From Uzonna Ononye
There is no existing statistics of the population of Lagos that will show state of origin or ethnic background of residents. As a matter of fact, the dispute between the National Population Commission and the Lagos State Government over the figures of the 2006 census has lingered for as long as the commission is yet to conduct another exercise. NPC projected that residents of Lagos were 9,013,524 which was at variant with other sources. Lagos state government insisted that the population was 17,553,924. With this discrepancy, stating the number of Igbos that live in Lagos may not be realistic.
Haven said this; there is no doubt that a reasonable number of the population of Lagos State are from the Igbo extraction. Anyone who would want to disprove this assertion should first visit the news sites being developed in Ajah axis, Ladipo market, Coker, Satelite Town, Okoko, Ajamgbadi and even Alimosho, in fact all parts of Lagos. If we accept that each ethnic segment of the entity called Nigeria are unique and therefore has peculiar needs, one can therefore conclude that the Igbos in Lagos deserved to be catered for. The government should as a matter of importance have the Igbos in mind while formulating policies or distributing “the dividends of democracy”.
One of the huge challenges of recent Lagos has been coming to terms with the tax regime. Without delving into the argument of whether the regime is anti-people or pro-development, the Igbos, just like every other nationality that live in Lagos, have contended with the financial and psychological demands of spending more on state revenue.
Today, some citizens still evade tax but the percentage has reduced probably in direct proportion to the increase in internally generated revenue. For the past five years, the state had seen a yearly 12.15% increase in revenue whereas 67.07% of the total revenue is generated internally. Because those who undertake collection of the revenue DO NOT DISCRIMINATE, Igbos should reap the benefit of contributing in no small measure to revenue growth in the state.
As another election is approaching, there is need for strategic engagement of the establishment in order to ensure that the needs are well articulated and positioned for satisfaction.
Because this is a democratic dispensation fueled by politics, it will be difficult to eliminate partisanship.
It is clear that the Igbo nation has fully thrown its weight behind the re-election of President Jonathan. In fact, the APC which is the other contending party seems to have conceded the entire South East to President Jonathan.
I have carefully studied Lagos state politics and I am persuaded that the ongoing campaign for a Deputy Governor of Lagos State from Igbo extraction is misplaced.
We deserve recognition and reward for our contributions, yes, any political party or political office seeker who wishes this away, does so at his own peril. But I will say again that the way of a Deputy Governor is the wrong way.
No doubt having an Igbo man as a deputy governorship candidate gives any of the contending political parties a head-start moving into the election but where lies the over-riding interest of the Igbos whose such nomination is believed to cater for?
Until the Nigerian Constitution is changed, a deputy governor is a simple appendage of the office of the governor and does not serve more purpose than a Commissioner or Special Assistant. Section 193 (1) states: The Governor of a State may, in his discretion, assign to the Deputy Governor or any Commissioner of the Government of the State responsibility for any business of the Government of that State, including the administration of any department of Government. That’s all.
The Constitution also provides the condition under which the deputy governor can become governor: 191. (1) The Deputy Governor of a State shall hold the office of Governor of the State if the office of Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal of the governor from office for any other reason in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this constitution. Then again, thinking that an Igbo man can under any circumstance become the governor of Lagos State in today’s Nigeria is more an illusion than a dream.
WHAT DO WE NOT NEED?
LAW MAKERS: I will rather Igbos negotiate for at least three seats in the State House of Assembly. This is where the laws are made. This is the organ of government that can check the excesses of the executive. In the legislative arm, minorities; ethnic, religious and all, can negotiate and lobby for their interests. The legislator cannot be impeached but can be recalled. The constitution made the process more difficult than how a deputy governor.
Any political party that offers the Igbos any office that will not allow them direct involvement in the decision making should not just bother.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHAIRMEN: Three council chairmen of Igbo extraction is ideal. One must be a constitutionally recognized Local Government Area. A local government chairman is an executive of his own. Instead of becoming “an errand boy” Deputy Governor, My people should seek to run council areas particularly in those areas that are substantially occupied by Igbos. A local government chairman can decide on a road to be fixed or managed and can allocate market shops.
OTHERS: At least a commissioner, two special advisers or its equivalent and two members of boards will give the Igbo the sense of belonging that the leading political parties are mouthing.
If one can get a whole why settle for a half? Since the political parties are interested in benefiting from the numbers of Igbos in Lagos, it will be nonsensical to allow a few blow this opportunity due to lack of understanding. Any political party that is interested in the deal, please come with a total package.