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Who truly owns Lagos?

Every man has a history so does a place. There has been various claims by some notable tribes as to who really owns Lagos, prominent amongst them are the Igbos who are the biggest investors in the largest city in sub-saharan Africa just like they are in the FCT. That would have been the same story in Calabar, Port Harcourt and Kaduna if they were made federal capital territories at some point in history.

However, is it possible that a place will exist without full knowledge of its original settlers even if some tribes seem to be overwhelmed by an avalanche of selective amnesia? That a place gives you leverage to explore and possibly exploit its resources to the point that you even become more prosperous than the original owners, does it mean you are in a form of joint ownership with the true settlers?

Let’s assume I have lived in my present apartment since I was born, that makes it more than twenty five years, it still doesn’t mean that my Landlady will automatically make me an ‘OMONILE’ let’s say she doesn’t have children, I’ll bet it wouldn’t cross her mind.

The aforementioned premise won’t even stop me from paying my house rents when due. So why would any tribe asides the Aworis’, the Binis, the Saros of Egba extraction or other smaller tribes in the Yoruba dynasty or even the Portuguese who christened the city of excellence with the name Lagos, lay claim to a land just because her doors have been wide open to all and sundry from time immemorial to the point that even the Benin Kingdom ruled Lagos in the early days of her existence.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, “no man’s land” means “disputed ground between the front lines or trenches of two opposing armies” or “a piece of unowned land or wasteland.” If the history I learnt is serving me well, then suffice to say here that Lagos was never no man’s land from the moment the Awori people settled in the part that wasn’t entirely water. The dispute that arose between the Binis and the Aworis in Lagos was not even land related. It had to do with trade and subsequently the Aworis who were known to be peace loving people submitted to the sovereignty of the Oba of Benin. I could recall Ola Rotimi’s  ‘The Gods are not blame’ where Odewale – an Ijekun man was made King of Kutuje because he came to the rescue of the inhabitants of Kutuje who had been in bondage and without a King for a while though there was an unfortunate twist to that tale. So it was with the Aworis – supposed original owners of Lagos who surrendered to the Kingship of the Oba of Benin though they were not at war.

Its even unfair to equate the incident at Kutuje with that at EKO’ the name given to Lagos by the Binis which means war camp. In Kutuje, they had somewhat genuine reasons to make Odewale King, afterall it was later learnt that he was not only a son of the soil but was also original heir to the throne. The Aworis on the other hand could not hold forte in their own domain to the point that the first King of Lagos, Oba Ado was actually from Benin. Little wonder why an Igbo man would say Yorubas are not known to be born hustlers so there is no way a city as boisterous, prosperous and excellent like Lagos even without oil should be said to be owned by ‘the Yorubas’.

Regardless I can’t remember the Binis laying claim to Lagos. But would it have been the same story if Oba Ado was an Igbo man? I will rather not answer…

I understand when they say America is no man’s land but Lagos…You have to be of the new generation that has been deprived of history to believe that. I won’t trade blames though but the government made a faux pas when they brutally eliminated history from the school curriculum and consequently murdered history educationally in cold blood. The fact that Lagos has been quite accommodating to other tribes even before it became capital city in 1914 doesn’t mean she’s sold her birthright.

There is a difference between “citizen” and “indigene”. Every Nigerian is a citizen in every part of Nigeria. But not every Nigerian is an indigene of wherever he or she resides. Every Nigerian can vote and be voted anywhere in Nigeria. That is what distinguishes a Nigerian from a Togolese who lives in Nigeria. Albeit I could swear Chadians, Camerounians and Nigeriens voted in the April Elections

Taking a long trip down memory lane, the first settler in Lagos was said to be a fisherman called Aromire. He was one of the sons of a Yoruba ruler who moved his people to the protection of the island of Iddo. There they lived by trading and fishing, the lagoon providing an excellent environment for both activities.

According to legend, Aromire swarm across from Iddo to Lagos(hmm…No wonder its called a legend), settled there and began growing peppers on what is today the site of the Oba’s palace, yeah! the same palace where a said Oba’s mouth developed excessive diarrhea. The legend is an explanation of a gradual process which took place around the late 1600’s. Fishermen from Iddo began visiting Lagos as they extended their fishing grounds and as the need for more farmland grew, their temporary dwellings were replaced by more substantial thatched huts and the patches of dry land that existed on the swampy island were turned over to farming.

To a European eye, the prospect was uninviting: an earlier visitor, the Portuguese explorer Sequiera, discribed it in 1472 as “an island partly submerged in water and surrounded by a fringe of mangroove”. But it apparently suited Aromire who occupied it and divided the land up with his nine brothers. He and his brothers are regarded as the ancestors of the Idejo, the white cap chiefs, who traditionally own all the land in Lagos. Quite separate from the Idejo chiefs, and established some time after them was the office of Oba (king).

Lagos is the homeland of ethnic Aworis and others. It is part of Yoruba land!

“Did you hear?”

On the other hand, Igbo-land ends somewhere in Delta North,they can be Landlords in Lagos however they were never original land owners. That should first be established. This is not to favour or castigate any tribe, but we need a reality check. I was born and bred in Lagos, I’m a Yoruba man but in reality I’m not a Lagosian because I am an indigene of Ondo state. Nonetheless because I’m first a Nigerian then I am practically a Lagosian because Lagos has always been my place of domicile.

Albeit that doesn’t put anyone especially the yorubas at liberty to question the Igbos or any other tribe’s dominance in Lagos because they are simply reaping the fruits of their labour; good or bad. Its their right!

It is hard to tell in present day Lagos who the original Lagosians are, In fact anyone that was born and bred in lagos has equal rights as it were with the original sons and daughters of Eko. Lagos is therefore home to all and an Igbo man who knows his onions can be a tenant as well as a landlord in this modern Lagos. Let’s us put into cognizance that before Lagos there was first a Nigeria.

Though Lagos stopped been capital of Nigeria in 1991 due to a grand plan by the then head of state, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Bambagida, the city has remained the most consequential of the lot in the country with the highest population of blacks. Having lost her economic license and pompousness, the new city that was built from scratch to specifically be a capital still can’t equal the excellence and arrogance Lagos rides on and exudes with no holds barred. Abuja can never be Lagos even till thy Kingdom comes(no be swear)

After all the evaluation, here is the bitter truth; traditionally, Lagos is owned by the Yorubas but politically Lagos is  ‘NO MAN’S LAND’ because it was a capital city and a haven for every Nigerian for a staggering 77years, long enough to promote oneness and it will be understood if an Igbo man or any other tribe asides Yoruba will also want to share in her largesse, it is within his right. Once a city becomes a capital it should cast off its ethnicity and embrace a neutral standpoint; any form of tribal sentiments should be thrown into an abyss.

By virtue of these, Lagos has become home to all by default.

One comment

  1. Victoria Akinyemi

    D korodus and d badagrys

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