Femi Fani-Kayode: Lagos, the Igbo and the servants of truth

by Femi Fani-Kayode


The Igbo had little to do with the extraordinary development of Lagos between 1880 right up until today. That is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer Village, Alaba and buying up numerous market stalls in Isale Eko, where is their input?

“The claim that the Igbo helped to develop Lagos is hogwash. The major institutions of the south-west were developed by the diligence, hard-work, industry and sweat of the Yoruba people. This is a historical fact”- Femi Fani-Kayode

I posted these words on my Facebook wall as a fallout of the hot debate that was generated after the relocation from Lagos to Anambra of 19 Igbo destitute by the Lagos State Government. Immediately after the posting, all hell broke loose on my wall and all sorts of excitable and emotion-laden comments and assertions were made on the thread. I welcomed each and every one of those comments including those that accused me of being a tribalist and a Yoruba nationalist. That is the spirit of debate and we cannot all possibly agree on everything. Needless to say I stand by every word that I wrote in the post and those that do not share my view are free to hold their own opinion. My assertion is based on history and knowledge and not emotion. The facts are clear and the records speak for themselves. I will go no further than that because it is about time that Nigerians from the younger generation learnt to do their own research and to study their own history. I will not allow the mob mentality or the wild emotions of others to becloud my thinking or to intimidate me into distorting the truth.

The Igbo had little to do with the extraordinary development of Lagos between 1880 right up until today. That is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer Town, Alaba and buying up numerous market stalls in Isale Eko, where is their input? Meanwhile the Yoruba of the old Western Region and Lagos were very gracious to them and not only allowed them to return after the civil war to claim their properties and jobs but also welcomed them with open arms and allowed them to flourish in our land. This is something that they have never done for our people in the east. Such gestures of love and fraternity were never reciprocated. Now some of them have the effrontery to call Lagos, which is our land and the land of our forefathers (I am half Lagosian), ”no-man’s land” and others have the nerve to assert that up to 50 per cent of the development in Lagos came as a consequence of the input of the Igbo. This is utter rubbish.

Those that do not know any better ought to go and learn rather than vent their hostilities and ignorance against me here or on my Facebook wall. I am not a tribalist but a great believer in Nigeria and more importantly, I am a historian and a student of history. I will not distort the facts of history just to keep some people happy. The history of the Yoruba, and of Lagos particularly, is very well known to me.  And the fact that Lagosians and the Yoruba people generally are so generous and accommodating in their ways and to non-indigenes that settle in their territory should not be mistaken for ignorance, stupidity or weakness. We know our history, we know who we are, we know who and what developed our land and made it into what it is and we urge those that yearn to be like us to go and emulate our efforts and attitude to non-indigenes and hard work in their own states of origin.

I have nothing against my fellow Nigerians from other parts of the country and I have proved over and over again that I love Nigeria and that I am a Nigerian before anything else. However if, in the twisted imagination of some, speaking the truth about the history and development of Lagos and the Western Region makes me a tribalist, then tribalist I am. Servants of truth do not fear such labels and are often hated and misunderstood. If I were worried about what others thought of me I would have stopped writing long ago.

Meanwhile, permit me to recommend to all and sundry the following words of an insightful Nigerian by name Sina Fagbenro-Byron. He has had the courage to analyse the matter in a very honest, clear and forthright manner and he has spoken the truth. Let us hope that those that have no knowledge of that truth are humble enough to learn from it. He wrote-

”It has become a recent habit by a number of our young Igbo brethren to refer to Lagos as a ‘no-man’s land. The great Zik, Mbadiwe, Mbonu Ojike, Ajuluchukwu, Opara etc would never have made such statements as they knew better. It is not only unfair but in extremely bad taste apart from the fact that it is historically false. How can you call a land that has had over 400 years of traditional rulership and cultural definition as a no man’s land? It shows contempt for the indigenes, ingratitude of hospitality and a betrayal of ones host. The late Herbert Macauley( a Yoruba Lagosian) on his dying bed endorsed Zik as successor leader of the NCNC because of his nationalism, intellectual sagacity and it was endorsed by a group of Yoruba elders and not by any Igbo population who in any case were infinitesimal at the time. Chinua Achebe records in his book, and we can roughly confirm that there were not more than a few thousand Igbos in Lagos before the civil war. So after having been received, accommodated by their host, the  Yorubas, since the 1940s, a generation that is ignorant of history and careless of historical relationship refer to Lagos as no mans land, this attitude is the cause of the perennial Jos crisis amongst others. When the military stopped the teaching of history in schools in the 1980s, we knew that by allowing them, we courted confusion, but it was deliberate. Up till1968 , Mushin, Apapa, Ikeja, were all part of the Western Region.

