The sound of the rumpus rocking the leadership of Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market, Mushin, Lagos, is like the clattering gong of a village town-crier, as the executive members of Ladipo Central Executive Auto Dealers Association and some of its members were said to have protested in the streets on July 25th 2013, in what they said was an imposition of one Alhaji Oladotun Abibu Oki as the Babaloja of the market; the market which the Igbo-traders among them have cried out distinctly that they laboured for many years to build and made it pronounced.
A somewhat group leader of the market, President General, LACEC, Comrade Ikechukwu Animalu bewailed that the union rejected the obligation of Oki as the new Babaloja of Ladipo General Market, hence there was an appeal for the South East governors, Igbo leaders across the sphere to come to their aid. The Oki-group is perceived to be the Yoruba hegemonic agenda of the market, where Ndigbo have been told to go back to the South-East, if they are not ready to accept the leadership of the Alhaji Oki.
The ex-Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is one Igbo leader and prominent Nigerian, who did not wait after a minute to answer the call by his Kith and Kin in the racketed market. He didn’t just visit the market for visiting sake, but presages Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State that he is not singing Hosanna in the Highest, regarding an apparent and abysmal expatriation of 67 Igbo people from Lagos to Onitsha in Anambra State.
While on an international assignment in Zimbabwe, Kalu sent some of his allies to the market to ascertain the true position of what he was told in the numerous calls and e-mails he got while out of the country. It was the information of his associates that confirmed to Kalu that the message he had also read in the media from the Special Advisers of Governor Fashola on why the Igbo were deported in their “fathers’ land”, were not just mere ingratiating.
Dr. Kalu, who is still crying and in shock, is yet to believe that Gov. Fashola, who was taken in high esteem across the country for his gentlemanliness, hatched the heinous agenda against Ndigbo in no other place but Lagos, where Kalu gave an account that Ndigbo add about 55 per cent to Lagos State financial system.
His wonderment is that there was no empowerment in any section of the Constitution that gave room for a state or governor to expel any Nigerian to any part of the country. Citing the Right to Freedom of Movement in Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Kalu reads it: “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby, or exit therefrom.”
What could be taken as one of the fictitious films was played on Ndigbo in Lagos. Kalu decries any reason that Fashola could give that warranted the arrest and detention of these Igbo persons in Ikorodu for about six months before their prohibited deportation in four buses, escorted by anti-riot policemen, to Onitsha. Kalu weeps against the response from the Lagos State Government that the Igbo were exiled home, to join them up, with their families.
Whatever an insult was, Kalu sees this as the worst insult to any race – let alone – the colossal Igbo people. This is the types of nuisance that Kalu has been fighting against that are always meted out against Ndigbo. It was on April 18 2013 that he took the case of Ndigbo to Jubilee Room, House of Commons in London, at a forum organised by Enugu State Diaspora UK, to inform them about the acidic political rain that the rest of Nigerians and the Nigerian state want Ndigbo to be walking under while it hurts them.
This offensive rain that has been beating Ndigbo since the country was amalgamated in 1914, Kalu says it must stop, no matter who is abetting to it. He says that the bloody rain has continued to beat Igbo people, resulting in organised anti-Igbo massacres in Kano and other parts of Northern Nigeria over the years. It is today Lagos.
Anyone who thought that Kalu was seeking for publicity should take an evidence from what Fashola has done to Ndigbo and embrace Kalu’s fact whenever he said that Ndigbo have been deprived of their dues and rights in the Nigerian federation; and that while other geo-political zones have six states each, the South-East has only five, which it is not even sure would be increased to six, since there are many Fasholas in Nigeria, who loathe Ndigbo with pride.
Kalu did not make any error when he said that this inhumane gesture represents the blatant reality of the third rate status forced upon the Igbo in the political space in Nigeria. What Fashola has done to Ndigbo in Lagos has further proved Kalu right, when he said in London that the Igbo have strived but thus far failed to persuade the Nigerian establishment about the hurt and humiliation and deprivation that come with the idea that they, as a people, are legally condemned to third rate status in their country, as amply demonstrated by the states and local governments in each zones.
The ex-Governor told Londoners that the implications of this calculated fraud against Ndigbo are so massive and go entirely untold: Unequal allocation of resources, unequal voice at the Federal Executive Council, unequal representation at the National Assembly (the gravest of all), unequal juridical participation in the administration of justice in the federation, unequal participation in the federal civil service and adjunct bodies, unequal representation in the armed forces and para-military organisations, unequal representation in the diplomatic corps ensuring incapacity in showcasing the Igbo culture.
Who doubted Kalu when he said that these structural disparities are constitutionally entrenched, thus their grave implications for Ndigbo are beyond the primary questions of inequality and maginalisation. Little wonder, then, that the South-East Zone still manifests the physical characteristics of a conquered land 43 years after civil war.
Kalu had expected Gov. Fashola to resolve the issue good-naturedly, and not by his brazen act of sending Ndigbo packing from Lagos. Therefore, he is asking the Federal Government of Nigeria if Ndigbo are no longer part of Nigeria. He says that he is yet to believe the story making the rounds that from the day that Fashola came into power, he has not hidden his anti-Igbo agenda.
But Fashola forgot the explanation of Kalu on how Ndigbo voted for Chief M.K.O. Abiola (when he was alive) and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1993 and 1999/2003 presidential elections to further their love for the Yoruba race. Kalu, however, demands a public apology from the Gov. Fashola to all those illegally deported within seven days. He says that a duplicate of such an act must be stopped or he will head to court to defend the interest of the Ndigbo in Lagos.
Whilst Kalu sees Fashola’s act as a breach of the Constitution, it is essential that Ndigbo should hearken to the voice of this dude, calling on them to unite, irrespective of their political affiliations and associations. Although, many are with Kalu in Njiko Igbo for the actualisation of this unity. Arguably, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is the only Igbo person in the recent times who has left the comfort of his zone and preferred to be travelling round the world for the cause of Ndigbo. If he is not in Cambodia today, he is in Canada tommorrow. Yet, the Fasholas of this country wouldn’t want Ndigbo be.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: [email protected]