heated fire was doused, and peace was restored.

Unfortunately, despite the condemnations that trailed the hate-filled call in 2015, what is happening today in Lagos since the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the recent presidential election conducted on February 25, 2023, cannot be said to be different.

For instance, following the victory of the Labour Party, LP, presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in Lagos State, there have been allegations of attacks on Lagosians of Igbodescent in the state. The allegations, no doubt, have made the Igbo socio-political organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, issue a statement wherein they blamed the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo Olu, for failing in his duties to protect the lives and properties of the people of the state.

As gathered from the Statement, the Secretary-General of the socio-political organization, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, warned that the body would hold certain influential personalities in Lagos responsible for the attacks on the Igbo community in the state.

He alleged, “They are preparing to unleash more terror on the Igbo community ahead of the March governorship election.

“Also, we are telling Igbos communities in Lagos that self-defense and determination is a universal law, they should never allow what happened in 1993 to happen in 2023 when Abiola lost the election and Igbos became the victim.

“Igbos must rise up and defend themselves, they should be peaceful, calm, and never be involved in troublemaking, but if trouble comes to their doorstep, they should rise up and defend themselves.

“They should never instigate any crisis where they are; as Nigerians, they should rise up and bravely defend themselves wherever they are.

“The message is very clear; they should be law-abiding citizens but defend themselves.”

As can be inferred from the foregoing facts, it is crystal clear that this is not the first time Lagosians of Igbo descent are being threatened ahead of an upcoming gubernatorial election in the state.

In as much as everyone is hopeful that the upcoming election will be fair and peaceful, there is no denying the fact that there are already apprehensions that are stemming from inflammatory statements being made by not a few tribal jingoists across the state.

Be that as it may, while urging concerned authorities to call tribal jingoists to order, it is also expedient to say that an election that was shaped by ethnicity, will subsequently affect the whole system and consequently the livelihood of innocent citizens.

Thus, it is expedient for us to always have it at the back of our minds that while we co-exist that peace ensures that voters are allowed to exercise their constitutional and democratic rights to cast votes and elect their candidates of choice without fear or intimidation because they are Igbos in Lagos and that free and fair elections can only be achieved when peace is apparent.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to say that this writer, and undeniably other Lagosians, are appealingfor peace. The reason for the appeal cannot be farfetched as the attainment of peace in the expected electoral exercise will help in ensuring that the entire election process runs smoothly. In fact, the only way to be certain of a smooth and fair election process is to maintain law and order, peace, safety, and security at election polls. Thus, it is expedient to say that peace can only be achieved by following the required procedures and protocols as stipulated and guided by Nigerian electoral laws.

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