Open letter to Buhari on behalf of Lagos State indigenes

By Dele Sobowale
“We wish to plead our own case; for too long others have been speaking for us.” Black Civil Rights leaders in the USA in the early 1930s.
Mr President, permit me,  even so late in the year, to congratulate you on your election as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially when that historic victory was premised on the promise of change. Granted the contents of the “Change Programme” were not fully spelt out, but, given the emphasis so far placed on eradicating corruption, it is fair to assume that it would also encompass “justice for all”.
On that assumption, I place before you and all Nigerians a plea by authentic Lagos State indigenes a demand for equity and fairness as you now prepare to make significant appointments to run the affairs of the Federal Government and Nigeria.
In many ways, your decision to wait until September to appoint Ministers had given us this opportunity to present the case of Lagos State indigenes for a Fair Deal. Kindly permit me to..
also state that we are not going to rest on pleading alone; we intend to struggle to ensure that justice is done to ALL Nigerians in general and Lagos State indigenes in particular. Our group has noticed that silence has proved not to be golden; it has indeed been construed as idiocy by those who have been cheating us. So, we will no longer remain silent; irrespective of the consequences.
Sir, since Alhaji Lateef Jakande left office as Governor of Lagos State in December of 1983, Lagos State has been the only state in the Federation whose top officials have been overwhelmingly non-indigenes. Apparently, anybody can come from Abia to Zamfara, and with the right connections get appointed to high office in Lagos State. But, go to any state from Abia to Zamfara and no single indigene of Lagos State occupies any position. Where is the reciprocity? And, is it fair to us?  You would have thought that our “brothers” in the South West, Kwara and Kogi would be fairer to us. You would be wrong. They only remember that “we are all Yorubas” when they need our votes and especially appointments (read money) from Lagos State. A personal example will illustrate how “our brothers” treat us.
Jobs had been offered to me in Eket, Port Harcourt, Kano, Yola and Sokoto by non-Yoruba people. The only time I was discriminated against for being a Lagos State indigene was when I applied for a job as General Manager in one of the divisions of Odu’a Investment. The interview went very well and I was selected out of about twenty applicants. Then came the time for negotiations and it was then that someone on the interview panel asked me where in Ogun State I came from because the position had been zoned to Ogun. You could have heard a pin drop when I said “I am from Lagos State; from Epe Local Government.” I was asked to step aside for a minute. When called back, the Chairman of the panel told me in words that I will remember for more than a thousand years. “Odu’a Investment cannot employ a Lagos State indigene because Lagos is not a part of Odu’a.” The most galling thing about that announcement was the fact that Odu’a Investment made over sixty (60) per cent of its revenue from Lagos State!!! What sort of “brothers” are these? Even today, I challenge any Governor of any of the South West States to list the Lagos State indigenes who are Commissioners or Special Advisers. So, if our own brothers can be so unfair to us, I have no grudges against the Northern, South East and South South Governors for not even acknowledging our existence. When your “brothers” treat you shabbily, they have invited others to do worse to you. A recent example will prove the point.
Shortly after the elections, one ethnic group among over 200 tribes in Nigeria, wrote to Governor Akin Ambode demanding for appointments in Lagos State for their people as of right. That same ethnic group is represented all over Nigeria. Their members in Zamfara, Borno, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom and Kwara (to mention a few states) wrote no such letter to the Governors of those states. Furthermore, no indigenes of other states would dare write such a letter to the Governor of their host states in the same zone. Certainly, the authors of this insulting request would consider lunacy if Lagos State indigenes living in their own states were to demand to be appointed Commissioners or Special Advisers. Obviously, what people would not condone in their own states they expect Lagos State indigenes to accept with gratitude. Well, I have news for them, it won’t happen any more. Enough is enough.
Let me close this first part of the series by anticipating those who will take umbrage at this article, as well as those who think it is a waste of time. It was on these pages in December 2011 that the demand for a Christian Governor started. At the time, it had come to our attention that the list of Fashola’s possible successors had no single Christian on it. After four years and three months of Jakande (A Muslim-Muslim ticket); eight years of Tinubu and another eight years of Fashola, it was unacceptable to us that another Muslim should follow. When the campaign for Christian Governor 2015 started here, I received threats, insults as well as a call from a Muslim brother who said “it will never happen”. I asked him to call back after the 2015 elections. He has not called back. Anybody who thinks this is a joke will not die, but live to lick his wounds. For God’s sake, whatever happened to indigenes rights to equal treatment? Enough is enough….