Elnathan John: About Femi Fani-Kayode’s ‘bitter truth’

by Elnathan John

femi fani-kayode...

My opinion in this matter is simple. A Lagosian as a social term is any Nigerian citizen who is permanently domiciled in Lagos, pays tax to the Lagos State Government and calls Lagos home.

I am always wary of people who claim they know the ‘real story’ or the ‘truth about’ something. I am even more suspicious when someone qualifies an attempt at revisiting a phenomenon with the term ‘bitter truth’. People are no longer content with just giving their opinion about things and leaving it at that. They must declare it to be the truth and other opinions, lies.
Femi Fani-Kayode over the last few weeks wrote at least three articles about or concerning the Igbo. This ex-Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is hardly one that can be ignored especially as media houses seem to be addicted to publishing his mostly shockingly extremist views, from a conservative Christian denunciation of Obama and the American Democratic Party as antichrists and members of the illuminati to an open hatred of the Igbo ethnic group. Some people decide to ignore his views altogether, treating them as the rants of an insane person. I choose not to. Because a little spark is what causes a fire.
I will examine some of the things Fani-Kayode has said about the Igbo in relation to the Yoruba, things in my opinion bordering on hate speech. In the worst of those articles, titled The Bitter Truth About The Igbo, he begins by stating that “some of those that are not of Yoruba extraction but that have lived in Lagos for some part of their lives have tried to claim that they are bona fide Lagosians.” He goes ahead to say that “Lagos and the South-west are the land and the patrimony of the Yoruba and we will not allow anyone, no matter how fond of them we may be, to take it away from us or share it with us in the name of ”being nice”, ”patriotism”, ”one Nigeria” or anything else”.
Certain questions arise from this statement. What is a ‘Lagosian’? Is ‘Lagosian’ a categorization known to our law? What is the legal consequence of not being a ‘Lagosian’? Who ‘owns’ Lagos?
It is my opinion that the constitution is not silent on this matter. The implication of being a Nigerian is clearly set out and it is instructive to consider in full some of the provisions that are fundamental human rights. Sections 41-43 of the Constitution provide as follows:
41. (1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.
42. (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
43. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.
In creating the right to freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination, the law does not divide Nigeria into what Fani-Kayode refers to as ‘ethnic nationalities’.  The law has created a federalism where, although states are semi-autonomous legal entities, individuals having Nigerian citizenship have equal rights to live and own property throughout the federation.
The law further states that no one because of being a member of a certain ethnic group, shall be subjected “to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, are not made subject”. It cannot get clearer than this.
To say that Lagos is the land and patrimony of the Yoruba and will not be ‘shared’ is to disregard and disrespect the constitution. Fani-Kayode forgets that there are Yoruba all across Nigeria who have become, by virtue of being domiciled for many years, indigenous to those places. In Kano for example, many Yoruba have intermarried with the Hausa and become ‘indigenes’ of Kano. In Kaduna and even Plateau, many who do not originally come from these places now claim those states as ‘states of origin’. This for me is the beauty of our federal structure at least in principle.
The fact that Lagos state appoints an Igbo in its executive cabinet is not magnanimity. It is recognition of the influence and massive presence of the Igbo in Lagos. Lagos by virtue of its geographical location and more than that its status as capital of Nigeria for many decades, means that it cannot escape its cosmopolitan nature. As a capital, the whole nation fed it with human and material resources as it fed the whole nation. To suddenly call it solely the property of the Yoruba is to introduce the same kind of dangerous rhetoric that led to the civil war in the first place.
Fani-Kayode, in probably the most embarrassing line in that article states: “the Igbo continuously run us down, blame us for all their woes, envy our educational advantages and resent us deeply for our ability to excel in the professions and commerce”. He blamed them for getting themselves killed in the pre-civil war pogroms saying that “It is that same attitude of ”we own everything”, ”we must have everything” and ”we must control everything” that the Igbo settlers manifested” that led their slaughter in the Northern pogroms.
And in all of this his reference was one speech by ex-Abia governor, Orji Uzo Kalu wherein he called Lagos ‘no man’s land’. It was this statement that fueled his treatment of the entire Igbo people like a little clan that met in Kalu’s house and came out with a communiqué claiming Lagos as theirs.
If this isn’t hate speech, I don’t know what is. Fani-Kayode may be insane, but all it takes is one insane man to drive us all into the abyss of war.
I hope Fani-Kayode’s political friends in the APC are listening as he continually spews hate and stokes the fires so familiar to us all.
I wonder if Fani-Kayode has imagined what Lagos would look like if all the non-Yoruba currently living in Lagos and calling it home, left together with their money and investment.
My opinion in this matter is simple. A Lagosian as a social term is any Nigerian citizen who is permanently domiciled in Lagos, pays tax to the Lagos State Government and calls Lagos home.
In the end we have a choice. To preserve the unity of this nation or feed on the hate that people like Fani-Kayode, aided by the media, spread.
Read this article on Elnathan’s Blog
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (24)

