All protocols are duly observed.
Good day ladies and gentlemen. My name is Abideen Muhammed Ayomide. It gives me a great pleasure to stand in front of the world today to discuss the most controversial issue among the people of Lagos State. I make bold to say that the notion is not only erroneous but misleading and I therefore stand to debunk the popular illusion that Lagos State is a no man’s land.
For decades, people have harboured different images and perception of Lagos and its aborigines (original owners), some of which are far from truth. The erroneous view that Lagos is no man’s land for instance, is either a demonstration of ignorance or a joke carried too far. This expression in one part is by-product of the generosity, hospitality and level of social integration of the people of Lagos.
They insist that the sun, the stars, the rivers, et cetera came out of the blues with no single initiator, yet with perfect order.
And if I may ask, how will you feel if someone argues that your phones, plates and shoes, all came into existence without the effort of anybody – no maker? If you can’t accept the above claims, will it not be repugnant to common sense to also claim that Lagos is a no man’s land? Undoubtedly, this assertion is not only bogus, it is preposterous!
There is no doubt that Igbos have acquired many property in Lagos. In fact, they have contributed immensely to the development of Lagos and have occupied a lot of land but are these enough reasons for them to lay claim to ownership of Lagos? Will it equally be correct for the Hausas to lay claim to ownership of Idi-Araba in Mushin, Mile 12, Masamasa or Alaba Rago areas in Lagos.
Such a claim (by some Igbos and other non indigenes in Lagos) only shows how ungrateful, paranoid and haughty some visitors could be to their hosts. It is pertinent to note that the ownership and control of all land is vested in the government of a state. The state government can at any time revoke the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), if need be, and pay out compensation. For sure, the hospitality of the people of Lagos should neither be taken for granted nor be used against them!
The truth must also be told, all the visible developments that have made Lagos a land of opportunities and a place for all are products of deliberate planning and steady struggle. They did not just happen by accident. The great efforts of past Lagos monarchs, the invaluable efforts of sons and daughters of Lagos like Herbert Macaulay during colonial era have indeed contributed to this.
What about role of Lagos great leaders like Obafemi Awolowo who facilitated the creation of the first Industrial Estate in Black Africa at Ikeja on Oba Akran. He established the first Five Star hotel called Airport Hotel which still stands till date in Ikeja. Lagos has a portion of control of the share capital of those companies like Tower Aluminum, ABM, Dunlop, etc till date. So why the lies and the folktales?
Another misrepresentation from another quarters is a dubious claim that has become a cliche, “We all own Lagos” – Gbogbo wa l’aleko”. No, Lagos is not owned by everybody. The Yorubas own Lagos, the Aworis in particular. The claim appears to be sociological and economically correct, rather than logical and historical reality.
True indigenes of Lagos State have their ancestral connection not later than the end of the 19th century, and could point to their family houses in Lagos State. (Lagos and its Environment by Professor Ajetunmobi).
No one will deny the fact that seventy percent of the inhabitants of Lagos State are not indigenes and the same percentage of pupils and students in the state’s school are from other States in Nigeria. This is so because Lagos State is a metropolitan city and everyone loves to settle therein.
The fact that the indigenous Yorubas of Lagos have magnanimously allowed others to thrive and settle in their land and share it with them doesn’t take away the ownership of their land from them. The illusion that Lagos is a ”no-man’s land’ and that the Igbos or any other nationality outside the Yorubas contribute up to 55 per cent of its revenue or GDP (so to speak) is absolutely absurd and has no basis in realm of rationality. It is not only a dirty lie, it is also very insulting to the sensibilities of the hosts.
This can only remind one of a statement credited to former Governor Babatunde Fashola, and I quote:
“It will be very uncharitable for anyone to suggest that Lagos is a no-man’s land. This is the Land of my ancestors and it will be uncharitable for me to walk into your home and say your home is ‘BONA VACANTIA’, which is ‘no-man’s land’. It perhaps, shows a lack of understanding; an impolite way of expressing a Stake! And Stakes are legitimate, but are quite different from ownership”
There is no, no-man’s land anywhere in the world. There are always the original settlers. In the case of Lagos, it’s a misnomer to say Lagos is a no-man’s land. It’s rubbish. Absolute rubbish! Lagos was peopled by the Aworis and Awori land spread from Badagry through to Ota. They settled mostly in Ikeja, a division of Lagos. The Idejo chiefs, the white cap chiefs who are the land owning chiefs, are basically Aworis and some of them are now Obas.
Perhaps, my friend may erroneously be standing on the misleading statements of Oba Rilwan Akiolu, I will do him a great favour by referring him to an article of a concerned Awori tittled : ‘Akiolu, I beg to disagree’, Lagos (Eko) belongs to the Aworis. Here is a paragraph from the write up.
“Oba Akinolu is neither an Awori nor Yoruba, his forebears are not Lagosians in the real sense of the word. They were Binis (Arota Bini ni won). He is only making a futile attempt to rewrite history in a way that will favour his children’s claim to Oba of Lagos throne.
He is the first and probably going to be the only one from his lineage to ascend the throne judging by the unfolding trend of events.”
Another argument that may be advanced is that since the first Oba to rule Lagos State was from Benin Kingdom (ie Oba Ado) it means the land does not belong to the Yorubas. I say here that monarchy system is different from democratic system. For instance, Prophet Muhammad ruled, Yathrib (the City of Madinah) and this has never made Madinah ‘a no man’s land’. Similar case was re-enacted in Ilorin, Kwara state. The fact that the first king in Ilorin (a Yoruba land) was a Fulani from the North doesn’t turn Ilorin to the land of the Fulanis or a no man’s land. I have not seen a town or a community (that uses monarch system) where an outsider who became their king eventually claimed the original ownership of the land. If it occurs, then it is politrick beyond expectations!
Yet, we must speak the truth to ourselves. More often than not, some of those who are not of Yoruba extraction but have lived in Lagos for a longer period have proclaimed themselves as bonafide Lagosians and honorary members of the Yoruba race. Clearly, this cannot be far fetched. It cannot be completely wished away for it is high time we answered the nationality and citizenship question. This has to be settled once and for all.
Conclusively, it will be great if the state government includes the study of the history of Lagos in our curriculum, from primary schools to Higher institutions. This will go a long way to reduce the wide spread misconceptions about the real owners of Lagos State.
By Abideen Muhammed Ayomide
Long live Ambode
Long live Lagos State
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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