Igbos In Lagos State: My Experience, By Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe

adeseye Ogunlewe
Lagos State belongs as much to the ethnic Igbo as to the Yoruba, Ijaw, Hausa, Fulani, Efik, Idoma, Urhobo, Itshekiri, Edo, and so on who live in it, pay tax, identify with it, and settle in it. That compact was made the moment Nigeria became a single nation, and a successor power to the old principalities who were subdued and who ceded their sovereignty for the new commonwealth of Nigeria .
It was pragmatic. The Igbo had the skill and the industry, and Lagos was the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria and its major port. The Igbo have lived in Lagos since the 15th century when the Aro and other Igbo first settled in good number in a place we now call “Oyingbo” in the era of Benin and the Portuguese trade.
The arrival of  Dr. Namdi Azikiwe to Lagos in 1937 from Accra after his studies in the United States, stimulated the political and cultural environment of Lagos as no other has before or after him. Zik literally resurrected the wizard of Kirsten hall from political death. Zik represented Lagos in the western house. The NCNC was the power in Lagos , and not the Action Group. The Igbo were prominent in the governance of Lagos in the Lagos City Hall .
The institutional development of Lagos – the railways, the ports and ship yards; the education and research facilities; the Banking and Commodities Exchange, the development of towns like Yaba, Surulere, Ebutta-Metta, Festac Town, Victoria Island, and now increasing the Ajah-Lekki axis, and of course, the ghettoes along the Orile-Badagry axis, have profound Igbo imprimatur.  The circulation of the image of Lagos is to date best reflected in the cosmopolitan Igbo imagination of one of the greatest African writers of the 20th century, Cyprian Ekwensi, a thorough Lagosian if there was any. Igbo have built industries in Lagos and have been drivers of commerce and exchange.
Interestingly, I was born at plot number 8, Okoya Street , Idumagbo- Lagos, while the Ojukwu families were residing at number one to three on the same street. I grew up to know the father of Odumegwu Ojukwu. Chimbizie and Azuka grew up with us on the same street. Even the Chibeze small parking space at the end of Okoya Street is called Ojukwu.  I later attended St. Patrick Primary School , Idumagbo, where I had very amiable classmates of Igbo origin in the persons of Azubike Ezenwa and Damian, Ihekuna, both now professors and doctors of today. They were brilliant, resourceful and friendly.
When we were playing bamboo and Tene Felele at Orikoriko at Onola playing ground, the Igbo participated actively. In the area of sports, school football and athletes, Igbo were dominant at Kings College, St. Gregory school, St. Finbars, Akoka, Igbobi College and Ahmadiyya College, Agege. Such boys, Njokwu, George Amu, Stephen Keshi, Henry Nwosu, Patrick Noquapor, Peter Anieke and Sammy Opone were dominant on the field of football, while Asiodu, Empire Kanu were prominent on the field of athletics.
Anytime we went to watch football match at Onikan stadium, my darling team, Stationery Stores and our adversary team I hated most was the E. C. N, where the centre forward, Paul Hamilton, the National Team, Fabian the captain who bit the dust. Our greatest captain was Duru, Oduah Onyenrekwa, Onyeador Onyeali and Opel, the greatest outside right Nigeria ever had, Cyril Azuluka. So, during my early life at primary school, the Igbo were always there and delightful to watch, both in athletes and on the football field.
When I listened to radio at that time, both the commentary and drama series, the Igbo were there for you. The likes of Chris Ndaguba, Ernest Okwonkwo, Ralph Okpara ‘Alawo Sekiseki the traveler’. The episode will end with – The script was written by Ralph Okpara and edited by Yemi Lijadu.
Anytime I visited where I was born today in Idumagbo at Lagos Island , the entire place is covered by Igbo traders in their thousands. They were never troublesome but decent and accommodating. They have virtually taken over all properties of the indigenes. They succeeded in developing all our properties, married to most of our children even from the royal families. There is no single house you will visit without an Igbo man selling wares there.
So, who is saying something else? Only the strangers in our midst will not notice participation of economic development in our state by the Igbos. Most houses and shops in Lagos Island have been purchased, developed and occupied by the Igbos. The value of their investments in Lagos Island alone is in trillions of naira.
Instead of deporting the Igbos, whose contributions to the development of Lagos state are immensurable, you must keep on praising and encouraging them to keep on developing Lagos State .
•Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe is a former Nigerian minister for Works and Housing.
  • Peetee

    This PDP man should know that to every 1 Igbo man’s achievement in Lagos, there are 10 yorubas equally doing the same. The Igbos want the political leadership of Lagos frm Yoruba. How many settlers have they allowed political leverage in their land..