The English treaty was with the Oba of Eko Ile,(Lagos). Lagos traditional families all are Yoruba and the founder of Eko was Ogunfunminire who migrated from Ife before the 16th century. Lagos traditional Obaship was confirmed on behalf of the Oduduwa dynasty. If we consider it unfair to call Igbo property ‘abandoned property’ after the civil war, why should they refer to another mans backyard as no man’s land. Lagos had been the commercial nerve centre of West Africa before Nigeria was created and this was attributable to the welcoming attitude of coastal Yorubas, which was first betrayed by the Portuguese who introduced slave trade, the Kiriji war and the 100-year Yoruba civil war of 1769-1869 also saw a huge population from the other Yoruba Hinterland moving to Lagos to procure salt, guns, seek out their freed slave brethren etc and these led to the growth of Lagos.

Since independence and after the civil war, other Nigerians have made Lagos a home for themselves , but none have been so unkind as to call Lagos a no man’s land. Igbos who say this and claim credit for the development of Lagos should remember that the first Industrial Estate in Nigeria was built by Awolowo in Ikeja as Premier of the West and the Western house on Broad street has significant historical importance. I would urge my Igbo brethren not to make true the words of Sardauna when he described the Igbos as having a tendency to come in as visitors and seek to claim ownership to the exclusion of indigenes. If Onitsha or Abakaliki is not no man’s land, why should Lagos be. Imagine how our Niger Delta brethren will feel if we refer to their space on God’s earth as no man’s Land?”

Fagbemi-Byron has hit the nail on the head and I wholeheartedly commend him for his courage. Frankly I could not have put it better myself. How I wish that more of those that are in the younger generation today would indulge in the type of research and scholarship that this man has obviously done. He, and those that value truth and knowledge like him, are the true Nigerians and thankfully I believe that there are many like him in every tribe and nationality in this great country. May God grant them the courage to speak out and cure the ignorant of their ignorance. God bless Nigeria.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (25)

  1. Femi Fani Kayode: who is he?

    Femi Fani Kayode simply gave a brief summary of the person he is. He was was a minister for transportation and later on was in some corrupt charges. A money launder, corrupt, arrogant, he is an egoist.

    The former Minister who was first arraigned before Justice Ramat Mohammed of the same court on December 23, 2008, was re-arraigned before a new judge.

    The former minister is accused of laundering various sums of money totaling N230 million through some of his aides, his wife, Regina Fani-Kayode and daughter, Remilekun between August 2006 and March 2007.

    I made bold to say he is an ex-drug addict. He walks all the way from Apapa to Ikoyi while still on drug. This is a statement of fact, it has being published in the Papers and he has never denied it. That is why his ambition, even with the support his father (FANI POWER) of becoming Osun GUV. candidate of NRC (Babagida Era) failed.

    Its not hearsay. The guy is an ex drug addict. He himself have said more on the topic. He is just an Ashewo that went to husband house sooner than later she will come back to her trade. Yeye person all because of almighty Naira and Dollar he starts speaking from both side of mouth. He has even denouce that he is from Ile Ife where is father comes from. He now says he is from Lagos.

    Femi was a PDP aspirant for Osun Gubernatorial contest. In fact he was one of the main contestsnts threathning to decamp to the former ACN and now APC if PDP imposed that the man he termed 'illiterate prisoner-turned-lawmaker' Omisore. I also remember him for being very saucy, free with uncouthed choices of words and arrogant but he doesn't look like someone without a cultured background. He is articulate, no doubt about that, afterall IBB is also intelligent but we all hate him.

    You can determine his abusive character and mannerless disposition to any issue involving General OBJ Govt. He has abused everybody that differs from the thinking of OBJ Govt.: Afenifere, Arewa, OPC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Atiku, Ohaneze, Buhari, Gowon just them e.t.c. He even wrote a stinger to OBJ before he was invited to come and chop in Aso Rock. In fact no one should take him serious.


    “An ethno- chauvinist fellow sees red and call it white because ethnocentrism kills reasoning and humanism in them”-ifade Segun

    I can’t just keep quiet on this APC deportation in Lagos. I have surf the net and every reasons I saw, I read it critically. The one given by Femi Fani-Kayode, Ogie and others to justify this irrational action of Fashola. To my surprise all were coloured with sentiment, emotions, tribalism and above all undemocratic without any iota of logic and analyzes of it from the duo point of Nigeria constitution and essence of tribal unity in our diversity. Using history to justify this is the most baseless one as FFK put forward, he went to the extent of telling the younger generation to study history more, that ignorance of history is responsible for this hullabaloo and critics of this deportation.

