By Farouk Martins Aresa…
We have to find ways to reduce resentments that have nearly reached a combustible stage. Creation of states is to give most groups a say in running their own affairs. Unfortunately, people still cry marginalization if northern part of that state is getting a bigger pie than the central or the southern part. In order to relieve most of these resentments, more states were created. Some of these states are not only unviable, they are glorified local governments.
People have metamorphosized from accommodation to tolerance and finally to resentment if they cannot enjoy opportunities meant for indigenes in their part of the state. It becomes even worse, no matter how small the state, if the resources from their area is used to cater for other areas while they feel neglected. In the case of resource rich areas, it has led to some calling for complete separation if successive governments, even if headed by their sons, neglected them.
They taught us that if stranger entered Lagos at dusk, he would be clothed, fed and given place to sleep before dawn. Nigeria and Ghana have rifts. It is more pronounced in Nigeria where it led to Nigeria/Biafra war. One would think that most Africans would have learnt a lesson or two from one another. Unfortunately, we have not. Separatist agitators are now making careers out of calls for separate countries even when they cannot support themselves internally.
Double dipped or taking advantages from two or more areas infuriate people generally. This is why laws are made that you cannot get double salaries, pensions or allowances. You have to decide on one or balance your right with privilege in the other state. It is not only inefficient since resources are limited, it is share greed. Ask yourself if it is fair for Bobo to claim two or three scholarships while others fight over only one scholarship from their state.
In the good old days, we had students on two or three scholarships: Federal and two states scholarships while others have none. While some students are going to school full time and working full time, the lucky ones spend their money on posh apartments, cars and girlfriends. They even bragged about what type of work, they would not do, if any, while their classmates were just looking for anything (buru) to survive.
We cannot do without some form of resentment as humans. India went from creating states to creating countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. It turned out that agitation to create more states raised desires for more. States and countries are sometimes created along religious lines and of course along “racial” lines. We may consider Irish as one people; it does not prevent them from being Protestants and Catholics in different countries.
Bini and Yoruba have turned against one another. There is the case of Somalis with the same language and religion but different countries. Indeed, Africans countries have been created according to colonial disposition but even if countries were created according to language or culture, there is doubt that we can have a peaceful country without agitation. South and North Sudan easily come to mind. Civil war still ravaged the newly created country of South Sudan!
The alternative is to pouch on our neighbors in the same country and claim areas and land that are not ours. So we call for rights in two or three states that are not ours. There are different ways to skin a goat or achieving the same goal. If strangers have enough people that gradually settle in different states, they can overwhelm the original settlers and take over. We have seen American Indians become oppressed minority in their own countries in the Americas.
The worst reaction in Africa so far, is the xenophobic attitudes in South Africa. It is so painful and embarrassing that coolers heads and their leaders are at a loss to explain barbaric killings of fellow Africans. The same is true in Northern Nigeria where brothers and sisters were killing one another over foreign religions. In this case, those that promised they would make Nigeria ungovernable country for one political party, later found their own people on the receiving end!
We have to be careful what we wish on our perceived enemies, it may come back and haunt us. Even when we cannot overwhelm a neighboring state in numbers, we can exaggerate or inflate our numbers claiming our contributions exceed that of the state indigenes or that poor people contribute nothing in the community. There are examples of these throughout the world where the rich oppress the poor they exploit to make money. They write law and regulation to benefit themselves. Unfortunately, it has resulted in revolts, riots and butchering of innocent people.
Most of us have to rise up to prevent massacre and unnecessary destruction of lives. Africans youths are becoming desperate because their leaders have failed them. They are either risking their lives across the desert and sea or preying on one another for money. Right now, Africans are victims of international crime syndicates: to enslave one another, for prostitution of their own sisters and as body parts at the international markets. Otherwise they try deceitful stories.
There are also fantastic and fallacious stories revising history to lay claims to land and countries that do not belong to them. They have left scientists, historians and archeologists scratching their heads trying to cope with malicious revisions. In the process of justifying their claims, they ignore scientific and genetic evidences claiming they came from the new world to the old world of Africa. This is for no other reason than to claim affinities with recognized or richer countries.
Consequently, neighbors that had gotten along with and married one another are now at one another’s throat. Urhobo, Ijaw, Itsekiri children were crying in Niger Delta: my people are killing my people! Enugu Igbo civil servants threw out Igbo that are not indigene of their state. The same is true of many states. If you do not know where you are going, you know where you are coming from. So how can we blame sons of the soil for protecting the only place they know?
No place are all these factors displayed than Lagos. Ashipa has been silent as the compromised first king of Lagos after a truce between Lagos and Bini came to a standstill in Isale Eko history. Every section of Lagos has its own Oba and chiefs: from Aromire, Onikoyi, Olumegbon, Ojora (my dad’s mother), Suenu, Onitana etc. were all children of Ogufuminire. Those that cannot differentiate each uniqueness lump Lagos Island, Brazilian Quarters, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Iddo, Ijora Ebute-Meta, Surulere, Shomolu, Ikeja Ajegunle etc. together with old Western Region as Lagos State. If you own houses anywhere or leased land for 99 years; you own Lagos? Haba!
For full disclosure: my paternal family compound has been raised to three story building at the corner of Enu Owa and Iduganran right in front of Oba Eko palace. Like most Lagos Awori, I have no kinship with Bini as Oba Eko whose maternal side was Erelu Kuti daughter of Akinsemoyin that married Alagba from Ilesha. Kuti’s mother was Awori descendant of Ashipa; of the Aromire family. Ashipa was rewarded with the first King of Lagos as compromise in gratitude for carrying the fallen Bini Prince back home. Ashipa was the father of Ado, the second king of Lagos.
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