ARTICLE: AN OPEN LETTER TO FEMI FANI-KAYODE
By Kene Ugochukwu
I read your unbalanced and disgusting post where you totally disregarded the contribution of the Igbos to the transformation of Lagos State into the Mega City which it is today and I would not treat it like water under the bridge.
Mr. Kayode , you had your elementary, secondary and university education in the United Kingdom yet you claim to be so proficient in the history of Lagos. According to you, the Igbos were just buying up stalls in Isale Eko, Computer town, Alaba and Ajegunle, but before the advent of the Igbos in Isale Eko ,it was a deplorable shanty town with poor sanitary practices. The Inhabitants of Isale Eko still passed feaces into buckets and engaged the services of the “Agbepos” (feaces disposers) to dispose feacal matter. When the Igbos came in with their commercial revolution, they improved on the infrastructure of Isale Eko and introduced proper sanitary practices. Despite this, up till today the houses built by the natives of Isale Eko are still clinging to each other like teammates posing for group pictures before a football game. Computer Village not Computer town was a den of criminals and hooligans until the Igbos made it a conducive environment for trading. According to the Minister of communication technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the market generates $2bn(#300bn) for the Nigerian economy annually.
I am still wondering the kind of Historian that would not take account of Late Sir Louis Ojukwu’s contribution to the development of Lagos. He was the founding president of the Nigerian Stock exchange as well as the founder of African continental bank (ACB). History has it that it was an Igbo man that ran a big textile factory in the area of land where University of Lagos is situated today until he surrendered it for the establishment of the premier institution. The JAMB office situated today in Ikoyi is also part of Sir Louis Ojukwu’s properties seized by the government after the war which was later released to his family through one of his sons, late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1993. It is also worthy to note that during Queen Elizabeth’s first visit to Nigeria in the year 1956, Sir Louis made his Rolls Royce car available for the Queen’s carriage as the Nigerian government could not afford a Rolls Royce at that time. There was also Kenneth .O. Dike the Historian who was the founder of the Ibadan school and first Vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, also Professor Eni Njoku the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos. All these are prominent Nigerians of Igbo extraction.
The commercial nerve center of this Mega city Lagos is controlled by the Igbos and their taxes have contributed immensely to what Lagos is today. The Igbo race consists of a set of highly spirited people who are resilient in whatever they set their hands upon. They were neither deterred by the draconian policy of Awolowo which led to the depletion of their bank deposits to a meager 20 pounds without any form of justification, nor scared of the pogrom against the Igbo race in the northern part of the country. The indigenization policy adopted by various multinational companies after independence facilitated the easy transfer of control over these organizations to the Yorubas and that is why they are predominantly on the board of companies like Cadbury, Unilever, P.Z, U.A.C e.t.c but the Igbos could not buy into these companies with their already diminished financial reserves. The massive influx of the Igbos into the western part of Nigeria most especially Lagos in the search of greener pastures was precipitated by the poverty they faced after the dwindling of their bank reserves and the support given to the Rivers State government by the Nigerian Government to hold onto the seized properties of the Igbos . And where are the Igbos today? You referred to them as guests, but they have put the home of their hosts in order and repositioned it into what it is today. About seventy percent of the ultramodern houses that are in Lagos today are owned by the Igbos.
I am a Historian too, and as a Historian, you have to be objective with your account and never be economic with the truth. The history of Lagos can never be told without taking into account the contributions of the Igbos. There is no way your Eurocentric Lecturers would have been able to teach you a true account of the history of Lagos.
Finally, I have noticed the manner with which you latch onto issues in recent times and one may want to ask, what is the underlying purpose of these your comments, are you trying to re-launch yourself into the political arena ? But please before you do that, as a Historian which you are, can you do us a favour by giving us a historical account of how you squandered billions of naira as the Aviation Minister, a job you got through the jobs for the boys system operated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and at the end of the day obviously you made no significant input into that sector. Thank God for Mrs Stella Oduah “an Igbo woman” who has revamped the sector to what it is today.
Governor Fashola’s decision to deport some Igbos is indeed a very hard bullet for the Igbo race to bite and anyone who supports such a move should consider himself or herself an enemy of the one Nigeria we all dream of.