  • pet

    God bless u Senator. U will live long. Truth is bitter, but it most be told.

  • Lanre

    Senator
    Ogunlewe. You are missing the point and encouraging lawlessness. I will not
    dabble into your wrong conclusion on the “deportation” of vagrants.
    There is a difference between “deportation” and resettlement. I have
    the following points for you:

    1).
    In the first instance, we Yorubas have serious problems. We do not know when to
    keep quiet. Are you comparing Chinua Achebe with Henry Nwosu or Stephen Keshi.
    The footballers have tried to do things to unite the different nationalities in
    Nigeria. Achebe worked to divide Nigerians. And he has a large followership
    among Igbos.

    2).
    What is the point of bringing up The Ojukwus. Did the son of Sir Ojukwu not
    lead a seccession bid even though he speaks Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba? Have the
    Onirus of Lagos given the right to Land they own in Lagos to The Ogbonna’s?
    What about The Ojora’s? Everyone comes from somewhere. Today, Lagos State is
    for purposes of identification and Ethnic Grouping, classified as a Yoruba
    State. It was LOOBO in the second republic and today Yorubas have governed the
    state except during the era of the Military.

    3).
    Let us make a clear distinction between the Territory of Lagos and Lagos State.
    For example, you might find a multitude of ethnicities on Lagos Island and its
    extensions in Surulere, Ebute-Metta and so on. But that is not Lagos State.
    What about Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu? Lagos State belongs to the Yorubas. Maybe in
    500 years we can share it with others. The reality today is that Lagos State
    and everything within it is identified as within the Yoruba Nation.

    4).
    Why are Yoruba Elders unable to show courage and leadership at critical times?
    You see this is why Chief Awolowo will remain evergreen in our memories.
    Obasanjo during the June 12, 1993 debacle could not muster the courage to speak
    out and damn the consequences. Because he does not care about Yorubas. Fasheun
    led a suspect to his home grounds; a man who was in charge of security when
    many Yorubas were killed and an election won by a Yoruba man was annulled.
    Chief Femi Fani-Kayode penned an article explaining to people that you cannot
    call Lagos a no-man’s land. Instead of some Yoruba Elders to keep quiet, they
    are penning articles deriding him and encouraging those who have no respect for
    us Yorubas. Indeed agba ti n tan nle (Where are the elders?)

    5).
    I will never forget Ambassador Dapo Fafowora who turned down an appointment
    given him by the Abacha/Diya administration. We young men then felicitated with
    him when we met at social gatherings in Lagos. Why can we not have Yoruba Elders
    who in critical times will stand up for what is right or if they have nothing
    to say keep quiet. Have you seen Igbo Elders penning articles criticizing their
    own?

    6).
    I see your article as nothing but an appeal for votes. A cheap, marketing tool
    to garner Igbo Votes. I think at this point it is apposite to state that it
    appears in Yorubaland the saying “N ta je ko je a gbon” (We lack
    wisdom because of material gains or better what we will eat will not make us
    wise) is the prevailing ethos. That is not Yoruba Culture. Our ethos is built
    on hard work, forthrightness and courage. A reason why a man’s political
    fortunes can never be improved by being duplicitous or lacking in integrity.

    • Dare Ogunlela

      THANKS LANRE. YOU SPOKE FOR ME. YOU SAID EVERYTHING. WE WILL KEEP WATCHING THE MOVES OF THE FEMI ARIBISALAS AND ADESEYE OGUNLEWES. It is election time and all dubious gimmicks are up.

  • Eniolorunda Adeoti

    Thank you Premiumtimes for publishing these essays from Femi Aribisala and Adeseye Ogunlewe. They are opening the eyes of Nigerians. Since election is coming I never had my doubt about why Orji Kalu and Peter Obi -both Igbos did what they did. Ogunlewe had just confirmed it. It is election time. But we are not bothered. Now I have just one question for Femi Aribisala and Adeseye Ogunlewe-suppose everything you said is true-why are all these not applicable IN OTHER PARTS OF NIGERIA? WHY DO WE WANT TO BE INCLUSIVE IN YORUBALAND WHILE THE REST OF TE COUNTRY ARE EXCLUSIVE. ? I think the first thing you ought to have done to make sense is to make a case about equity, and fairness and argue that other tribes in Nigeria should emulate the Yorubas. You never did that. You never said Portharcourt, Sokoto, Onitsha, Owerri, Enugu, Aba, Calabar, Kano, Maiduguri, Jos, Awka, Benin are no man’s land. Why ogunlewe? because of votes? Secondly, as someone said when there is talk about state creation other tribes argue that Lagos is a yoruba state. They use that to stop yorubas from demanding for more state. After state creation is settled they say “oh yu see lagos is no man’s land” So we Yorubas lose both ways-haba Ogunlewe. That is fine . election is coming if there is one-we all will meet at the polls if we have an election.