    For me and many other ordinary nigerians, history is good and good is to be a lover of history. But of what essence is the FFK history that Lagos is yoruba land as if we don’t know before and that lagosians and yorubas were good host to the Igbos especially after their return from civil war? If some Igbos are saying Lagos is no-mans-land, does that change the known fact that Lagos is own by certain tribe and ethnic? Does this history justify this action? If the deportation is based on this, then are the 14 or 19 or whatsoever numbers of deported igbos are they the only igbos in Lagos, what about those that works in the government? What about those that own mansions and companies in Lagos, what is Jim Ovia still doing in Lagos? What about the Hausas, have they neutralize to become lagosians with ‘Lagos passport’? Are those deported were the only one saying Lagos is no mans land? And if on the reason of deportation for them to go and contribute to their igbo land, are those petty traders are the right target for significant contribution and development of their igbo states? Isn’t ought to start from deporting the mighty ones that are igbos whose investment in their state will be significant as they have the capital needed for real investment???

    Deportation, deportation, from one state to the other within one country without committing any crime. It was only before now, that internal deportation occurred and it was done to the indefatigable, Gani Fawehinmi by the military government to prevent him from being able to reach out to the masses to champion their cause. Now, deportation for being poor? This is scandalous. Some people needs to bury their face, I believe they ought to be ashamed. The sage, Obafemi Awolowo will never do such, no matter what, FFK late father, Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode will never stood so low to support or offer any intellectual argument from historical perspective to justify this rubbish. I guess he would have double think before moving the motion for Nigeria independence in 1958 successfully, if he knew that some day his son will attempt to destroy that ” Nigerianism”. I wish FFK can tell us from his knowledge, wisdom and history, how the deportation will make Lagos better and Nigeria more unified and from his profession as a lawyer, the perspective of law of Nigerian constitution on this. Indeed, we are in great trouble, a mess of olympian level. This is not deportation based on ethnic, rather on economic status. God save the poor!

    Ifade OLUSEGUN
    [email protected]

  3. Can we please drop this case and see ourselves as Nigerian.Let’s aim at a common goal and Nigeria shall soar on the wings of an eagle…2015,please vote for a credible personality regardless of his or her background …

    1. Let’s stop this argument. The sites sholud be used more to unite us than to divide us. Let’s put at the back of our mind that America predicts breaking_up of nigeria. Please dont let us move that way. Our common enemy is Mr Corruption by our leaders. While we fight over issues, they eat and drink over it and share the booty. Let’s be wise. Let’s all behave well as we all have different tribes as friends and confidants which we can die for. Please

      1. Kazeem, God bless you,well said!. But advise Mr Femi fani kayode to stop thinking through his Anus, and learn from other good Nigerians.Because with this, he will be a failure.

  4. @ronke you’re just a biatch who punches her parents to wake them up. As for dat ajegunjerun called femi fani kayode , you’re a no good tribalist who is so small brained . Igbos make a living frm their independence. Have you seen an igbo man beg for food frm u pple . A lot of yorubas live in d east and even married there but u pple always make it look like we’re the only once living else where. As side igbos foreigners live here too and contribute. For you to say yorubas made lagos rich , shows dat you’re so myopic . No wonder during ur reign as minister of aviation , we had lots of plane crashes cos you lack sense .

    1. yes I quite agree wt u. instead of an average IBO man 2 beg 4 alms e wd rada luk 4a gun nd rob. IBO ppl can Neva b begas lik d hausas instead,dey r robas. y cnt dey develop dia own land if dey’r dat gifted @ developin ? mtchw!… opportunists.

  5. Segun Adefila My brother Segun, my respect for you will never die. You are a true soul to be celebrated…I will never be a tribalist and the day I become one I will be dead….I just hate tribalists/racists with passion. I mean with deepest passion.

  6. @Damola, I wish you are the president so that you can in your rage put the Ibos in a concentration camp and wipe them out.

  7. I don’t know why we are paying attention to this failure, Femi Fani Kayode……He failed as a minister and spokes man and now he’s seeking attention….Next thing, he will be vying for a political post

  8. Well said by Seun, but in response to Femi-Fani Kayode and his supporters, Lagos wouldn’t b 1/10th of what it is if not for Nigeria’s money(oil money) that was used to develop it by virtue of the fact that it was the Nation’s capital. I dare say, Lagos would have been mostly water.

    A question for Fani Kayode: if Awolowo and co developed Lagos what happened to the other Yoruba states? U just have to look at other western States to realize the Yorubas didn’t develop Lagos

  9. Igbo this, igbo that. The igbos were not allowed to flourish in Lagos, the Igbos flourish everywhere and if Mr Femi is a true historian, then I think He should rethink what Lord Lugard said about the people from the western part of Nigeria in 1914. Mr Femi should stop making noise, He has nothing to talk about and has just proven how myopic and confused He can be.You are not a true Nigerian.

  10. no comment…. those who left their father's land to develop another mans land should face the music.

