Time to break Lagos’ monopoly as Nigeria’s socio-economic capital —MASSOB, Intersociety & Anambra CLO

Posted by News Express | 7 August 2013 | 10,028 times

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Three rights groups this morning made a persuasive argument for the immediate decentralisation of Lagos as Nigeria’s socio-economic capital and tasked governors of the five South-East states to liaise with the Federal Government to achieve this.

In a joint public statement issued in Onitsha, a copy of which was made available to News Express, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), and the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), argued that the continued sustenance of Lagos the country’s socio-economic honeycomb no longer makes sense.

The statement was signed by Comrade Uchenna Madu (MASSOB), Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi (Intersociety) and Comrades Aloysius Emeka Attah and Justus Uche Ijeoma for Anambra CLO. Entitled “Internal Deportation of Igbo-Lagosians: A Joint Call for Decentralization of the Age-long Concentration of Socio-economic Activities in Lagos”, it was triggered by the July 24 deportation of 72 non-indigenes by the Lagos State Government of scores of non-indigenes who were dumped in the commercial town of Onitsha, Anambra State. Below is the text of the statement:

Following the controversies and unceasing condemnations trailing the internal deportation of 72 Nigerian citizens of Igbo-Lagos extraction by the Government of Lagos State and its ruling party,  now called All Progressives Congress, the International Society for  Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra and the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization, today in Onitsha Nigeria, call for immediate decentralization of the age-long concentration of socioeconomic activities in Lagos State and de-monopolization of same as “the economic capital of Nigeria”.

Our joint call is made after critical assessment of circumstances on the ground including defences put forward by the Government of Lagos State and its APC in which it among other things, blamed the Nigerian citizens of Igbo extraction for flocking, flooding and stressing Lagos State and its population. The state and its APC party also submitted controversially that Igbo-Lagosians are responsible for 100% of violent and syndicate crimes committed in the state. It said that Igbo-Lagosians are involved in advance fee fraud (419), kidnapping, armed robbery, assassination, etc. It is in view of this that this joint hallowed and informed call is made. The conclusion drawn by the spokesmen of the Government of Lagos State and its APC also raises serious fear over the possibility of inclusion of violent criminals among 72 citizens dumped in Onitsha at 3am, at the hours of blue law, especially the 54 escaped deportees.

However, our joint call is in no way extricating the Government of Lagos State and its APC from its malicious, atrocious and grossly unconstitutional act. “The hallmark of a modern government, as espoused by Thomas Hobbes, is not measured by a number of high rising buildings or tarred roads with flowering roadsides or number of exotic cars driven by its infinitesimal rich/privileged class. Rather, it is measured by how the welfare of the downtrodden including citizens with disabilities is being catered for through government humane social programmes and actions. It is in no way measured by government inhumane social programmes and actions such as internal deportation of citizens from one federating unit to another. A country without the downtrodden is not a country. This is because it is the welfare of the downtrodden that originally brought government into existence. Another name for government is Destitute Social Welfare,” says Emeka Umeagbalasi.

Evicting hawkers, petty traders, beggars and the physically and mentally challenged from the streets and roads in order to beautify them is like deforestation that destroys the only source of oxygen meant for human survival. Their presence in well-secured public places is the real beauty of a country and the traditional monument of the origin of government. Social living condition is propelled not by man, but by nature. A less privileged citizen today can become a privileged citizen tomorrow and a privileged citizen today can be less privileged citizen tomorrow. The issue of being a destitute or less privileged also has individual and corporate connotations. In other words, there also exists corporate destitute and corporate privileged. For instance, China is a corporate destitute of yesterday and a corporate privileged country of today. Nigeria was a corporate privileged state in the 1970s, today, it is a corporate destitute.

“Punishing a citizen because he or she is a destitute is a crime against humanity and amounts to playing God. In the major streets of the USA, for instance, destitute including lepers, the mentally challenged and beggars still abound. In all her airports, the physically challenged are treated as primus inter pares or first among equal. They are placed in the category of the vulnerable class, cared and catered for at all times. During sightseeing visits organised for international visitors in the USA, ‘destitute in the streets’ including drug addicts, lepers, beggars and mentally challenged are shown and introduced as part of the great US society and foundation upon which the US Government exists. Their resettlement and rehabilitation centres are also included as part of American great monuments for sightseeing visitors.

“The great civil rights struggles of the 1960s in the USA were also propelled by people hitherto called ‘American Destitute Class’, from which the present US President emerged.  The Catholic Destitute Rehabilitation Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Destitute  Food Center in Seattle, the Washington State and the  Girls Incorporation in Huntsville, Alabama, to mention but a few, are all part of the US  great monuments and epitome of  her greatness. The white section of the South African society, which leads the African Continent in terms of socioeconomic governance transformation, was founded by the European destitute and prisoners.  Sadly, the Lagos State’s version of destitute welfare, which has spread to River State, is the Onitsha Upper Iweka Flyover, which was randomly and militarily created at 3am, at the hours of blue law,” further says Emeka Umeagbalasi.

