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Xenophobia: Not The Spirit Of Lagos

Posted: Apr 5, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

‘Kunle Uthman

Ordinarily, one would have been tempted to dismiss and ignore the post on ‘Jimi Disu’s Blog’, “Xenophobia: Not The Spirit Of Lagos”, but a careful reading clearly shows that the writer, in his efforts and determination to trivialise has not made any efforts whatsoever to appreciate the issues canvassed by Eko Foundation,  The Association of Lagos State Indigenes, Alhaji Femi Okunnu and prominent indigenes of Lagos State, such as Chief Ajose-Harrison of Badagry, of the impropriety of the appointment of Prof. Wole Soyinka as the Chairman of the Celebration Committee Of The 50th Anniversary Of The Creation Of Lagos State.


Ordinarily, “Xenophobia” will connote, ‘dislike of’ or ‘prejudice against’ people from other countries. Xenophobia can therefore be described as the fear of what is perceived to be foreign or strange. It is, therefore, defined as, “deep rooted fear towards foreigners or what is perceived to be foreign or strange.


It is proper to inquire at this stage from our ‘most revered’; Jimi Disu, as to what, in his knowledge, is Xenophobic about the appointment of Prof. Soyinka, within the above conceptualisation? Therefore, his use of this word is mischievous and solely intended to fan the embers of discord and disaffection in a simple matter, that he, Prof. Wole Soyinka being an indigenes of Isharra Remo in Ogun State is not a ‘suitable’ person to be appointed as the Chairman of The Committee For The 50 years Anniversary Celebration Of The Creation Of Lagos State,

where he does not originate either from his paternal or maternal side.


Our Most Revered Elder Statesman, Alhaji ‘Femi Okunnu, captured this views appropriately in his letter dated 14th March, 2016 to His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos State thus, “Prof. Wole Soyinka is a personal friend since our secondary school (King’s College, Lagos / Government College, Ibadan) days. I share the joy of other Nigerians in the award of Nobel Prize to him. No one can take that away from him. But as a co-chairman of Lagos State 50 Years Anniversary Committee? Haba! There are hundreds of Lagos State indigenes who can play the role. They feel the pulse of their people. It is their pulse too.”


The Setenne of Badagry Kingdom, Gbonugan Sehubo Ajose-Harrison said that the cosmopolitan nature of the state that is often used as a shield was not unique to Lagos, but also the same in cities like Kano, Port Harcourt, Akure and including Abuja. “But it is never heard of that non-indigene is appointed or did contested to any public office in these places”, “So, why Lagos? Lagos should never be all comers’ affairs. We indigenes of Lagos know ourselves and Prof. Wole Soyinka cannot claim to know Lagos more than we the indigenes.” (THE GUARDIAN, Monday, March 28, 2016, Page 8).


I have found it obligatory to copiously reference these two elder statesmen in order to enlighten Mr. Jimi Disu the basis of Eko Foundation’s objection of the choice made in error (presumably) by the Lagos State Governor, which ought to be reversed. In his letter, Alhaji Lateef Okunnu further stated, “You are the Governor of Lagos State today. For the good of your government, listen to the voice of your critics. Do not dismiss their views or opinion. Reach some accommodation with them. Talk to them. I have read some ill-informed comments in some newspapers by those who come from states which do not tolerate non-indigenes in their polity. They create a divide between you and the indigenous population of Lagos State.”



The logical argument and opposition are simply rooted in the fact that the Governor of Lagos State is wrong and should and ought not to impose on Lagosians a non indigene to Chair the 50th Anniversary Celebration of our State. He should reciprocate the symbolic choice of his contemporary, His Excellency, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, when he ignored the same Soyinka (an indigene of Ogun State) during the resoundingly successful 40th Anniversary Celebration of Ogun State. What is this hue and cry about global stature in a local celebration?


It is truly absolutely irrelevant, unrelated, and analogous as submitted by Jimi Disu that Prof. Soyinka is ‘a rare toast of global culture and the first African to win the Nobel Laureate for Literature’, and therefore Eko Foundation should forthwith quit this embarrassing campaign. This is despite the fact that Jimi Disu has confessed in his Blog that he gets his inspiration from Prof. Wole Soyinka and two other indigenes of Ogun State. One may be tempted to submit that he was simply celebrating his icon and his sins should be forgiven. Is Jimi Disu an indigene of Ogun State?



Mr. Jimi Disu should for his own benefit and that of the public heed the advice of Anthony D’Angelo when he advised that people like him should develop a passion for learning, because otherwise they will cease to grow. He needs to truly appreciate the thrust of protestations of Eko Foundation against the deliberate marginalisation of indigenes of Lagos State by the administration of His Excellency Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, of which his choice of Prof. Wole Soyinka as Chairman of the Anniversary Celebrations is nothing but a footnote.


Uthman, a legal practitioner, writes from Lagos