  1. It is clear that Fani Kayode escaped imbecility by whiskers. Former President Obasanjo, his Yoruba brother, even recognized that when he noted that the thoughtless Kayode was not like his gentle father. I think he should be ignored or helped in overcoming boredom by little responses such as this since he is unemployed.

  2. well,lagos is not the igbo mans home.the igbo mans home is the east,u remember where the three wise men came from in the bible(biafra).in 1967 they all ganged up to stop us from going,maybe this time around we will be allowed to go.honestly i think its time to go.egypt is good but israel is better(please pharoah let my people go).we are survivors,we are the greatest.just watch out…

  3. If I understand the ‘turenchi’ better, then being domiciled in Igbo land and being eminently qualified and married to an Igbo person should earn me a Commissionership or a juicy political appointment as a Yoruba man. Brotherman, we know the probability for this is nigh zero in the South East. Come of it, whether Fani-Kayode is labeled an Igbo-hater or not is not the issue here, what most Igbo people do in Yoruba land cannot be tried by other tribes in Igbo land. The truth is the truth, no matter whose boil is lanced. Our land is our land no matter the constitution.

  4. Before Ibos annex Lagos; a little reminder (to refresh our memory) THERE WAS A COUNTRY and Lagos wasn’t geographically a part.

  5. Ibos started the whole thing, other tribes were deported(even within the Yoruba Nation) no outbrust or foul cry but the Ibos are the only ones to whine, complain and condemn. Na only una dey.

  6. i beg to differ. it is not magnanimity rather it is political wisdom the population of the igbo in lagos cannot be ignored. remember this bulk of people have the power to vote. so any wise government in order to retain their vote would necessarily involve them in the executive cabinet.

  7. Thanks for having the courage to stand by the truth. Individuals like Fani Kayode are insane. Drumming up hatered by twisting facts to make themselves important will only bring more trouble. His myopic opinion and hate did not allow him see beyond the comfort of his upbringing and the true state of Nigeria today.
    Many of those that hail his writeup are not aware of the history and the damage callous and stupid statements can do to a nation. He wants to be a Yoruba spokesman, I wish him well but he MUST remember that Nigeria has gone gone beyond ethinic superiority. Fani Kayode as a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should have known better.

  8. He is the mouth piec of the Yoruba majority. He stated it on his apology later to Igbo’s, when he is praising the Yoruba people for the surport they gave to him throughout the period of the debate.

  9. To be honest, Igbos hate yorubas much more than you think. I’m speaking by what I have personally experienced with them. Why would anyone abandon their own states and go to visit the place only at christmas? Charity begins at home they say. Lagos was the most developed city in Nigeria even before it was chosen to be the nation’s capital. And it was because of its ready civility that it was chosen in the first place. Yoruba’s have a open heart. That was why the westerners brought education to us first before spreading it to d east and then north. I served in Anambra, asides Onitsha no single town can be said to be civil. Not even Awka the state capital. The village I served in, no electricity for d whole of my one year stay. We corpers had to buy a small generator. I wonder how u claim to develop other people’s states when u can’t even develop yours. Your governors are busy embezzling money, no good roads in the east. Just mud roads and cassava all over the place. I understand FFK’s anger. And indeed if you have read Chinua Achebe’s very biased There Was A country, you will understand better. I respected him, but to me he died as a Biafran not a Nigerian. His book started this whole hate and fresh ethnic rivalry.

