Residential segregation by ethnicity has become a common trend with Lagos Landlords, especially if the tenant is from the eastern part of Nigeria. In this article we analyse the circumstances that has led to this seeming bias.
In Nigeria, having enough money to pay for the type of apartment you wish to rent for a period of time isn’t enough to secure you a decent rented apartment. So many other factors are considered such as age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, status, and so on. We will be turning our searchlights to the issue of housing discrimination based on ethnicity
The fact that some landlords, especially those of the Oduduwa lineage do not accept Igbos into their residential rental property cannot be attributed to one reason. In fact it looks like, a complex set of causes contribute to this observed bias in tenancy.
Housing discrimination based on ethnicity has always been an important contributor to segregation and brings to the fore the division along ethnic lines within the country. However, should such discrimination be condoned? Why is there so much bias towards the Igbo race when it comes to renting apartments within the Lagos metropolis? It might be rather difficult to quantify the extent of housing discrimination as regards ethnicity, albeit it will be foolhardy to pretend it doesn’t exist.
With a population of over 21 million people, Lagos has become home to all. The population of Igbos in the city of excellence even threatens the population of the original inhabitants of Lagos, and that is why the former could come out in broad daylight to announce to all and sundry that Lagos had become “No Man’s Land“. Could the discrimination have risen from the pomposity the average Igbo man exudes?
Lagos is unarguably Nigeria’s most ethnically diverse city and therefore discrimination based on ethnicity should be frowned at with all vigour. Some landlords don’t even mince words when admitting tenants into their property, they would explicitly tell a prospective Igbo tenant that they don’t want neither him or his kinsmen in their property because according to them, their wahala is too much.
Hence, asides the pomposity some persons think the average Igbo man exudes, another school of thought suggests it is basically because they are trouble shooters? But are we sure this is not just about sentiments? Don’t the Yorubas have the tendency of constituting nuisances too? What about the Warri people, no be them find trouble pass? Oh, I forgot, some landlords in Lagos don’t even know the difference. As long as you don’t bear a Yoruba name then automatically you are Igbo.
An Urhobo man once challenged his Landlord for insinuating he was Igbo, and so could not admit him into his residential rental property. Even when he tried to correct the notion that he is an Urhobo man from Delta state and not an Igbo man, the man still asked; Ogbeni, what’s the difference? Delta and Igbo all no be Biafra ni?
Ignorance you would say? For a typical Yoruba Landlord, as long as you are not a descendant of Oduduwa, then you are either an Igbo man or an Hausa man, shekina!
In view of the aforementioned scenario, it is no longer hearsay nor is it a hidden fact that some Lagos Landlords simply do not admit Igbos into their property due to ugly experiences they’ve had with them in the past and other reasons best known to the erring Landlords. But does that absolve the landlords of guilt?
Some Landlords would rather admit a Cameroonian, Ghanaian, Indian, Chinese and even a Syrian into their property than admit an Igbo man, it’s that bad. And I ask, is there more to this than meets the eye?
The situation has become so critical that some agents would tell their Igbo client to use a pseudo name which has to be Yoruba and subsequently go on to adopt a fake state of origin that has to be Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Kwara and even Lagos state when interacting with the Landlord of the property they wish to rent. Even within the listed south-western states there is discrimination if you are from a state that the landlord feels has the tendency of making trouble. Yes! It’s that bad. So would you deny your heritage just to rent an apartment?
Before I moved into my present apartment, the Landlady was a bit alarmed when I told her I’m from Ondo state, simply because it is believed that Ondo people can be stubborn and strong-headed. You can imagine! That not withstanding, the fact that I am Yoruba regardless of the fallacy associated with my state of origin meant I was still safe. I don’t think that would have happened if I was Igbo.
Bottom line: No matter the ugly experiences Lagos Landlords have had with tenants from other tribes, have they been the best of landlords? This is not just about the tenants from other tribes at the receiving end, the Landlords who think the average Igbo tenant is a trouble shooter, too pompous or owes rent for years without any iota of remorse should also search inwards to see what they are doing wrongly that seem to bring out such traits from tenants of Igbo extraction. If afterwards all fingers still point to the Igbo tenant, then all I can say is; water don pass garri.
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