    • Fine Naija Bobo

      With the powers conferred on me as the Finest Naija Bobo, I declare ENUGU and ABA Yoruba Cities with immediate effect! Please, all Yorubas, Hausas, Kanuris, Ebiras, Ishans, Beroms, Fulanis, Ijaws etc., wishing to set up industries are welcome to anywhere in Igboland – as that would offer employment to teeming Igbo youths? So, come and invest. Now, can we end the health-threatening bitterness and go over to important, beneficial matters? Okay!

      • Eniolorunda Adeoti

        Let me add to your dry humour. We Yorubas do not covet other people’s land. We do not say other people’s land is ours. We are okay with our land just as others should be okay with their land. However others are not okay with their land because of what? I do not know. The simple request is: do in your land what you claim you do in other people’s land! Hope this helps you as we all digest Ogunlewe’s unfolds his campaign for 2015!!!

        • Fine Naija Bobo

          This is no dry or wet humour. This is an open invitation. I thought the story out there was that Igbos would not allow any person from another ethnic extraction to invest and prosper in their land? Well, I doubt if the Lagos State Govt who benefits of the huge taxes investors from all over Nigeria pay it would sympathize with your view.They would rather embrace the fellow who contributes to the growth of its economy than mere liabilities who merely echo hate speeches to gratify some primitive emotions, that’s all. I challenge Fani-Kayode to show evidence that he has contributed anything to Lagos economy (or even that of Osun State, or Ife) either by way of taxes or investments. Well, the world has gone beyond such noise, and we should learn to tolerate ourselves to save our health. Bitterness eats the soul like cancer. While others are driving away investors, Igbos need them to come to Igboland to invest! I am also concerned that a bloody war was fought to “keep Nigeria One” – so Nigeria has become truly one, let no-one allow any bitterness give him heart attack, because ONE Nigeria must remain. Ogunlewe is Lagosian and knows what he is talking, why Fani-Kayode is almost from the North – in far Ife – nearer to the North that Lagos itself

          • Eniolorunda Adeoti

            baby we dont covet other people’s land and we do not ask our children to covet other people’s land. When our children invest in other people’s land either in Nigeria or outside, we ask them to respect the land that welcome them and not to declare it no man’s land. The Yoruba person is all over the place in a civil and quiet person-Europe, Americas, carribean, their children are told never to get out there and declare the land of those who welcome them no man’s land. We see that as theft. It is immoral. That is the issue. Anyway, replies are made when there is time. This is not going to be settled by online gossips. We will resolve it when we get to the bridge if the bridge is still there.

          • Lincon

            PDP is desperate, and tryin to pschic the igbo in lagos, don’t be surprised that if that PDP get to power, they may do worst than jus deportin igbo beggars

          • armrod

            FOR NOW LAGOS IS NO MAN’S LAND WE HAVE NOT EVEN STARTED DEBATING WHO OWNS IT WHEN THAT TIME COMES YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ONLY MIGRATED TO LAGOS FROM SOMEWHERE.

          • armrod

            KEEP ORJI AND fANI kAYODE FASHOLA WILL PICK ORJI

        • Humphrey

          @Eniolorunda Adeoti, why are you so bitter with Senator Ogunlewe’s article. When last did you go to the locations he mentioned in his article. If you didn’t want any Igbo man to own a part of your land, why did you sell the land to them in the first place? Why should you collect over N300million from an Igbo man to sell a plot of land to him in Ikoyi, collect taxes and other tenement rates from him and yet, you will not want him to claim rights of a landlord? Did any Igbo man stop you from buying properties, lands and other assets in Enugu and laying claims as a Landlord? When did Orji Uzor Kalu’s outburst that Lagos is a no man’s land represent the opinion of over 70million Ndigbo. Please you people should stop all this ethnic nonsense. It is only an insane man that will say that Yorubas are not the aborigines of Lagos state. Lagos is a Yoruba state QED. But if you decide to sell your fathers properties to me and collect my hard earned money and come back later to trespass I will jail you. So let us all stop sulking and move on. Most of the properties at Idumagbo have be bought over from the original aborigine owners by the Igbo traders. Did they force them to sell? So where did Ogunlewe get it wrong here. You want a man that is almost 70 years or Femi Aribisala that is a devout Christian to descend to the same gutter level as the skunk head FFK in order to make you happy. Man wake up and stop this ethnic bigotry.