    1. @ Kemi. What is biased about Achebe’s “There was a country”? Is it false that Awo was the progenitor of the arbitrary 20 pounds fraud; which was designed to herd the igbos to the margin and periphery in the Nigerian scheme of things, during the post civil war indigenisation programme?, is it false that the genocide that consumed over 3million Biafran children was the brainchild of Awo?, among others… Just because Achebe reflected on these undisputable truisms in the book, u refused to see other good things in the book and termed it Bias. Prof. Achebe was a man of impeccable character who equally criticized atrocities and evils with the witty acerbic tips of his pen. If u believe Achebe died a Biafran and not a Nigerian, is because Nigeria as a country was built on falsehood and genocide.

      1. [email protected],so y did achebe fail to point to d misdeeds of his kins men(igbos) if he isn’t tribalistic.I also rmba d@ prof wole soyinka said he told ur war lord ojukwu,dat he shud quit tinking abt d war bcos d igbos aint ready 4 it

  10. Couldnt have said it better, in my opinion this whole settler and indigene mindset is inimical to national development and integration and helps to fuel the embers of ethnic and regional hatred. People like Mr Fani Kayode who have held national posts should not promote division and engage in hate speech. He has shown over time that he is a bit insane but insane or not he cannot go around spreading hate in our society. I have chosen to ignore him, the rest of Nigeria should as well.

  11. Im quite disappointed at this Igbos. I served in Igbo land (Imo to be exact)and you should see huge house/mansions built there and abandoned. Its only Igbos I know that would abandon their home state and go and develop other states. Does your home state stink link that? If the igbos can develop their states like they claim they have done to Lagos wont it be a welcome development as it would usher in more employment and financial development. instead they allow their leaders to milk them dry, ruin their states so that every growing Igbo would have no other choice but to go out and leave in another mans land to make it in life. Goto Artic region. You will find an Igbo man there.
    Lagos is collectively ours but when civil war starts you remember your roots. Intolerant Hypocrites. And I am not a Hater too. If you think I am, advise a Yoruba friend of yours born and breed in Imo state to run for the post of just Local Government.

  12. I think FFK is only mouthing what the average Yoruba thinks of the Igbo, SUBBORDINATE N INFERIOR. FFK’s speeches r so full of hate n arrogance very evident in the condescending manner he spoke about his “ex” female igbo intimate friend n how he almost took one as “second” wife. Did he have to use positions esp when they r not necessary but of course since its just igbo nau u got to put us in our place. What is really the problem n according to happy nigerian, oga FFK what r u not saying? What r u expecting the igbos to deduce from ur speeches? After the june 12 saga that many but not all igbos left lagos, we all know how lagos was. We don’t too much history nor economics to know, even the lay men on the street felt it.

  13. Dear Samson, the writer did not state that HE AGREED with the statement that lagos was “no man’s land”. He simply stated that it was something that set FFK on this rant.

    No one denies that Lagos “land” belongs to Onirus, elegunshins etc.

    But that is NOT the point.

    The bottom line is that Lagos, as well as other parts of Nigeria, belong to Nigerians.

    We are Nigerians. This fighting within ourselves is absolutely foolish. We have no light! no Water! no Good roads! no Education! our Children are dying because of CORRUPTION and GREED.

    These tribalists articles like that of FFK show absolute Ignorance.

    As a journalist I’ve come to learn that whenever someone courts media attention and makes controversial statements like this, they are simply trying to distract and have you look the other way.

    FFK what are you NOT saying?

    FFK it is sad that you have made your career come to this.

  14. Every Nigerian is indeed free to live in any part of the country and so shall it continuaally be. But that doesn’t still make lagos a “no man’s land” we should. Face the substaance in what FFK has said and leave the shadow that some of you,in failling to face the truth are currently chassing..lagos belongs to the onirus,the elegunshins,the oyekans and so on..no yoruba man will go to aba or onicha no matter how prosperious it becomes and throw the “no man’s land shit on ya faces..I love Nigeria and I’m sure we all do but we must also know our places in the scheme of things so we shall continually co-exist with one another!

