By: John Okiyi-Kalu
Any editor whose media house carried “Fashola apologizes to Igbos over deportation” should urgently review
the transcripts of the event where Governor Fashola purportedly issued the apology.
Fashola offered no apology for deportation but rather offered more insults to Nigerians of Igbo origin after Aka Ikenga members bought cows for him during his father’s burial. How any news editor missed this fact is disturbing and points to either an attempt to hoodwink readers or stoke more controversies out of the unfortunate desecration of our laws.
But the more shocking aftermath of the “breaking news” is that same people that initially claimed others were wrong to call out Fashola on the breach of Nigeria’s federal constitution are now trumpeting the purported apology. Even after some of them wrote long articles and granted interviews to lampoon the rest of us that genuinely felt angst at the flagrant violation of our federal constitution by a lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria. Some of these partisan slaves were so malicious that one of them, who unfortunately is of Igbo origin, claimed that “Igbos are responsible for all the kidnap in Lagos”.
Only an enslaved mind seeking to please his pay masters could have made such unverified generalisation even in the face of evidence provided by links like this: //pmnewsnigeria.com/2013/
The same “Fashola-has-apologized” gang were the first to ethnicise the deportation to head bridge saga by failing to see it as the constitutional breach it was. In their haste to lend support to their slave masters they
forgot our constitution and what it means to be a “Federal Republic of Nigeria”. Even otherwise respected Professors of law started speaking in diverse tongues without reference to the grand norms of our union.
In due course drug and sex addicts, deported felons, national irritants and their sundry fans soon took over the debate and made it a Yoruba-Igbo “war”. It was Never a Yoruba versus Igbo thing, except in the minds of pseudo nationalists who claim to be patriots in the day time and tribal irredentists at night. Fashola never
asked for the approval of the Yoruba nation before embarking on this illegality.
When the news of Fashola apologizing to Igbos over the deportation broke yesterday, I opted to read the full transcript of what he said, watch and listen to him before accepting or rejecting his apology. I have vested interest in the saga by virtue of being a Nigerian of Igbo origin. Here is what I gleaned from most sources.
Speaking yesterday (26/9/13), as the guest of honour at the 25th anniversary symposium of the Aka Ikenga, a pan-Igbo organisation, with the theme: ‘Nigeria, the Challenge of Democracy’, held in Lagos, Fashola said no amount of blackmail could tarnish the long lasting relationship between the state government and Igbo.
“It was started by our ancestors. It was handed over to us and we have nourished it with a lot of trust, with lots of understanding and with a lot of fidelity. Those who misunderstand that relationship, who think that there is no value in that relationship; I have come here to correct.
“I place a lot of value on that relationship. And so, if those people have misunderstood me or they have misunderstood actions taken by our government, here, now and today, I offer an unqualified and unreserved apology. But it does not take away the real questions that cause misunderstanding and it is those questions that Aka Ikenga must address if it must continue to fulfill its purpose.
“Why should people feel compelled to emigrate from one place to the other? Is there one part of this country that is less endowed, whether in human or natural resource? Is that the problem? Is it the case that perhaps, some parts are so endowed or not adequately managed? Those are the honest debates that we must have. The political storm is gathering and allusions have been made to the issues.” (Source: sunnewsonline.com/new/
Does the above position meet the demand of a public apology to “all those illegally deported?”. My simple answer is NO.
Fashola only apologized to those Igbo people who “misunderstood him” or “actions taken by his government”. In my view, those are not the deported people. If you ever misunderstood any action taken by LASG Fashola apologized to you. But if you were deported from Lagos to Onitsha, Akure or Kaduna, nothing for you. And there is nothing to misunderstand about being illegally arrested and incarcerated at Ikorodu before being dumped on top of a lonely bridge at 3am. It happened to you and you know and feel it. All in High Definition (HD).
The best definition of an unqualified apology in an issue such as this will be “an acknowledgment expressing regret or asking pardon for a fault or offense”. It is ordinarily expected that such an acknowledgement will be followed by practical acts of restitution including (but not limited to) a commitment not to repeat same offence. With such a minimal act, all those involved will be morally compelled to accept the apology and consider their travails as a sacrifice for greater good. It must not necessarily involve cash compensation,
even though that might as well be further proof of a contrite mind aiming to return the offended back to prior offence status.
