When the Igbo want to make a queer analogy to a brilliant brain gone insane or, a beautiful woman gone mad, they often make reference to “Omalicha udala (Yoruba agbalumo) daba n’nsi” (Beautiful African cherry that fell into excrement.) It is likened to a cup of clean water held by a leprous hand; a beautiful ripe orange infested with disgusting maggots.
This is what the Ijebu Ode-born Lagos immigrant, Bayo Onanuga, once a celebrated journalist, co-founder of TheNews magazine, current publisher of Lagos evening PM News and former Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) currently stands for in personality definition in Nigeria.
For this man who should by now be regarded as an icon of Nigerian journalism to open his agbado-eating mouth to cast aspersions on the Igbo in Lagos State by stating to wit among other nauseating statements: “LET 2023 BE THE LAST TIME IGBOS INTERFERE IN LAGOS POLITICS”, is not only the height of tinkering political stupidity but the proof that the king has gone naked in the village square. Bayo Onanuga has proved one fact: that in spite of his many years experience as a frontline Nigerian journalist he remains comically bereft of not only the political history of Lagos but the long history of Igbo-conviviality in nearly all spheres of life in the modern Nigerian State.
The Igbo have never been in competition with the Yoruba; rather each group complimented the other in nearly every aspect of cross and inter-ethnic associations. The Igbo do not also say that Lagos State is a no-man’s land because Lagos State has its indigenes which the likes of Bayo Onanuga, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Sanwo-Olu are not members; rather it is non-Lagos Yoruba immigrants like Bayo Onanuga, that are telling the indigenes that their Lagos State is a no-man’s land. The only sins the Igbo appear to have committed in Lagos State are first, being overwhelmingly Christians which overtly irritates the Jihadist Oba Rilwan Akiolu; and second, boldly supporting a true Lagos State indigene to reclaim their ancestral mandate as the owners of the land, otherwise the Igbo are not saying they want to be Governor of Lagos State.
I had thought Bayo Onanuga to be a fine gentleman of the Fourth Estate with a kin sense of moral judgment; unfortunately, his recent iniquitous utterances of hate against the Igbo because of the shameless need to protect his morsel of bread from Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s immoral political table have proved him to be the direct opposite of what I had thought him to be.
I know some older generations of journalists in Nigeria learnt journalism apprentice-style; like an apprentice motor-mechanic learning the trade through his master, but I never knew Bayo Onanuga belongs to the group. He has just proved to Nigerians that his knowledge of journalism is predicated on “cut and sew” mentality— a mentality prodigally constructed on a revolving clownish sense of servitude for survival rather than profitable creative sense of judgment. One can therefore understand why he was not able to properly manage his TheNews magazine outfit, only to degenerate to the very low-level of running an unviable local motor park evening newspaper. Were the Igbo in Lagos again the reason his failure in the business of journalism?
Just look at the legion of Yoruba elite class in Lagos State; none of the members spares his precious time questioning the frivolous concoction by Bayo Onanuga and his addle-brained cohorts that the Igbo say Lagos is a no man’s land because they have what it takes to mutually compete with their Igbo counterparts at any corporate and intellectual level. It is only among the horde of Yoruba failures in business and which Bayo Onanuga and M. C. Oluomo belong that such infantile evil fabrication can be heard; those who often see the Igbo as the cause of their failures and rejection by their society.
Take for instance my status as an immigrant settler in Lagos State. I am Igbo from Ibusa in Delta State, part of defunct Midwest Region renamed Bendel State, which was created out of Western Region in 1963, which Lagos was part until 1954 when the Fulani oligarchy pressurized the British Colonial administration during the 1953 London Constitutional Conference to remove from Western Region, against Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s stiff opposition. In the same vein, Bayo Onanuga hails from Ijebu Ode which formed part of the same Western Region until the creation of Ogun State. So I am on the same page of immigrant settlers in Lagos State, ethnic factor notwithstanding.
Up to the point Lagos was 076840705 from Western Region the people of Midwest Region contributed their resources to the development of Lagos. So the likes of Bayo Onanuga has no greater right in Lagos than somebody like me, except their clandestine manipulation of common Yoruba ethnicity to cower the real Lagos indigenes into sheepish submission to their domination. Similarly, when Lagos became a special Federal Territory in 1954 its development became the joint concern of the three, later four Regions, which made its subsequent development the collective efforts of all the geographical Nigeria. Thus it is shameful that such a supposed renowned journalist as Bayo Onanuga would join the anti-Igbo fray shamefully instigated by marked political Yoruba drug addicts.
Moreover, Bayo Onanuga who was born in Ijebu Ode and the likes of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babajide Sanwo-Olu who were born respectively in Osun and Ogun States migrated to Lagos to seek greener pastures like every other Igbo immigrant. The issue here is has an Igbo immigrant from Imo State in Onitsha the audacity to tell a Yoruba immigrant from Ogun State living in the same Onitsha that he has no right to vote for his choice of Candidate in a General election in Anambra State? This impunity will never stand the test of time.
Does Bayo Onanuga know with his unlearned sense of journalism that from January 1, 1954 to January 1966 when Major General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi appointed Major Mobolaji Johnson the Administrator of Lagos Federal Capita Territory, and subsequently Governor on its elevation as a State, all the previous Federal Ministers of Lagos Federal Capital territory were Fulani appointed by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of Northern Region.