  15. Every Nigerian is indeed free to live in any part of the country and so shall it continuaally be. But that doesn’t still make lagos a “no man’s land” we should

    1. Firstly Mr Elnathan, I must commend you for the time and effort you put in this article. Now I would move straight to the point.

      Most of what you wrote are not facts in themselves whether or not you read about it or were told by elders. As such, I would treat them as such, opinions.

      I must state this as a premise, so no one goes judgmental on me. I love the Igbos and I happen to be engaged to one. That said, I must move on.

      Quite a number of things reek of hate, both for FFK and our opinion writer, Elnathan. In both opinions you see hatred spew forth. Now I do not know Elnathan’s tribe but that is irrelevant, we are all Nigerians, not so? I would like that to be what is obtainable but that is highly untrue. On the average, we cannot tolerate each other. We do not have a collective spirit and this was passed on to us by those older than us.

      Igbos have been known to be resilient and savvy when it comes to commerce. An igbo man can survive anywhere, that much is true. Does that mean it’s only trade that keeps a nation standing on its feet? Surely healthcare, tourism, education as well as other innovations are also important, not so?

      We must understand that we co-exist as one. Now I am upset at that statement ‘no-man’s land’ as reiterated by Orji Uzor Kalu and Elnathan’s seeming belief that it is only Orji that thinks this! Beneath the facade that some folks project, I do think a number of tribes think it is no man’s land. I urge them to read more about Lagos and not depend on stories told to them by their grandparents who may not even have an iota of understanding about Lagos and it’s inception.

      Elnathan was quick to reproduce a section of the Nigerian Constitution that encapsulates the Federal Spirit. The law in itself is correct, it’s application, is worrisome especially in the context.

      Some of us commenting here talk about ‘other states contributing to Lagos to make it what it is’. That is ideally true but I do not think that it is the sole reason for the prosperity of Lagos State. I rather think individuals have contributed to make it the somewhat cosmopolitan state it is.Let’s ask ourselves this, what and how was Lagos before it was considered to be the capital? Was it a slum and suddenly it became beautiful because of our ‘investors’?

      Mr Elnathan, I am peeved by your remark that ‘what would Lagos be if all the investors took their investments and left’ in reference to Igbos being major stakeholders in Lagos. Now, I rather think that Lagos has foreign investors as well and would not crumble in a heartbeat if ‘my in-laws’ decided to leave. Yes, it would affect the state but no, it won’t collapse on its head.

      Finally, I’d advice commenters to attack major facts raised here in this article than attack commenters or the writer himself as I hope I have done here. One thing we must all take home is that we should not allow the tribal dissensions of our forefathers and misplaced priorities of the older generations ruin our present and future. That’s it!

  16. every Nigerian has the right to live in any part of the country in Nigeria. we are first Nigeria before any tribe or ethnic group. God Bless Nigeria.

  17. Lagos is built from the sweat of other states bc it was a federal capital territory. To now claim that Lagos belongs to Lagosians alone to the detriment of other nationalities who have lived and tolied in Lagos is to say the least reactionary and unfortunate. It is like saying that Abuja belongs to Hausa/Fulani folks and the rest can go to hell! Give a small boy a hammer and everything will be hammered!

    1. Hey, can I come to Igbo land and claim to be an indigene of the place? Which place in the Federation of Nigeria is not developed and being developed by other people’s sweat. Give us a break, nobody is claiming that Lagos belongs to the Yoruba alone, what we don’t want is for an Igbo man to become the Oba of Lagos by default. In fact we have so many Ezes in Lagos now!

  18. As far as social configuration of the Nigeria's artificiality is concerned, it is magnanimity for Lagos to have Igbo in their executive cabinet. In as much as I am against the deportation policy of Emperor Fashola, to ridicule some of the national integration moves credited to Lagos is intellectual fraud.
    Selective criticism is the bane of Nigeria public intellection, the same reason why the supposed objective critics are drawn by the torrent of peoples' sentiment.

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