Did Fashola express regret for the deportation or for being misunderstood? I leave you to answer that question given that I have no claim to superior understanding of English Language. But it is my position that he expressed no regret for the breach of our law. In any case, the sin of breaching the constitution you swore to uphold cannot be easily wiped off by simply apologising to those who misunderstood the breach. It is also not a good closure for this matter.
In my view, the Attorney General and minister for justice will need to provide legal guidance on the subject matter to all the states of the federation, not just Fashola’s Lagos. It is true that Fashola is not the first and will likely not be the last to illegally remove Nigerians from a Nigerian state to another. At best, his actions were the most advertised because they happened at a time the internet revolutionized information dissemination and improved citizens access to information in Nigeria. Fashola might well be seen as the scape goat for this hitherto unchecked violation of citizens’ rights by those in authority.
Yet Fashola, a lawyer, was being smart with words, as further made obvious by his attempts at rationalising his action. How else can one position the following posers he raised: “Why should people feel compelled to emigrate from one place to the other? Is there one part of this country that is less endowed, whether in human or natural resource? Is that the problem? Is it the case that perhaps, some parts are so endowed or not adequately managed?”
In the first place, Nigerian states are not equally endowed. I wonder if the fact that about 12 states are responsible for 90% of our annual revenue is not known to the governor or his speech writers. It is also obvious that national revenue is not equally distributed among the 36 states. At least I know Fashola’s Lagos
receive the highest federal allocation after the 3 major oil derivation states. Governor Fashola’s rhetorical posers will only make sense if we are sharing national revenue strictly on equality of states or through 100% derivation.
Lagos and Abuja owe their superior infrastructural development to a disproportionately high allocation of federal resources to them as former or current capital cities respectively. The understanding must have been that the cities/states also host more Nigerians who naturally moved to where more resources were positioned by the Federal government. As far as I know, population remains a major criteria for sharing our national revenue. The more Nigerian citizens hosted by a state, the more federal money given to the state. Those two cities are also major urban centres in Nigeria and hence attract more visitors than others albeit it
with the attendant problems of urbanisation. If federal infrastructure in Lagos and Abuja are redistributed or replicated equally throughout the major cities of Nigeria, I strongly doubt if Ondo or Anambra State born Nigerians will relocate to Lagos or Abuja in large numbers.
The one truth that requires no “further debate” is that some states are more endowed than others in natural and human resources. NDDC states produce most of our national revenue and the states of the south are more educationally advanced than those of the North. Teachers, doctors, engineers and other professionals
from the south still migrate northward to fill available vacancies. (Fashola’s deportation policy puts such migration in jeopardy too).
Seamless inter-state migration in a Federal Republic is not necessarily a negative but rather reflects the true essence of having a federation. People move freely to where they deem better and in the process help to develop those areas or take development from there to other parts of Nigeria. Any policy that limits this
interaction envisaged by our founding fathers only seek to separate and dis-unite us as a country. Even then, it can only be possible if appropriate federal legislation against our federal system is enacted. That should mean to your tents O’ Nigerians.
We have a great window pf opportunity to get a positive out of this deportation saga. Where the
attorney general and minister of justice remain reluctant to issue necessary guidance because of political expediency, human rights lawyers and organisations like Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) etc owe us the duty to sue Lagos and legally establish the illegality of inter state deportation. In the same vein, the governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, must show courage and rise beyond political considerations and put this matter before the supreme court. Writing the President is not enough, especially when no response from the President or his staff is available in the public domain.
As for those Igbos who assiduously defended the deportation policy, they must apologise to us or forever hide their heads in shame for selling the rest of us cheap. They are the people who make others believe that Igbos can be bought and sold with money or social and political comforts. If you don’t apologise, we should feel free to use the fact of your betrayal against you in all ways possible. Not long ago a Senator from the South West who voted for child marriage against the wishes of his people had the decency to kneel and beg his constituents. I consider him a good man who understands that power is held in trust for the people and must be exercised in full consideration of the people’s wishes first. What we have so far from our own Deportation Senator are rationalizations and playing with words like “translocation”, in his bid to escape from simple “I am sorry, I made a mistake”.
Rationalizing an anti-electorate action is the highest form of arrogance and disregard for those who graciously gave power to you. In most climes where free and fair elections are conducted such politicians are punished electorally.
When and if Fashola decides that an apology is appropriate, we demand a simple “I am sorry and
promise it won’t happen again”.
It is only after that we can say “Raji, go and sin no more”.