Saturday, September 28, 2013


When 19 Igbos were deported to Anambra state by the Lagos State Government a few months back, an Igbo/Yoruba an online bashing ignited between the two tribes. On July 24, the Lagos State government had deported about 70 destitute people to Onitsha, Anambra State; a move that sparked a heated row between the two states as well as scathing criticisms on both state governors. Former minister of Aviation Femi Fani Kayode then added salt to the wound by penning a controversial and offensive piece. To ease the matter Governor Fashola apologized to the igob people for the incident.

Governor Fashola apologized to Igbo people for the incident during a ceremony to mark the Silver Jubilee anniversary of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo social-cultural group in Lagos. He said:
“The truth is that I do not have a problem with the Igbos, they know that because the largest herd of cattle I received during my father’s burial came from the Ndigbo. Those people who came under their many colours are not people I have a problem with, they are my kindred and my people. Also, there were people who did not clearly understand me and they have misunderstood words said or misrepresented actions taken in the way that it has pleased them to do so. To those people, I owe an explanation, not a defence of what has happened and that is partly why I am here.

Despite Fashola’s tendered apology, Femi didn’t feel the apology was necessary.

“Consequently I do not believe that Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola ought to have tendered any form of apology whatsoever to the Igbo for what he did,” he added.

“The only redeeming factor is the fact that the apology was obviously designed simply to calm frayed nerves and I commend Fashola for that gesture if nothing else,” the former minister said.

“I say this because my understanding is that he apologised NOT for the deportation itself but for ‘the misunderstanding that arose from it’. There is a world of difference between the two,” he added.

Another dimension was added to the debate after Orji Kalu, a former Abia State governor, termed Lagos a ‘no man’s land,’ an appellation that added fresh fury to the conversation.

Mr. Fani-Kayode accused Mr. Fashola of betraying the Yorubas who stood by him doing the row generated by the deportation.

“If I were Governor of Lagos state I would never have apologised for the execution of a legitimate and lawful exercise which was absolutely necessary and which was done in the interests of my state and my people, no matter how many cows I had been offered or given by the kinsmen of those affected,” said Mr. Fani-Kayode.

“What Fashola has done, albeit inadvertently, is to betray those amongst his Yoruba kith and kin that stood by him and defended him when he took that historic and controversial decision to deport the Igbo destitutes.

“He has also fuelled the erroneous impression that is held by most of the Igbo that the Yoruba people and their leaders are bumbling and inconsistent cowards that cannot stand firm when put under pressure and when faced with threats and hardship.”

Mr. Fani-Kayode further said that it is important for the Lagos State governor to consider the long term implications of his purported apology to the Igbos.

“The truth is that in life perception counts for everything. And rightly or wrongly the perception that most people have, particularly amongst the Igbo, is that Fashola has indeed apologised for the deportations.

“This perception is supported by misleading newspaper headlines which were drafted and written by journalists who did not bother to read the text or properly decipher the statement…

“In any case now that dishing out apologies is the order of the day and he has set the precedent, the question has to be asked – will Peter Obi take a cue from that, be a gentleman and apologize for deporting the people of Akwa Ibom from his Anambra state as well?

“Is Obi that reasonable or charitable? Do those that think like him believe that what is good for the goose is good for the gander? I doubt it very much.

“Again will Fashola apologize to the numerous northerners that he deported from Lagos as well and will he apologize to his Yoruba kith and kin from Oyo and Osun for deporting them too? I really do wonder how far this new-found large-heartedness and seasonal expression of regrets will go? Will it be spread everywhere or is it exclusively reserved for the Igbo?”

The ex-minister further accused Mr. Fashola of double standards, capitulation of values, and a revocation of principle.

“You don’t apologise for government policy just to appease a certain group of people no matter how bellicose, violent, loud and aggressive they may be,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.

“It is better to lose a million elections outside Yorubaland than to concede even one inch of Yoruba territory to those that seek to lay claim to that which is not theirs. A word is enough for the wise.”