  11. well said @segun, though one would wonder why this issue, which is slowly dying down, would be raised again on this site. This matter has been debated exhausively on all major websites, blogs and forums and allowed to rest. What do u plan on achieving @ynaija, along with Mr. Femi? Cheap publicity Or una just dey wake up? Lol…let it rest already if you’re not a bigot as you claim..

  12. well said @segun, though one would wonder why this issue, which is slowly dying down, would be raised again on this site. This matter has been debated exhausively on all major websites, blogs and forums and allowed to rest. What do u plan on achieving @ynaija, along with Mr. Femi? Cheap publicity Or una just dey wake up? Lol…let it rest already if you’re not a bigot as you claim.

  13. @Segun Adefila:It's your type that still make me not to give up on Nigeria.We need more people with the same mindset as yours in this country.You've really made my day.Thanks so much and keep up the good spirit!Life is just too short to be lived in hatred.


  15. There we go! Just as in the past! The so called new generation are on their way to join the opportunists that call themselves nationalists. If GOD wants just one tribe, there would be no other tribes. When are we going to learn that the basic things we share as humans have no tribe or tongues? In what language do we laugh or cry? What is the language of hunger and thirst? If the essence of existence is about tribes alone where would we all be? We quickly forget the 'mallam' who helped us in the past, we hastily discard the ibo neighbour who has been more helpful than most relatives, the 'ngbati' or yoruba friend who would go through thick and thin with us. All because of extreme generalisation. The igbos,Yorubas and Hausas 'at the top' break bread at grand banquets. Some share loots like they are the same roots yet scream 'my people are better' when such obscenity serves their selfish purpose. The man at the bottom rung of the social ladder bears the brunt. Are we saying that breaking up is the solution to our myraid of problems? What about those yoruba neigbours who still hack eachother down at the slightest provocation? What have you to say about Hausa kinsmen who will readily slaughter one another over a parcel of land and are the Igbos so united? Nigeria (though fraudulently put together for selfish reasons) can still rise above petty tribal mongering and attain her height if this new generation will be more progressive in their thinking and more considerate about posterity in their action lest we leave a perennial legacy of ethnic rivalry while others make progress. Where we are today is not where we would be had we retained our moral and cultural values. May my true friends from the East, the North and the South not lose their souls in a country driven almost souless by tribal conflict-mongering cabals. If you have had siblings from other mothers hold you when your blood relatives let you down,think twice before your proclamations. You are my brother till you get worried not by my character but by my language or religion!

  16. ronke,you being cultured has nothing to do with what is been discussed,when you talk about having respect i laugh bcos respect is a choice,as an ibo man i respect my parents and elders.You stayed in aba and you judge the whole tribe with aba,pls i advice you go round the east well and witness other ibos.Let me remind you that Bola ige was humiliated by a known senator from osun state,if you guys so respect ur elders,how did that happen? femi is always arguing issues that are irrelevant,he thinks his a historian,always looking for way to be relevant,after serving as a minister,he was booted out.The thing is that we ibos are ready to endure,nomatter what ACN or PDP does all of them needs our voteto win any election in Lagos.I dare any of you to go to election in 2015 in lagos without ibo votes and lets see howfar that party can go.

  17. Cornel, knowing what many Nigerians know about Igbos today, the country would gladly oblige your separatist agenda in a jiffy. I dare say the Yorubas will be. Relieved to see you go. Nigeria Is no longer the country of Zik, Awolowo, or Bello.


  19. Should Kayode be reminded that his little history book says that Kano is more populated than Lagos, how true is that? Or does he need to be reminded that Lagos state played the role of FCT in Nigeria just like Abuja today? Did Fashola call for your help? Why do u. Put urself in the middle of history that u and will never make,cos those who make history don’t write or argue like u,they write and fight like Madeba and win like Mandela. U sound like one who loves Nigeria indeed,but does not love Nigerians cos it’s easy to love Nigeria than to love Nigerians. And with the way u sound, I wonder where ur love is coming from. This great nation has made us all, the money and people who built Lagos are niether Yorubas,Hausas or Igbos but are Nigerians. So Mr Femi Fani Kayode the historian,next time in ur history class,be attentive so that u learn well from ur teachers.

    1. Nnanta, u have said it all. Teach d historian minister how 2 be a true “Historian”. All FCTs are undisputedly “No Mans Land” Hohaa… If my state is chosen 2 become an FCT, I personally will declare it a no mans land and dats just the reality.

  20. Yorubas are educated and cultured.we dnt wake our parents with kicking

  21. Good talk.i used to stay in aba in abia state.to say the igbos are hostile to visitors is an understatement. They are agressive and cheat visitor.i had to learn their language but yet the hostility remains. No need to trade words with them. They are too crude.

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