Gov. Babatunde Fashola
In 1859 Charles Darwin published his epoch making book ‘the Origin of Species’, after years of in-depth scientific studies in different parts of the earth journeying on the Beagle. One key catchphrase which he used to describe ecological interactions between the species he studied was ‘the survival of the fittest’, with which he explained how species survive or die off in the face of scarce natural resources.
A process which he called natural selection. I am sure Mr. Darwin would have used stronger terms if he were to describe today’s global economy where we have seven billion people scrambling to survive in the face of even scarcer means and economic conditions. The species Darwin studied at least were able to move freely within the ecosystem.
Today’s Homo Sapiens are denied that natural right within the global ecosystem. Political borders have restricted migration from areas of scarcity to lands of plenty. The US Congress are in continuous debates on how best to clamp down their borders and ensure no ‘illegal immigrant’ comes into a country that was built and is peopled entirely by immigrants. The British Parliament was arguing a few days back on the advertised number of ‘illegal immigrants’ arrested by authorities.
Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats distanced themselves from that. China has always been a country kept under lock and key opened only to those coming with cash to buy from their overproducing factories. Every day we hear of Nigerians being deported from Malaysia and other countries. It goes on. One begins to wonder what exactly is an illegal human being.
While we are still contending with these issues on an international level, Mr Fashola, a Senior Advocate in the Nigerian Bar, who swore to uphold the Constitution of Nigeria that guaranteed freedom of every citizen to go or live wherever he deems fit within the country, embarks on a statewide deportation of his fellow Nigerians to their states of origin.
Dumping 70 in Anambra in one fell swoop! His reason: they were destitute… how sad! Littered all over Nigeria are beggars, not just destitute people, from Niger Republic whose young children will tug at your clothes and follow you around until you part with something. Nobody has bothered to round them up and dump them at Sokoto borders with orders to run back to their country.
Yet Fashola had the temerity to pack his fellow countrymen in a bus and send them to wherever they came from. Their only offence was that they were poor, so why should they be in Lagos showing their suffering faces in a city Fashola has laboured so hard to clean up. This action throws in Fashola’s face a lot of questions, which the entire country await his answers.
Is it that there is no destitute of Lagos origin? Of course there are, in hundreds if not thousands. Has Fashola provided decent alternatives for them all to the point that the only indigent people bothering him are those from other states? How come the people labelled destitute and deported were only from the Eastern part of the country?
Why would Fashola even begin to sort out the indigents from other states in the first place? He even went ahead to write his counterparts in some other states asking them to come carry their destitute indigenes out of Lagos State.
Is it possible that a leader of Fashola’s education, elected by a cosmopolitan city like Lagos, (probably also voted for by the same destitute people), inhabited by people from all walks of life, has not been able to rise above such petty discriminations as state of origin.
In a time we are debating whether indigeneship should be expunged entirely from our dictionary and replaced with citizenship! I am sure the millions of Nigerian citizens from other states whose reviewed PAYE tax are going into the pockets of Lagos State Government would have shuddered in revulsion at the break of this news.
Fashola probably needs to understand that since the British established Lagos as Crown Colony, the city is no longer the exclusive preserve of indigenous Lagosians any more than America belongs to the West Indians or Australia belongs to the Aborigines.
Everybody there is there to contribute his own quota to the development of the state, and any social problem they are facing will be solved by their government and not exported to other states. Moreover Lagos State has had its due share of the national commonwealth from when it had been Federal Capital till date that it still gets a giant chunk of Federal allocations.
I have so far spoken with great care not to exude sentiments of the Igbo marginalization angle, which is where the protractors of this debacle are responding from.
However it is very vital that we point out that poor people coming to Lagos with little or nothing and being homeless until they can find something doing to make themselves more comfortable is not a sole Lagos issue. It is rather the much-decried rural-urban migration, which is plaguing the country as a whole.
And the affected people are not to blame rather our government from time past, which has not provided much for its people in terms of social amenities and enabling economic environment. The people we are deporting today are only the victims of our years of misrule, which even the present democratic experiment has offered little recompense.
They are only migrating to where there is a higher concentration of economic resources so that they can also compete in their own niche for scarce resources lest they die and become extinct according to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
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