By Eze Eluchie
One of the greatest frauds perpetrated on the peoples of Nigeria and the Nigerian federation is the conversion of Lagos from a Federal Territory to a State after the territory had served for almost a century as, first a Crown Colony, and then the Capital Territory of the Federal Republic.
Historically, at its inception, three territories, to wit: 1). the Crown Colony of Lagos (which later transformed to the Capital city of Lagos and then ultimately, Lagos State), 2). the Northern Protectorate and 3). the Southern Protectorates, were amalgamated to form Nigeria in 1914.
Lagos remained and served as the Federal Capital of Nigeria until 1967, when as part of ‘strategic’ efforts to restructure Nigeria and elicit primordial loyalties, it was transformed into a ‘State’ by the civil-war government of General Gowon.
It is tantamount to a fraud in the sense that people from all over Nigeria and beyond had converged on Lagos, developed it into what it is, in pursuance of the fact and under the pretext that it is a Federal Territory, only to have the territory surreptitiously converted to a State, as part of the tragic and divisive decisions made during the period of national turbulence in the late 60’s.
The repeated clamor for special funding and treatment of Lagos, similar to what the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja receives, emanating from several quarters inclusive of the present political leadership in Lagos, civil societies and the residents of the territory, is though quite justified considering that Lagos is indeed a Federal Territory, only realizable when Lagos is restored to its real status as a Federal Territory.
The restoration of the original status of Lagos as a Federal Territory will in addition to assuring increased access to federal funds as often requested by the various political leaders and residents of the State and clearly discernible from the enormity of problems faced by the territory as a result of concentration of diverse activities in the territory also enhance the status of the territory globally.
A proper designation of Lagos as a Federal Territory will in addition to addressing the special funding and other needs of the territory, also redress the injustice meted out to the various peoples of Nigeria by a hurried and irrational military fiat in 1967, also align our federal structure with similar federations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom where in addition to the Federal Capital Cities of Washington DC and London respectively, the federal/central government also directly administers other Federal territories.
The recent spate of unconstitutional ‘deportations’ of Nigerians from Lagos carried out by the ‘State Government’ controlling the affairs of Lagos on account of their ‘not being from Lagos’, and the continuing threat of the same government to return Nigerians (some of whom were born and lived their entire lives in the Lagos federal Territory) to the places of origins of their forebears, reminds one of the ongoing ‘indgene-settler’ crisis which has engulfed the City of Jos and its environs in Plateau State, resulting in thousands of causalities, a crisis which must not be allowed to reoccur anywhere else in Nigeria.
A return of Lagos to its original status as a Federal Territory, administered by a Minister of the Federal Republic and where all Nigerians have equal access to governance, protection and other benefits attributable to citizens of the Federal Republic in any other Federal territory, such as the Federal Capital territory (Abuja) will surely be a vital aspect of our efforts at National reconstruction.
The constant friction over ownership and management of Federal infrastructure and establishments, such as the Federal (sea and air ports), historical buildings and monuments, and a variety of other assets, located in Lagos originally on account of its status as a Federal Territory, will cease and the sense of loss of the fraud perpetuated in 1967 as a ploy to garner ‘support’ during the civil war era, will abate, if not cease entirely.
The present situation where national assets and resources located in Lagos on account of its original status as a Federal Territory are now either allowed to rot, taken over by a few or expropriated from the Federal Government into the purse of a few by cunning manipulation of so-called ‘Lagos State laws’ is anachronistic to any known sense of justice and must be stopped to ensure equity, justice and goodwill.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria rightly has one Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) and a Federal Territory (Lagos).
The present status of Lagos as one of the 36 component States of the Nigerian Federation should be reversed to the original and rightful status of Lagos as a Federal Territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Let us ensure a holistic restructuring and renegotiation of our contraption, to make it into a workable and livable Federation!
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