Who is after Emeka if I may ask? Lagos has been turned into a theatre of tribal genuflections. Arrival of Ndigbo in Lagos predates the birth of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu is not a Lagosian and can never be. He is a usurper. He is a migrant to Lagos from Iragbiji in Osun State. It is not up to Tinubu to defend Lagos. It is not up to the Yoruba to defend Lagos.
By Taju Tijani
This nation has watched with clinical consistency the ethnic paranoid that recently gripped the Yoruba in their hallucinatory dream for the ownership of Lagos. They have forced open their closely guided anger against the Ndigbo who had been in their midst for centuries. What was thrown up was beyond the cherished tenet of Omoluabi commonly associated with the Yoruba. Yoruba have been arrogating to themselves the moral ostrich of Omoluabi from year dot. But where is Omoluabi in their recent vituperations, clannish chutzpah, tribalized threats and uncouth behaviour from the educated to the naïve? Who is after Emeka if I may ask?
The narrative in the social media especially from the tribal warriors is worrisome. Wounding statements are written against Ndigbo. Shameless comparisons are made between the tribes. Jaundiced historical facts about perceived Ndigbo political misadventures are parroted for the unsophisticated readers. Revisionist apostles are quick to point out all the earthly woes of Ndigbo as to see them as devils created to harm the fortune of Yoruba. Smear campaigns against their business models instantly become a parody for the Yoruba busy bodies fighting unholy war of tribal superiority. Again, who is after Emeka?
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Lagos has been turned into a theatre of tribal genuflections. Suddenly, Tinubu’s name has become a magnet where lazy Yoruba had to cling upon to openly announce their Yoruba identity. Identitarian politics suddenly configured the rainbow coalition of Lagos as a cosmopolitan city that welcomes the tired, the lame, the weak, the beaten, the hungry, the ambitious, the hustlers and the fraudsters to morph into a ticking time bomb of tribal conflagration. Sense was suspended. Emotion ran riot. Brotherliness was frozen into the ugly freezer of tribal animosity, suspicion, and hatred. Ndigbo suddenly became political and social pariah in a matter of days because of the loss suffered by the crown king of the blinded Yoruba – Bola Ahmed Tinubu!! Who is after Emeka?
Ndigbo’s arrival in Lagos predates the birth of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu is not a Lagosian and can never be. He is a usurper. He is a migrant to Lagos from Iragbiji in Osun State. A common historical fact known to all except the thick heads among the Yoruba. It is not up to Tinubu to defend Lagos. It is not up to the Yoruba to defend Lagos. Lagos had always shown itself to be completely inured to all the aches and pain of other Yoruba states in Nigeria. The ‘gedegbe lekowa’ document is still available in its hidebound copy. You may get a copy from Femi Okunnu – the defender of this lone wolf orthodoxy. Lagos has not shied away from this lonely planet principles. It refused to create its own Amotekun when other South West states deemed it necessary to protect their people from the massing hordes of Fulani herdsmen who turned Yoruba forests into killing fields. Tinubu had a stranglehold on Lagos and denied the Yoruba the sense of safety embedded in Amotekun. The whole world could only watch. Tinubu singularly muzzled the manifest destiny of Yoruba. Once again, who is after Emeka?
The Presidential election of 2023 was a deep dent on Master Tinubu’s massive ego. Lagosians who had suffered from his autocracy came out to end his monarchical terror on their destiny. First, they rubbished him in his Bourdillon fortress. PVC warriors under the direction of Labour Party took Lagos in a fairy tale fashion. Labour, in its structureless form, trounced APC, the ruling party in the epicentre of all political battles – Lagos! Lagos was freed at last. Internalised anger against injustice now found a freedom outlet. Who is after Emeka?
Smelling disaster, Yoruba political elites began a campaign of shame. Tribal shame. It was a masterful gang up in clannish overreach. Labour victory in Lagos suddenly became Ndigbo rampaging desire to own Lagos. Lazy historians began to dig up the history of Lagos and its owners. Majority of the facts were doctored and dubious. Lagos was the property of the Ilajes from Mahen who once settled on its ancient coastlines as fishermen, the Aworis and Binis. There was back and forth on the real owners of Lagos. Not for once was Tinubu’s lineage of Iragbiji mentioned. Tell me, who is after Emeka?
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One man’s desire to own Lagos has turned many decent Yoruba into attacking dogs against Ndigbo. Tinubu does not give a hoot for the Yoruba people. Yet, acolytes, blind followers and ethnic champions locate their existential struggle in the rise and rise of Ndigbo political dexterity in Lagos. The nexus of the whole problem lies in the worldview of the Yoruba. Very accommodating. Tolerant to a fault. Less aggressive towards Ndigbo. Yoruba are introvert. Ndigbo are out and out extrovert. Ndigbo are risk takers. Yoruba are risk averse.
Ndigbo are clannish and share business success within their closed circles. Yoruba are tribalists and envy their business success with mortal disdain. We talk too much about our plans, desire, and roadmap. Ndigbo keep things within their chest and talk less about future strategy. Ndigbo could go on a nomadic trip to Malaysia as a business pioneer. The Yoruba introvert will prefer to ride Maruwa or Okada in Lagos or Ibadan awaiting miracle to change his destiny. Ndigbo are frugal and could defer today’s passing pleasure for tomorrow. The Yoruba are big spenders who would waste scarce resources on owambe parties, early marriages, cars, and fanciful things. I say again, who is after Emeka?
After the civil war the rise of Ndigbo business successes caught this nation by storm. You may deride the source of their wealth as shady and probably through drug sorties to Malaysia and Bangkok. Today, the end is justifying the means. Politicians source of wealth are dirtier, murkier, and deadlier than your average Johnny. No wonder Mario Puzo once said that ‘behind every great wealth there is a crime.’ Tinubu was once a drug chief priest – that is incontrovertible. The documents are there. So, what is the big deal about Ndigbo’s dirty source of wealth? Are you still after Emeka?
The Yoruba need a rethink and fast. You cannot throw the baby with the bath water. Ndigbo have contributed to the beauty of Yoruba cities. Yes, they may be clannish just as Yoruba too have their weakness in opening up the roofs of their homes to strangers. In any part of the world, people like Ndigbo are natural leaders on all walks of life. Imagine the UK without the Asians. Imagine the US without the Hispanics. Immigrants to any nation are demographic time bomb. They will eventually gain advantage through numbers and because democracy is a game of numbers they will eventually rule.
Nigerians have been clamouring for change from the disaster of Buhari and Emilokan orthodoxy that sees the beauty of democracy as a troubling story of rigging, thuggish behaviour, toxic tribal manipulations, violence and murders. We did not have election on February 25, 2023. Rather we have angry responses to the rising power of Emeka, Ndubuisi, Chinonso and Chukwuma among us. Yoruba have drawn up a tribal battle with Ndigbo. Now onto battle. Who dares shall win. Are you still after Emeka?
•Originally published in The Niche