Fashola, Lagos and ethnic propaganda | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Fashola, Lagos and ethnic propaganda

Posted: Apr 6, 2015 at 12:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Highlighting the ethnic and tribal composition of our great country is always a hurting venture for patriotic and detribalized minds. One of the banes of the country’s march to greatness is tribalism and ethnicity. Our diverse ethnic and tribal configuration has always been a major set -back in our quest for a united, prosperous and strong nation. Unfortunately, the nation’s elite, rather than emphasize more on the things that bind us together as a people, often play the ethnic and tribal cards for chiefly selfish and other primordial considerations. The elite have discovered that ethnicity, tribalism and religion sentiments remain cheap



channels through which they could play upon the intelligence of the ordinary folks in the country and they have learnt to use them to the maximum for their advantage. It is a common thing in Nigeria for political jobbers and certified opportunists, who usually have nothing good to offer the people to fan tribal and ethnic sentiments across the land. Usually, the strategy is to pretend as the defenders of the rights of the people; same people whose interests they have always trampled upon for ephemeral concerns.

In Nigeria, Lagos remains, perhaps, the only major melting points where all Nigerians could feel at home, irrespective of ethnic and religious differences. There is no other State that has opened its doors to accommodate Nigerians of various shades as Lagos does. It has always been the tradition of successive governments in the state to accord every resident in the State equal and fair deal in the scheme of things. Everyone who resides in Lagos is traditionally referred to as a Lagosian. This is the spirit of Lagos. It is this tradition that the current Governor of the State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, has been building upon in the past few years. Being a detribalized personality, in all the policies and programmes of his administration, Fashola is motivated by a strong desire to build a State where everyone, irrespective of ethnic, tribal, religious and other such concerns could productively earn a living in a safe and secured environment. His main goal is to leave behind a State where ethnic and tribal considerations count for nothing.

In Lagos State, in terms of strategic positioning, the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning is, perhaps, the most crucial of all the State’s MDAs. It is the ministry that priorities the expenditures of the State government. It is a testimony to the non tribal disposition of the Fashola led administration that this all important agency has, in the past eight years, been under the able leadership of Mr. Ben Akabueze, a professional banker and economist of Igbo descent. Likewise, the present Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Authority [LASIMRA], Mr. Joe Igbokwe, is a Nigerian of Igbo descent. To further reinforce its non-tribal posture, the Lagos state government recently named a newly commissioned housing estate as well as a Park after Chief Emeka Anyaoku and Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu respectively.

In the past eight years, Lagos has continued to show the way forward in its commitment to an indivisible Nigeria where no one is denied of opportunities for self actualisation on mundane considerations. The state’s primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities and, indeed, other such infrastructure remain accessible to all Nigerians without any discrimination. The State Security Trust Fund has continued to ensure the safety and security of every Lagos Resident. The public primary and secondary schools in the state have continued to open their doors to all Nigerian, irrespective of tribal and ethnic affiliations. Since the inception of the now popular Spelling Bee competition, among public secondary schools in the state, the thirteen winners that have emerged as ‘One Day Governors’ sufficiently demonstrate the cosmopolitan nature of the state’s public schools. A breakdown of the thirteen ‘One Day Governors’ that have so far emerged reveals that seven are of Yoruba origin, two are from Edo state while the remaining four are of Igbo extraction.

In Lagos state, excellence and competence remain major factors in the recruitment of its workforce. Apart from the Federal Civil Service, the Lagos State Public Service remains, perhaps, the only one in the country that employs people without regards to ethnic and tribal factors. Today, the state public service has in its fold Nigerians that cut across the major ethnic/ tribal divides in the country. While some states in the country employ or even retrench based on indigenization considerations, Lagos state has simply continued its policy of absorbing qualified Nigerians into its public service. It is on record that sometimes ago the Abia state government disengaged non- ‘Abians’ from its workforce because of the need to give more indigenes of the State access to employment. This has never been the case in Lagos State.

The relative peace being enjoyed in the state is a reflection of the unrelenting effort of the State government to accommodate various interest groups in the state. On a regular basis, the State government organizes stakeholders meetings with the leaders of the ethnic/tribal communities in the state to rub mind together on how to make Lagos a better place for all. Specifically, the State government has a healthy relationship with the various ethnic and tribal groups in the state. The result of this robust relationship is the atmosphere of peace and harmony that currently reign in the state.

The issues involved in the development and growth of Lagos State and, indeed, Nigeria transcends ethnic and religious sentiments. The brotherly love and bond that have existed between the Lagos State government and the diverse ethnic and tribal groups in the State must not be compromised. Fifth columnists, whose major pre-occupation is to fan the ember of disaffection for self-seeking interests must not be allowed to profit, as it is their practice, from the current false campaigns. Our hospitality in Lagos State is legendary. It is a global legend that the people of Lagos state are hospitable people. And so is the present government of the state and previous administrations.

In a political season, unusual things happen and perhaps we are living in an interesting time. There is too much at stake for anyone to begin to incite non indigenous population against their host state. It is a very dangerous and unwarranted pattern. The sad manipulation of our people through ethnic, religious and sectional differences has caused a lot of harms to our nation. It breaks the unity of our people and turns their attention away from the urgent and real matters of public interests.

Given the current thinking in Lagos State, it is strongly believed that all stakeholders in the state should play a major role in ensuring the full realization of the lofty policies and programmes of the State government for common good of everybody. Therefore, to further strengthen the current development strides in the State, there must be continuous constructive engagements and collaborations between all groups, interests and actors in the state. This is the only way forward. This is the spirit of Lagos.

•Ogunbiyi, wrote in form Lagos