In view of the foregoing, therefore, it is about time Lagos State’s age-long monopoly of Nigeria’s socioeconomic capital got broken and decentralised. To this extent, it is our demand that the South-East Governors Forum and other core stakeholders should hold talks with the Federal Government of Nigeria so as to get the foreign missions in the country particularly those of Europe, North American, India, China and other South-East Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council to open their consulate offices in Enugu for visa procession and obtainment and related issues. A situation whereby the South-East and the South-South Nigerian citizens have to travel to Lagos to obtain visas for international travels is not only condemned but also amounts to diplomatic enslavement. Also traveling to overseas through Lagos is not only death-prone, but also harsh and wicked policy that must be reversed. The upgrading of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport is a welcome development, but it is not enough. Efforts must be made to equip it and make it to wear the outlook of a modern international airport so as to meet international aviation qualities to be able to attract not cabin coffins but internationally certified healthy aircrafts.

Having an international airport is not enough if access routes to it are not provided and maintained at all times. To this extent, it is our joint call that the Onitsha-Enugu and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Ways, which are now death traps, should be reconstructed as a matter of uttermost immediacy. For immediate and effective utilisation of the international airport, the five states of the South-East should jointly fund the reconstruction of the two important roads and seek for refund from the Federal Government of Nigeria later. There is also need to decongest and decentralise Lagos wharfs. In view of this, cargoieing container goods to Port Harcourt wharfs, which are more friendly and convenient for traders of the Southeast and the South-South zones, should be encouraged and intensified.

There should also be proper dredging of the River Niger and construction of medium size wharf in Onitsha as part of the decongestion and decentralisation of the Lagos economic capital monopoly. For easy conveyance of goods and services to Onitsha, Nnewi and Enugu, a connecting bridge should be built between the Ogwuikpere- Ogbaru part of Anambra State and the Ndoni part of River State, which, when built, will shorten the distance between Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Onitsha, Anambra State, to about one and a half hours as against the seven hours’ drive from Lagos to Onitsha, Anambra State.

In addition to existing industrial layouts in the South-East zone, there should be established new ones to be decentralised and sited in Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi states and they should be provided with modern industrial incentives such as roads, power station, human, physical and policy security as well as tax concessions. Entrepreneur Igbo-Lagosians should begin to divest and invest in their ancestral zone. This is in line with the spirit and letters of the Constitution, Federalism and their ancestral norms, which empower them through freewill to move, reside and invest freely in any part of Nigeria. It is in view of this that we wish to commend the likes of INNOSON Group of Companies, Orange Drugs Nigeria Limited and JUHEL Pharmaceutical Limited for taking a bold step in establishing industries in their ancestral zone. That Lagos State that today tags poor Igbo-Lagosians as “destitute”, survives economically today, is evidenced by 40% contributions made monthly by prosperous and enterprising Igbo-Lagosians into its internally generated revenues, which records monthly benchmark of  about N23.5 billion.

We wish to reveal to the world that the Igbo-Nigerians are not only targeted for pogrom and ethnic cleansing by their Hausa-Fulani federating partners, but we are also pursued through media warfare and economic enslavement by our Yoruba federating partners. For instance, the averted plane crash that nearly killed the Anambra Governor and others about three months ago has to do with a distress call that he received informing him of malicious efforts of some political interest individuals from the Lagos axis of the South-West to confuse and corner the world’s largest brewery domiciled in South Africa to divert its planned mega brewery project slated to be built in a South-East city to an area in Lagos called Epe Industrial Estate. This would have made the company to pull out of a South-East city where it just completed and opened a brewing site. Its proposed mega brewery is said have been designed to be three times larger  than an existing brewery located at the Ninth Mile area of Enugu State. The same Igbo-Nigerian enemies were fingered as brains behind those discouraging foreign investors that have chosen to invest in Anambra State to turn their back on the state and its people.

Further, the immortal vision of the late Obafemi Awolowo that necessitated the introduction of television in 1955 in the old West, which signaled its media access, ownership and control in Nigeria, has been defeated and brutally bastardised. The hitherto “gong of social emancipation” is now an instrument of institutionalisation of falsehood and ethnic jingoism. Our tribute to the inventors of the electronic/social media knows no bounds. The South-West’s loss of the ownership and control of the media including the print media is clearly evident. An effective counter-force is herby established. The era of concoction of theoretical falsehood and barefaced ethnic interest masqueraded in federalism theory and their imposition on all federating units and their constituents through ethnically breaded media is gone for good. The fame, for which the South-West media was known, died after anti military and pro-democracy struggles in 1999.

Finally, we wish to restate our firm position that no amount of warfare by an obsolete section of the Nigerian media and concocted defences and falsehood will water down the abominable and grossly unconstitutional action of the Government of Lagos State, which is now christened “Lagos Disease” or “Lagos Constitutional Tuberculosis’. If the Lagos State Government and its APCares afraid of losing any forthcoming elections in Nigeria including the Anambra 2013, then it serves them right so that next they will never embark on such unconstitutional and illegal acts especially during the election season. It is laughable to observe those canvassing that 14, not 67 or 72 citizens were internally deported from Lagos to Onitsha at the hours of the dead. We wish to repeat what we said before that by convention, liars use passive voice, while truth tellers use active voice. It is a case of forged and unverified document manufactured by the LASG versus testimonial pieces of evidence obtained from some mentally coherent deportees. By testimonial pieces of evidence in our custody, the number of deportees, which is 72, is incontestable. Also the number of citizens deported is immaterial and has nothing to do with the unconstitutionality of the act.

•Photo courtesy YNaija shows aerial view of the Marina area of Lagos.

Source: News Express

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