Bayo Onanuga if not formally literate in history should have been told by his mother in political folktales that Lagos indigenes throughout the first Republic voted for NCNC, a political party led by the Igbo-born Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, against Action Group, a political party led by the Yoruba-born Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In fact in the political history of Lagos State, it was in 1979 that the people of Lagos voted for Chief Obafemi Awolowo for the first time. So let comic Fulani political slaves like Bayo Onanuga and his miscreants not think that the Igbo and the indigenes of Lagos State have not been in political alliance before 2023.
I have always stated and I will continue to state it with the least equivocation. I have unrivalled respect for the Yoruba ethnic nation more than any ethnic group in Nigeria, including my Igbo ethnic group. I have a lot of very close friends of Yoruba ethnic extraction who I can hand an AK-47 rifle and ask them to follow me behind and I will not fear they might shoot me. Political nincompoops like Bayo Onanuga will never change my indelible positive comprehension of the Yoruba personality.
In my many years of close dealings with Yoruba people as university schoolmates, university academic colleagues, civil society activists, political allies and mentors, I have come to appreciate one profound characteristic of the Yoruba personality. Although Robert LeVine defined the Yoruba as the most urbane ethnic group in Nigeria; they however go beyond that. The Yoruba are the most humane and conquerable Nigerian ethnic group by the will of trust. Prove to the average Yoruba man or woman that you can be trusted and he or she will always be there for you. Particularly if you are an Igbo, prove to the Yoruba that you are principled and can be trusted.
Apart from the fact that a Yoruba friend of my father against all odds, saved his life in Bauchi during the 1966 pogrom against the Igbo, my aunt Mrs. Victoria Dada Bolaji (nee Enenmo) has been happily married to a Yoruba from Okitipupa for over forty years. Similarly, countless men and women in my home town—Ibusa are married to Yoruba women and men respectively. May be Bayo Onanuga will also announce that 2023 will be the last time Igbo and Yoruba should marry each other, or attend the same Churches.
The greatest of all my political mentors was the late founder and leader of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) Dr. Fredrick Faseun who initiated me into the movement’s high command right from the organization’s official Congress at Ibadan, without considering the fact that the organization has exclusive Yoruba objectives. May be Bayo Onanuga will also be informed that Dr Faseun’s only daughter and a medical doctor is married to an Igbo. It remains for Bayo Onanuga to decree automatic divorce for every Yoruba married to an Igbo.
This might be funny but true; my most romantic and trusted girlfriends have been Yoruba women who remain the most modest and least costly to take care of among all Nigerian women. Perhaps, Bayo Onanuga should as well decree that Igbo and Yoruba men and women should not befriend themselves starting 2023.
My only regret is that this nonsense is happening after the death of my most respected revolutionary godfather Dr. Fredrick Faseun; otherwise “who born both Bayo Onanuga and Ahmed Bola Tinubu for Lagos?” But I also blame the Igbo for their crop of bad leadership who lack strategic political hindsight, always concerned with the amount of money they will make for the moment without the equation of political power.
If somebody had gone to the leaders of the burnt Akerele motor spare-parts market to intimate them of the impending danger, they would have branded such a person a beggar. It should be recalled that some of us based on our privileged connection with OPC factions were informed of the plan to attack the Igbo on the day of the election immediately after the Presidential election. I quickly reached out to the Administrative Secretary of Ndigbo Lagos Mr. Kalu Onuma who knows me very well, to see how to arrest the situation. He promised to call me which he never did. Tomorrow the same man would come out to condemn the same attack he failed to put up effort to stop.
Be that as it may, the Igbo and other ethnic groups who were attacked and prevented from voting for their preffered candidates not only in Lagos State but also Rivers State and other States of the Federation, should proceed to High Courts whether State or Federal if not in Lagos State because of the possible bias of the Judges, in other States of the Federation to seek the leave of the courts to fulfill their fundamental rights of voting in the elections as Nigerian citizens and by extension institute injunctions against the swearing in of any person as the Governors of the concerned States. Those physically attacked and injured in the course of the attacks should get their medical reports ready in preparation for legal actions for damages against the known instigators of the attacks.
In addition, multiple petitions to the United Nations Secretary General, ICC, the Governments of the United States, major European countries and their legislatures should be initiated immediately with video clips and snap-shots of the episodes against the INEC Chairman, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Sonwo-Olu, Nyesom Wike, Bayo Onanuga, M. C. Oluomo and the Commissioners of Police of the concerned States.
If these satanic politicians don’t want democracy in Nigeria again, then let the military immediately intervene and take over the government. After all the military comes not against the people but against these evil politicians. And I am beginning to believe that Nigerians are better off with military governments than with this satanic bundle of evil men miscalled political leaders. This impunity must therefore be stopped in time, otherwise we may be compelled to invite the military to take over the Government and let us see between the people and these evil politicians who will suffer more.
•Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD is
Odogwu of Ibusa & Combatant Political Historian
Research [email protected], Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
International Coordinator, Nigerian Diaspora Council for Defence of Democracy (NDCDD)
Email: [email protected]