      • armrod

        HAHAHAHAHA !!!! IF THIS CAN MAKE THEM TO COME EAST

  • Adesewa

    Election 2015 Here we GO! Ogunlewe , this sounds more like a campaign speech-Na wa o Wonder no go end for dis obodo naija. Ogunlewe, the opportunism of Nigerian politicans knows no boundaries. Anyway we will deliver the judgment at the polls since you have started the campaign.

    • Humphrey

      @Adesuwa, stop deceiving yourself. If Senator Ogunlewe is aiming for the Igbo votes and they all decide to vote for him enblock come 2015, he will automatically become the Governor of Lagos state and there is nothing you can do about it. Asiwaju conducted census in Lagos state and told us that the Igbos are 45% of Lagos population, Yorubas are 47% and others make up the other number. The Igbos are not daft to vote for anybody just because he wants to play politics with the ongoing debate in Lagos. If the Igbos decide to vote blindly like some other ethnic groups that just simply vote along ethnic and religious line and agree to sheepishly vote for Ogunlewe if he presents himself, their is not that can stop him winning. Ogunlewe is a Lagosian and still have kits and kins that will follow him if he shows up, combine with a block vote of 45%, you will then know that all this your bragging of meeting him in the poll is rubbish. So stop threatening the man and digest his good and sensible article, even, if he for once decided to do the right thing for political gains let it be

  • Atinuke Adebisi.

    Given the campaign mode of this essay, Senator Ogunlewe, how much have been contributed to your party’s 2015 election? Or how much are you expecting? When we get to the bridge if it has not been irreparably damaged, we will cross it .

  • Damola–okeogun@shaki

    truely, age as it is said, is not synanymous to wisdom. Femi aribisala and ogunlewe are disgrace to yoruba race. If nt for their age i wud av said they are nitwit nonentities-fools

  • Damola–okeogun@shaki

    because of political reasons, these pple are selling their elegant tribe to d barbarians. Kuku say lagos belongs to d igbo.

    • Emmanuel

      Barbarians? What have we become?

  • Tunde Bello

    It is time to weep for Yoruba land.

    • Humphrey

      Tunde Bello, You should rather weep for yourself and the skunk head FFK that have brainwashed you into believing the rubbish he uttered is true. Why are you so bitter with Senator Ogunlewe’s article. When last did you go to the locations he mentioned in his article. If you didn’t want any Igbo man to own a part of your land, why did you sell the land to them in the first place? Why should you collect over N300million from an Igbo man to sell a plot of land to him in Ikoyi, collect taxes and other tenement rates from him and yet, you will not want him to claim rights of a landlord? Did any Igbo man stop you from buying properties, lands and other assets in Enugu and laying claims as a Landlord? When did Orji Uzor Kalu’s outburst that Lagos is a no man’s land represent the opinion of over 70million Ndigbo. Please you people should stop all this ethnic nonsense. It is only an insane man that will say that Yorubas are not the aborigines of Lagos state. Lagos is a Yoruba state QED. But if you decide to sell your fathers properties to me and collect my hard earned money and come back later to trespass I will jail you. So let us all stop sulking and move on. Most of the properties at Idumagbo have be bought over from the original aborigine owners by the Igbo traders. Did they force them to sell? So where did Ogunlewe get it wrong here. You want a man that is almost 70 years or Femi Aribisala that is a devout Christian to descend to the same gutter level as the skunk head FFK in order to make you happy. Man wake up and stop this ethnic bigotry.

  • abimbola adelakun

    Whoever said Adeseye Ogunlewe’s “experience” reads like a 2015 vote seeking election campaign is right on his money. Here are the what expose Ogunlewe who is buried his head in sand like an ostrich thinking that since he claims not to SEE then none SEES!!!
    1. Even the most intense defender(among the Igbos) of the moral duplicity of Peter Obi governor of Anambra state who deported Nigerians in 2011 are begining to “shift” a little bit to “see” this moral duplicity, I do not see Ogunlewe’s reference to Peter Obi 2011 deportation in his essay. Why? he must not “offend” by denying the truth.

