Governor Fashola does not get it!kaikai2

  Saturday, 03 August 2013

  By Daniel Elombah

I have just read Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola’s “more detailed response to his Anambra State counterpart, Peter Obi as controversy raged over the sending home of some indigenes of Anambra”. I have also perused the documents he released to the media which forms part of the “deportation correspondences” between the two state governments. In his statement,

Fashola first corrected the number of the people involved. He said they were 14 and not 70 or 72 as being circulated.

Second, his response included past letters to the Anambra state Governor, since April, informing him about the plight of the 14 people, who had indicated their desire to return to their home state, after they were rehabilitated at Majidun Rehabilitation Centre.

Fashola said the 14 people were picked up on the streets of Lagos “as part of a continuous exercise to assist vulnerable citizens who roam our streets without food or shelter and a number who have medical ailments, usually in the nature of mental infirmity”.

“They were taken to Majidun Rehabilitation Centre where they treated, detoxified and restored. Thereafter, it was possible for medical and social workers to interview them. In the event, they disclosed that they were from Anambra and sought assistance to go back home. For those who may be thinking that the decision to send the 14 people home was the sole invention of Lagos State Government, Governor Fashola also included a letter from the Akwa Ibom Government to Lagos Ministry of Women Affairs, repatriating two indigenes of Lagos, who were picked up on the streets of Uyo,” Fashola said.

I have read Governor Peter Obi’s side of events. You can read Mr Obis’ response here.

I have spoken to Mr Joe Igbokwe, the ACN spokesman in Lagos, as well as two Nigeria constitutional lawyers on this issue. I have received emails from both Governor Obi’s media aide as well as from the Legislative aide to Senator Chris Ngige. I have also read Mr Ngige’s intervention.

I have equally read what other Nigerians, from all sides are saying, both antagonists and protagonists – on facebook, on the forums, and in written articles.

I have finally come to the conclusion that Governor Fashola is wrong to take these Nigerians away from Lagos; call it deportation, relocation, family reunion or whatever you like, the forcible removal of Nigerian citizens from Lagos and their forced relocation to regions of ethnic origin touches on the constitutional right of Nigerian citizens to live or settle in any part of the country freely and without molestation.

It does not matter whether the person is Hausa, Ijaw, Yoruba or Igala, it is one of the fundamental human rights fully guaranteed in Chapters III and IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

Now this is where Governor Fashola misses the point!

According to Prof. Obi Nawakamma, “the question is not whether the Lagos state government wrote to its Anambra state counterpart or not to deport, transport, expel, unite, or re-locate the 70 people (whether they are 14, or 5 does not matter. neither does it matter whether Akwa Ibom state government are doing the same thing);  the crucial question is whether the government of Lagos has a right to carry out such an action, particularly against the will of the people in question.”

Here I am in London, raging against the British government for rounding up of suspected illegal immigrants as deeply disturbing. I argued that the sweep by the UK Home Office have broken official guidelines on how to conduct stop and search operations because I believe that the sweep by the UK Border Agency, mainly at rail stations and restaurants, is wrong, racist, discriminatory profiling, and is apparently prejudging their guilt.

And here is the governor of Lagos State, deporting Nigeria citizens from the streets of Lagos!

Peter Obi has neither the right nor the authority to consent to or reject Fashola’s request, offer, demand, suggestion by whatever names called. So whether Fashola sent one letter or a million letters to Obi does not matter?

Secondly, it is the Social duty of the State (Lagos) to cater for the well being of all Nigerians, rich or poor, residing and/or doing business in Lagos. That is one of his basic responsibilities as a Governor. He can boldly resign if he cannot perform that duty!

Thirdly, when did it ever become a crime to become a destitute or to be mentally ill in the country? A state is judged as civilized according to the manner in which it takes care of the down-trodden and the disabled in their midst.

Fourthly, Fashola’s claim that the victims willingly elected to be re-united with their family has been contradicted by at least one of the deportees who was lucid enough and mentally able to give account of what happened. Many of the Local Governments claimed to have been given by the victims are unknown in Anambra state, and some of them are not Anambra indigenes.


The other issue is that in his first reaction to this controversy, Governor Fashola had warned Governor Obi not to incite Igbo people against their host communities in this matter.

