Rilwan Akiolu: the Oba Who Spat on Igbos
The tribal tirade against Igbo residents in Lagos by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has been described by many well-meaning Nigerians as disgraceful. The tirade was direct: either the Igbos residents in Lagos vote Akinwumi Ambode the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate or they will catch hell. The Oba Akiolu even swore to ‘God’ that he will unleash death on the Igbos if they did not confirm his wishes. This has to be an Oba who is against the ‘Change’ slogan that swept President-Elect Muhammadu to election victory. Change!
The Oba was totally un-royal in his conduct. The Oba’s tirade highlighted what everyone knows; the teeming rivalry between the Igbos and the Yorubas. There is no love lost between the Yorubas and Igbos. We will leave it to the reader to determine which of the two ethnic groups is least likely to admit tribal hatred for the other with rationalisations and sophistry.
In his hate speech, Oba Akiolu acted as if he was doing the usually industrious Igbo residents in Lagos a favour by letting them live in the place and then control how they will vote. The Oba is unaware that Lagos is a ‘ward of chance and good fortune’. Lagosians never did anything to merit the growth of Lagos either as a capital of Nigeria or as a commercial centre. The British colonialists chose Lagos for their own interests and that was that.
Can the Oba Akiolu please tell anyone anything a Lagosian or Westerner, for that matter, did to make Lagos what it is today? Groundnut money, oil money (most of all), palm oil money (second best), cocoa money, tin money, colombite money made Lagos what it is today, whether it is the location of companies, schools, universities, federal buildings, bridges, roads, hotels, GRAs and the like. The only thing Lagos sold on a grand scale in is history was slaves. In fact, Lagosians especially their Oba should be thankful to the federal government and Great Britain for their bountiful good fortune.
Even when it comes to individual projects, I would like anyone to show the public which one of them that is not the product comprador treachery in the guise of neo-colonialism, big thieving of vast federal resources and pilfering Lagos State resources. The “Board members” that stole Lagos and Nigeria blind were an effort of General Yakubu Gowon to dismantle the power of the ‘stationary bandits’ of the three then four regions that favoured the splitting of Nigeria and inadvertently established class of ‘roving bandits’ by bequeath of shares in ‘indigenised corporations’ that included, Lagosian families, Northern emirs and Midwest families to empower the doctrine of ‘One Nigeria’. These are the people with the help of civil servants and the military that squandered the “oil boom” wealth of the 1970s and successive oil windfalls to date. What did Oba Akiolu or his predecessors do to deserve that federal government largesse?
Governor Babatunde Fashola took the unprecedented step of “deporting” Igbos back to their home states, yet his party want the remaining ones to vote them in unconditionally? Nigeria is a federal republic. The Oba should be told that anyone with Nigerian citizenship can live wherever they care and vote as they like. An Oba who does not understand the natural or constitutional provisions of citizenship should abdicate.
One cannot blame the New Atheists like the late Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins for dismissing religion as ‘crap’ when there are so many like Oba Akiolus everywhere who invoke God’s name for destruction and never construction. It would have been fantastic to see Oba Akiolu pronounce curses on those that have denied Lagos State regular electric power supplies due to rapacious corruption or use his ‘ashe’ (a spell that takes absolute effect on pronouncement and feared by many) to miraculously electrify Lagos. Or maybe he could use his ‘ashe’ to end poverty, crime, despair, human sacrifices, prostitution, homelessness and overcrowding in Lagos. So God has become a tool to be used when people are in their most ‘unrighteous element’.
A number of African scholars such as Wole Soyinka, Abduolaye Bathily, Sam Aluko and Claude Ake have espoused the idea that until the social conditions militating again a just society in Africa are rectified, the continent’s nations will remain impervious to reforms and good governance prescriptions especially as defined by western nations. Two scholars, George Ayittey and the late Abdul Rahman Tajudeen stand out in suggesting a ‘return to the ancient traditional ways of governance’ that worked exceedingly well in Africa and can be revived to end Africa’s misgovernance. This is not mere nostalgia and the propositions are highly credible.
The recent announcement by Oba Akiolu to the Igbos temporarily casts doubt about the viability of present traditional rulers in the sense of a nation-state to return Africa to traditional ways of governance. Worst still, tribalists seem to be getting bolder and more irrational as time passes in Nigeria.
Will ‘One Nigeria’ last much longer?
- Dr. Nane is an errant scholar and economist. Follow him on twitter: @Grimot