A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bode George, has stated that it is shameful and unpatriotic to keep dragging about the ownership of Lagos state.
This is coming after the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, during a visit to Gov Sanwo Olu stated that Lagos was founded by ‘binis’ which has sparked controversy.
George said the controversy was unnecessary and a needless distraction when Lagosians and Nigerians all over the country are experiencing hardship and suffering.
In a statement on Wednesday titled ‘Enough of this distraction’, George said as a bonafide Lagosian, the narrative over the ownership of Lagos cannot be twisted because Nigerians know the truth.
The PDP chieftain wondered why some elders are infatuated with ownership of Lagos.
He said: “It is disheartening, shameful, embarrassing, disgraceful and unpatriotic that at a time like this when Lagosians and Nigerians are going through economic hardship, some elders are infatuated with ownership of Lagos.
“What a distraction. What a disturbance. What a perturbation.
“It is shameful that at a time millions of Nigerians are going through anguish and extreme pain, some elders are flexing muscles on proprietorship of the Centre of Excellence.
“The question to ask is: What exactly is the intention of these agitators? The whole gamut of arguments about the ownership of Lagos is not of any importance to patriotic Nigerians at this crucial time.
“Obviously, it is just a diversionary issue. All these combatants and gladiators should know that all efforts, at this trying time, should be geared at ensuring good governance, how to tackle economic issues and take people out of poverty, how to put food on their table, how to get the people out of abject poverty they are into; how to tackle the insecurity plaguing the country and how to deliver good healthcare to Nigerians whose lives are being cut short by lack of a good health care system.
“Anything short of all these is a complete waste of time. Pitiably, the ship of the nation is currently drifting, yet the issue of who is the rightful owner of Lagos is what some people prefer to discuss.
“What a pity. As a bonafide Lagosian, I say without any sense of equivocation that Lagos has been, and would remain, a centre of commerce, which has allowed everybody to settle down here. It is not in our tradition to discriminate.
“People settle down from all over Nigeria and from the entire West African coast from time immemorial – a culture which has remained with Lagos and the city of Kano, the only two cities known for commerce in Nigeria.
“People are presently angered; thus, the rhetoric about who truly owns Lagos has gained momentum, but we know ourselves.
“No matter how twisted the narratives, Nigerians know the truth.”
George confirmed the Bini came to Lagos at the earliest time, but it was temporary, saying that it was not that they conquered Lagos like the colonial imperialists, as it is being claimed.
The former NPA Chairman stated that Nigerians should refuse to be divided by diversionary issues that add no value to their lives and make the government accountable through good governance.
He added: “It is true the Bini were here in the earliest time, but it was temporary. It was not that they conquered Lagos like the colonial imperialists, as it is being bandied about.
“Inter-marriage had also overshadowed a lot of things. For instance, the only sister of my paternal father married a Benin man and gave birth to all my cousins, who are all in their 70s and 60s. They have spent the greater part of their lives in Lagos.
“We should stop dissipating energies on a frivolous issue like the original owners of Lagos; rather governance should take centre stage, how to improve the lives of the ordinary Nigerian without making the Centre of Excellence lose its candour of a commercial Nerve Centre of the West African sub-region.
“It is rather most disheartening for the government to encourage the people to engage in a frivolous narrative about founders of Lagos, a debate triggered by the comments freely expressed by a traditional ruler, who himself did not choose the tribe he originated from.
“I say, enough of engaging in such a diversionary issue as nobody created him or herself to be a Bini, Hausa, Igbo, Itsekiri, Kanuri, Fulani, Ijaw or Yoruba. We are all humans.
“What should be of utmost concern at this critical period of despondency is how to make life meaningful to all and sundry.
“Nigerians should refuse to be divided by diversionary issues which add no value to their lives, and make government accountable to them through good governance.
“We should stop wasting time or dissipating energies on non-issues as nobody chooses to be a member of the tribe he or she hails from in the country from birth.
“In New York City in the United States of America, you have Italians, Irish and all those who migrated into the city. Switzerland is also a good example; we have the Germans concentrated around the Zurich area, the Italians concentrated in Lugana, and the French concentrated in Geneva, making the country one of the best well-organised economic giants in the heart of Europe through good governance.
“But here we are made to engage in needless issues.”