But Professor Obi Nwakamma who have offered free civic lessons to both Governor Fashola and Governor Obi on this issue continued:

“The Lagos state governor is a lawyer, and has been admitted to the inner sanctum of the law in Nigeria as a Senior Advocate, but his choice of language, and the basic principle that guides his action indicate clearly that his understanding of the basic principles of the constitution, particularly as if governs a federal republic is fundamentally weak! He still talks of the Igbo residents in Lagos as “guests” and Lagos as their “host.” The Igbo are not “guests” in Lagos. They are residents. There two types of residents in a nation: one is a “foreign resident” – with all the legal, and sometimes illegal circumstances around that status. A legal foreign resident would be the citizen of another country.  Their status is temporary and might be abridged, and only by the “host nation.” It is that kind of resident that can be regarded as a “guest” anywhere in the country in which they choose to reside outside of their homeland, until they choose to abdicate their citizenship and become citizens of other nations. There are citizens who choose to reside outside of their cities of birth, and make a new life for themselves; build businesses and families and new affiliation. They may choose or not to assimilate into a new culture outside of their indigenous affiliations. They may choose to retain fundamental aspects of their culture in the place they reside. But they are never guests. They have the full rights of citizenship.

A man born in Isale Eko, may have indigenous roots in Isale-Eko, but once he establishes long term residency in Molete, he becomes a Molete resident. All rights and obligation pertaining to the residents of Molete will be due to him under a constitutional government. His status will not be in question, and he does not have higher or lower rights. On his return to Isale-Eko, should he choose to return to the land of his ancestry, he will enjoy the same benefits of citizenship with an Egba man, like Tinubu, who has established long residency in Isale-Eko. His indigeneship in Isale-Eko will be a privilege only in terms of the security of a family property or heirloom, like a piece of land, still in the possession of his family. The law of the land may not dishonor his claims, nor would it dishonor the claims of an Obowo man, who buys and maintains property in Isale-Eko and pays tax to the Lagos City government as required by law. None will have greater rights than the other under the laws governing citizenship in a nation. Nigeria is a nation. Until the government of Lagos establishes a claim of secession, and declares itself a new nation outside of Nigeria, and decides who or not is its citizen, and who or not is a “guest’ to its new nation, Igbo residents by free choice, like other ethnic residents in Lagos are Lagosians. They will be subject only to the laws of the federation of Nigeria, and they will be protected by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of which Lagos state is but a mere part. As Lagosians, Igbo in Lagos, have no greater or lower rights than Fashola himself under the laws of Nigeria upon which the governor was elected, and on which the government of Lagos state was established. To therefore say Lagos is a “host state” to Igbo residents suggests that Igbo residents in Lagos are merely “guests” passing through. That is not true. They are permanent residents and Lagos is their state. Many Igbo lived in Lagos before Fashola’s ancestors.

It is true that Governor Obi erred in petitioning directly to the President of the Federation. It is an act, which in itself is full of ignorance, and possibly also because the Anambra state governor did not receive adequate legal advice. In a federal system, the governor and the president are co-equals, with the president as primus inter pares. A little O’level class in government should have made this clear to the governor. They both share executive authority. The matter between Anambra and Lagos is a constitutional question, and requires a direct petition to the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is the Chief Legal authority of the land, who may then communicate with all other authorities in the land including the president on a constitutional question. It is the duty of the Attorney-General to introduce the matter in council, and should the Federal government decide, direct that the citizens be granted their rights to live anywhere they choose in the federation. Should the Lagos state dispute and go the court, the Attorney-General would then pursue this constitutional question on behalf of the federal government at any court of records. The president acts only when he has been duly briefed by his Attorney-General. This is basic protocol. The president cannot, by executive obligation and protocol, act outside of a given authority of the state. That would be considered a misuse of power. There is a reason why these appointments are made and the offices established by law, and there is a reason why the Attorney-General of the Federation is the third on the order of hierarchy in the protocol of the Federal Executive Council. In actual fact, the Anambra state governor only needed to authorize, after a due meeting in council, the Attorney-General of Anambra state to communicate with the Federal Attorney-General on the matter concerning Anambra and Lagos state on this matter of the deportation of Nigerian citizens. So, what does Obi want the president to do? reprimand or remove Fashola? This is not a military government and Fashola is not the President’s consul in Lagos, he is head of the executive administration of Lagos state, acting on behalf of an elected government, presumably. Part of the problem of Nigeria is that even those who operate the system do not understand the rule of law. It comes from this generation growing up under the chaos of military rule, and therefore incapable it seems, of civilized conduct, including in matters of exercising authority. That is why we need to begin a real program of political/civic education by re-introducing Civics to the school curriculum, and right from the primary schools. – Obi Nwakanma

Compatriots, I have quoted Nwakamma extensively to illustrate that if a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and an elite governor cannot grasp these basic rudiments of governance, wherein lies our salvation in this country.

I agree with Dr Okenwa Nwosu who lamented; “The main burden crippling Nigeria is not lack of discipline; it is lack of basic knowledge – a.k.a. global ignorance!”

This is not the first time Governor Fashola is engaging in this unconstitutional behaviour. He should no longer be allowed to get away with it!



Posted on August 3, 2013, in News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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