The Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu, is reluctant to clear the air on the anti-Igbo statements attributed to him on Sunday, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
During a courtesy visit by Eze Ndigbos (Igbo traditional rulers) in all the local governments in Lagos at the Oba’s palace, Mr. Akiolu reportedly said that the Igbos resident in Lagos should cast their votes for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Akinwunmi Ambode, or perish inside the lagoon.
PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters were not at the event where Mr. Akiolu spoke. But repeated efforts by this newspaper to reach the Lagos monarch on Monday for his reaction were unsuccessful.
When this newspaper called the Oba on his mobile telephone on Monday morning, his aide, who answered the call, said Mr. Akiolu was in a meeting and could not immediately respond to the matter.
Our reporter stressed the urgency of our enquiry and requested the aide to help pass our message to the monarch without delay.
He promised to do that after explaining that he (aide) was not competent to confirm or deny what the Oba said at the event.
But over two hours after our call, the Oba’s palace is yet to revert to us. Subsequent phone calls to the monarch’s telephone lines were unanswered.
However, four people, including a journalist, who were at the meeting at the Iga Idunganran palace on Lagos Island confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Akiolu indeed made the statements attributed to him.
One of those who was at the meeting said that after Mr. Akiolu ended his diatribe to the Igbo leaders, he walked out on them.
“When he came down the stairs to meet with us, he was already vibrating with anger,” said a source who preferred not to be named.
Gordian Ojiako, Eze Ndi-Igbo in Amuwo-Oriade, confirmed the incident adding that Mr. Akiolu said worse things to them before storming out of the room.
“It will be wrong to challenge him inside his palace,” Mr. Ojiako told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, adding that he was not yet ready to speak to journalists on the matter.
“We will go back and convene a meeting of Igbo stakeholders and respond to him appropriately.”
Mr. Akiolu had reportedly dared the Igbo chiefs to go against his wish in the forthcoming governorship election and face his wrath.
“On Saturday, if anyone of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me,” major national newspapers quoted the monarch as saying.
“Jonathan is my son and I speak to him everyday. By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future.
“On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water.
Mr. Ambode of the APC and Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are the two major contenders in the governorship election holding on April 11 across the country.
Last year, Mr. Akiolu had endorsed the candidature of Mr. Ambode, urging Lagosians to cast their votes for him.
But there are indications that the Igbos resident in Lagos will, like they did in the presidential election, vote massively for the PDP.
In the presidential election, the APC defeated the PDP by 160,000 votes, with a huge chunk of the latter’s votes coming from Igbo dominated areas.
The PDP also won three House of Representatives’ ticket in Lagos – all of them in areas where the Igbos have a majority population.
Mr. Akiolu reportedly said he would not beg the Igbos in Lagos to cast their votes for the APC candidate.
“I’m not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he cannot be governor in Lagos for now,” he said.
“The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, don’t do it here. If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you. If you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.”
The monarch noted that Mr. Ambode would continue the progress and development of the state.
“I am for the progress, growth and development of Lagos. Ambode is highly cerebral, he’s a symbol and he is going to deliver the message which I, the Oba of Lagos, have said. And he will govern the state for another eight years,” he said.
“He is going on a mission and God will give him the wisdom and knowledge to fulfill that mission. Almost a year ago, I declared that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos and it will not change.
“From time immemorial, the previous occupiers of this house will say what they wanted after consultations with other people. And this hasn’t changed and it will not change at this time.”
Mr. Akiolu further said that Lagos is poised to regain all it had lost since Independence, adding that Mr. Ambode’s administration would be a government of progress.
“And because of Ambode, I went to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and I gave all the groups there $250, 000 to pray for Ambode. So how can I say something and some people will go against it?”
“For the Igbos and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos head to. When they were coming to the state, they didn’t come with all their houses. But now they have properties in the state. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God.”
Responding, Mr. Ojiako promised Mr. Akiolu that the Igbos would support the APC in the gubernatorial election in the state.
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“The mistake of last Saturday was caused by everybody, not only the Igbos. It is not only the Igbos that were responsible for the votes. But we have learnt our lesson. Saturday’s election is going to be a different thing and Ambode is going to win,” Mr. Ojiako, who spoke on behalf of the Igbo Chiefs, reportedly said.
“Everybody knows that when you fail the first time, you cannot afford to fail again. We are going to tell our people that Ezes from the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas are here and that we have sworn with the Oba that we are going to make sure that Ambode wins next Saturday’s election.”