    2. Orji kalu defaulted on tax. This in itself is a big moral issue. Orji kalu said he was being penalised because he is Igbo. Orji kalu deliberately worked tribal politics into his engaging in major moral affront against the society. The Igbos INSTINCTIVELY (we now understand why) defended Orji kalu that he is right. After a barrage of pounding to let these Igbos SEE the immorality in Orji kalu’s action (Orji kalu is an ex-governor in the federal Republic of Nigeria-does it mean he did not know the meaning of tax and tax default when he was governor in an Igbo state?), some can ‘see” a bit. But Kalu is Igbo. he has to be defended by ALL means. His tax default and immoral tribal spining of it may now be “seen” but only a “bit” by the Igbos!

    3. But the ridiculous campaign thing is that an ex- Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the person of Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe who is in search of votes saw a major immorality against the nation in items 1(deliberate ethnic bigotry) and 2(tax default) above and decided to LIVE WITH THEM BY KEEPING QUIET? WHY? VOTES. HE MUST NOT “OFFEND” THE IGBOS WHO PDP ARE CULTIVATING FOR 2015.

    This is my question: Given the intense immorality in items 1,2,3 if these are going to be how we will frame Nigeria, someone wants me not to negotiate that kind of country? We have to. Senator Ogunlewe, we have noted your campaign speech.

  • DELE

    Drug addict abound these days by some Yoruba Outliers. This man is telling me that igbos in the 15 century left their village states, passed through numberous other villages in the east notoriously hostile to strangers, then passed Bini, Ondo, ekiti Ibadan and numerous other Yoruba city states (including ijebu) and settled in Lagos in the 15th century. Those days it would take no less than 3 months to travel such a distance and through hostile territory. Some people are ridiculous. He obviously wants a shot at a governorship position and he will not get any unless he runs in the east. Then he will experience what Banjo, Fajuyi and Soyinka experienced.

    Louts are about wanting to be heard.

  • Emma

    The sky is wide enough to accommodate any bird that actually wants to fly.

  • Femi jaiyeola

    I feel like throwing up.what manna of man is this senator Adeseye Ogunlewe? Thank God Fani-Kayode has given you the chance to start talking again.
    Of all the ibos you mentioned, how many of them where into illicit drugs,robbery, 419, kidnapping, fake this and that and so on.
    Better respect yourself before you hear your story.or what did you the original Yoruba do for lagos when you were in government.
    I visisted Lagos during sallah and wept for those staying between mangoro bus stop and sango ota a federal road and you were a federal minister of works.now you want ibo votes abi?
    If not for your age and that I was properly brought up I would have said you are silly.
    Nosence man.rubbish essay.

    • Meme meme

      Femi, why are you people disgracing d Yoruba race? I was born in Lagos island and I am frm Lagos state. I am very sure u r not from Lagos state. I live and work in Enugu state and I am married to an Igbo girl and we have 3 kids, we are living happily. Pls I am ashamed of your comments. Have u ever lived outside d South West? I know you have not? Traveling is a school of its own, u learn other ppls culture and know that there is life outside ur community. We the Yorubas started 419 in Lagos, Credit Card Fraud, Bank Fraud and Drugs smuggling in UK. Who runs Oluwole in Lagos Island? Yorubas. Pls let’s leave this issue and keep this country as 1 Nation. Pls don’t b small minded. Olalakan M.

      • Femi jaiyeola

        OIalakan.i am from abeokuta but was born in benin city did my secondary school in calaber and now reside in Abuja.
        My brother,I can confidently tell you that 70% of my friends and associates are ibos and am very proud to be associated with them but that is not to say I should in anyway agree that they own lagos or lagos is a no mans land.I am presently in ubakala village abia state as I write to attend my friends kid brother’s wedding.
        What am saying is that senator ogunlewe is in no position speak on issues like this because he has nothing to show as a son of the soil that he did for lagos when he was minister for works.even my dad who is not a lagosian but has lived there for 72years now has more to show.
        In as much as I like my ibo friends I have always told them to stop their habit of calling evil deeds business.
        An average ibo boy calls kidnapping, robbery etc business without shame.
        My brother, can u do any of such and be proud?

  • Salam Aro

    How are we sure Ogunlewe is not actually an abandoned Igbo child raised by a Yoruba family.