Opinion: Still on the Lagos ‘deportation’ – On the side of common sense

by Theophilus Ilevbare


But news has it that Anambra, and indeed governor Peter Obi were duly informed and carried along in the reintegration. They failed to come forward to claim them.  If Lagos state is not the first state to send back destituste to their indigent states then it isn’t worth the argument.

In the days that has ensued since the ‘deportation’ of some 72 persons of whom 14 were of Igbo extraction, I have watched the debate snowball into a convoluted ethnic … and rather … twist as some have even suggested a progom, presenting an opportunity for ethnic jingoist to jump on the band wagon.

On the basis of morality, which should outweigh any other argument, Fashola got it all wrong. Any form of governance without a human face is undemocratic and tyrannic. The so-called destitute were brought to that level of privation by the sleaze in the system and unmitigable frittering of our commonwealth. Why the already pauperized Nigerians have to always bear the brunt of hash government policies both at states and federal level has ensure that democracy dividend has continued to elude the Nigerian people. The conflicting figures Lagos and Anambra quoted does not justify the callous and insensitive ‘deportation’ of Lagos state government even if one person was bounded back home. It didn’t matter if they were 72, 14 or 1.

The All Progressives Congress says the “sensationalisation” of the recent “home return” of 14 persons from Lagos State by Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State can threaten the nation’s unity.

Newspaper report had it that twice in 2011, Governor Peter Obi, same governor weeping up tribal sentiments, or playing the ethnic cards, deported destitute to mostly Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states, see link here.  But one wondered why so much was not heard about Anambra’s deportation saga where destitutes mostly from Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom were repatriated, giving credence to musings that the hullabaloo about the deportation was politically motivated to turn the minds of voters against the APC in the run up to the Anambra 2014 gubernatorial elections. Abia state government retrenched non-Abians from its civil service. Same cold response from Ndigbo. If the affected states protested these repatriations and retrenchment, probably there wouldn’t have been a Lagos deportation today. Peter Obi or his government, has neither denied or debunked the report as false. ####To make a mountain out of a mole hill with the Lagos reintegration process is rather preposterous. Peter Obi’s action smacks of political desperation and Machiavellianism.

The earlier the Igbos jettisoned this “victim mentality” the better because they are a strong people with astute enterpreneural skills and should be wise enough to look at issues from a detribalise standpoint. If Fashola deported people to Oyo state and other states why should this be looked at from a different perspective.

####It is on record that three states were involved, and to ensure respect for the dignity of the human person, Lagos State Government notified the government of each affected state at least 90 days ahead and if the notice was given to Katsina State, they complied by providing transport for their indigenes. Whoever tried to forment trouble where none existed clearly failed. That Anambra State Government never replied Lagos’ request either in writing or by practically effecting the removal of their destitute citizens before the 90 days notice elapsed should have tipped off Fashola and the relevant Lagos agencies.

We should look at the bigger picture instead. The string of deportations is not good for any ethnic group, it makes a mockery of the rights to move, associate and live freely in any part of the country as enshrined in our constitution. Moreover, it calls for some questioning if a citizen should be deported if he hasn’t been accused of any crime or constituted himself to a threat to the existence of others. If then their crime is being poor, destitute, mentally deranged, then the government owe them a duty to take care of them since they found themselves in these states. It was due to no fault of theres. Isn’t it the hash economic climate that led to their privations? Or since when did it become a crime to be destitute? Every society has its own fair share of vulnerable people. These are vulnerable compatriots who are obiquitous in every society the world over.  Why they probably not seen on the streets is because those governments have done the right thing – taking and off the streets, giving them social security and restoring every benefits, giving them the support the government can possibly give. So wherever state one finds life is home and as Gov Obi rightly noted, naturally, state governors have the obligation to protect the interest and welfare of all Nigerians resident in their State, irrespective of their states of origin.

It is unbecoming to think that the Igbo businesses and people are being unfairly targeted in what could be the beginning of a pogrom.

I’m a staunch advocate of the abolition of indigeneship from the constitution if truly every citizen wants to traverse the length and breadth of the country before eventually settling without any fear of a hash tribalistic climate, and an ever lurking propensity to… An Igbo man be able catered for in Lagos if he has stayed upto a particular number of years to be determined by the constitution. Other states have already started deporting non-indigent destitute. More will follow in the months to come, the more reason why the status quo. Am a proponent of an amendment to the constitution as it affects state of origin as issues like this, exposes the soft underbelly and frugality of the unitary state that Nigeria is suppose to be while it affirms the dominance of ethnicity. ##One’s place of birth, that is, wherever you are born, should logically become his state of origin as it is in the Western world. Migration to other locations such as countries, states, villages etc but one’s certificate still reflects his place of birth. On the whole, this wave of deportation is despicable and must be condemned in strongest terms by everyone but not to throw it overboard, politicise it, weeping up ethnic sentiments unduly like Anambra state has done.


Some legal practitioner have condemned Fashola’s reintegration procedure from a legal perspective and Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has made it clear earlier, that no part of the constitution in itself, is not absolute in… Am a student of this school of thought.

It is a question and debate of morality rather than constitution, tribal or any such sentiments that are being weep up around the country. It is  ethically indefensible that the less priviledged ones, due to no fault of theirs, have become unwanted elements held in detention centres and packed in a bus like sardines for dumping outside the boundaries of their state of destitution. If all states of the federation begin to deport compatriots under one guise or the other then we have a problem, probably, another war looming.

But is it not the responsibility of the society, here, state government to provide for the weak and vulnerable amongst us? Any government that fails to… It is morally wrong for any government to embark on a rather sinister indigene/settler policy most times is targeted at the poor. Homeless, drug addict, and other vulnerable people in the society. Attempts at Urban renewal #cynical, seems there’s no place for the poor. Government must reverse this line of thinking.

But then this particular incident should be a watershed for Ndigbo and their leaders. South-East governors can do well by developing their states. Nothing stops them from developing their own states too even if they have to eventually migrate and settle else where. If Onitsha were not as dingy and tardy as it is, those destitutes wouldn’t have been dumped there. This is a time for some soul searching and introspection for Igbo political leaders, who have failed to deliver democracy dividends in their states. From Abia to Ebonyi, Anambra to … the story is the same: roads are death traps riddled with potholes, social amenities are decaying and physical infrastructure frebile.  The south east governors should pick this up as a challenge, to spur them to do more for their states, that indigenes what have to relive for places like Lagos where on leaving home think it is Eldarodo, on arrival that are hit with the hash reality. Lagos remains the most open place to do business, everyone is given equal opportunity to succeed without recourse to state of origin or what. Such an atmosphere where employee=-employer relationship thrives. In sharp contrast. Abia state not long ago sacked non-indigene Igbos from the state from its workforce claiming it was in retaiiation for what Abians were suffering in other states in igboland. By implication, other states in the South-East only employ or recruit the services of those from their states only. Does it not amount to hypocrisy to cry fowl over this?

Lagos is the most open place to do business, there is a level playing ground for everybody, at least when compare to most states in the South East. Lagos has turned out to be a melting point of sort where people of all walks of life, religion and tribe migrate every year in droves, with the hope of living the ‘Nigerian dream”

A government must cater for the less priviledged people in the society. They must always bear the brunt of government hash policies, like the ‘Okada’ ban

For many years, destitute and beggars popularly known as ‘almajiri’ have been deported from other states of the federation. The FCT, Abuja, has had its own share of deportation too in the past. Elrufai…

Next year, 2014 is election in Anambra, it is not difficult to see why a routine exercise, even by Anambra’s state hypocritical stance, Obi having deported non-indigenes in times past.. did it then it is habit, Ngige’s letter buttresses the point that it was aimed at disparaging  and mudsling the  APC before the elections. It is easy to weep up sentiments and mislead the Nigerian public, preponderantly unenlightened. Else the moment the facts where dug out that Peter Obi also deported non-Anambrarians, the controversy would have died there! He has no moral standing or justification whatsoever to remove the tiny in someone’s eyes, ignoring the mole in his own.

But news has it that Anambra, and indeed governor Peter Obi were duly informed and carried along in the reintegration. They failed to come forward to claim them.  If Lagos state is not the first state to send back destituste to their indigent states then it isn’t worth the argument.

There was no basis for deporting them, the home state were they are should cater for them like what the FCT did with the almajiris… elrufai

The likes of Fashola should toe this line of reason, what if other states, in a flurry, begin to deport destitutes to other states? Sooner rather than later, we’ll have a situation on our hands that we cannot contain.

The Lagos state government cannot be faulted on this, that for the purpose of reintegration with their kith and kin back home, and continous social support and care, the Lagos state government notified Anambra as well as other state governments to come and take over their people

Lagos state had options of more humane and decent ways their rehabilitation would have been handled. They would have taken them any of the various rehabilitation centres with the help of relevant ministries, and not treating them like aliens in their fatherland.

It is egregious that the victims were held in some concentration camps prior to their expulsion according to the account by some of them. If the picture portrayed by the Lagos state government that they left the state willing is to be contemplated, then the deportees as it were, should have been sent packing in broad day light with a more humane means of transportation.

But then we might want to pander to this line of reasoning that there are many people today in various states who really have no business there, they’d have faired better, and rehabilitated in they live among their kinsmen. Take for example, Akwa Ibom offers free education upto secondary school level, an indigene of that state within that age bracket can enjoy free education in his state of origin rather than roaming the streets in Lagos or elsewhere. Lets not be worked up about it.

It stands to reason that the state government should have sought to clarify issues with the Lagos state government before hitting the alarm in public or reporting to president Jonathan (Not to make mention of Peter Obi reporting Fashola to Jonathan)

But after all said about previous deportations like this, even if it had taken place and no one talked about it, it doesn’t make it right? It would have made more sense if these deportees where handed over to some government agencies. Whatever Lagos state intentions were the implementation of this exercise fell short of expectations. People with health challenges and apparently no where to lay their heads should not be dumped in the wee hours of the night at Onitsha.

Alternatively, the federal government should have structures on ground in every state to carter for the destitute, like a kind of social security in advance countries. The FG should do the clean up and not the state, otherwise, people will bring tribalism into this.

Governor Fashola can learn a thing or two about beggar deportations and rehabilitation using the FCT model former minister of FCT, Mallam Nasir Elrufai employed during his time as revealed explicitly in his book, The Accidental Public Servant

We studied several reports of previous ‘beggar deportations’ and rehabilitation. We made public our intentions, and then designed a destitution management programme with three components – rehabilitation, empowerment and enforcement. We gave all beggars the opportunity to attend the vocational training in Bwari free of charge, with free feeding and lodging for the duration of the training, and paid them a monthly stipend. On completion of training in various trades, the FCTA gave the graduates tools and equipment, and some seed capital to start their small businesses. The programme trained hundreds this way. Those that rejected our offer were arrested and fined until they stopped showing up to beg. The others were repatriated to their states of choice if neither option was acceptable to them. Those affected by leprosy had a special settlement built for them at Yangoji in Kwali Area Council, complete with school, clinic and other essential facilities. Within nine months, there were no beggars on Abuja streets.

This incident is one that will surely leave a bitter pill in the mouths of the Igbos and governors in the South-East, it should serve as a wake up call for the likes of Peter Obi to raise up the ante in governance and develop their states so they indigenes won’t have need to destitute in Fashola’s well governed states.



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

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