FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, January 1, 2021
babsarolambo@gmail.com
Dublin, The Republic of Ireland
REVISITING THE ISSUE OF SPECIAL STATUS FOR LAGOS STATE

“Lagos State was the first British Colony to be established in 1861 in modern-day Nigeria, followed by the protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria in 1900. Lagos colony, including Ikeja, Epe and Badagry divisions remained a separate administration from the two Protectorates or three Regions (1946-51) until 1951. Lagos was the centre of Nigerian politics until 1950.” – Alhaji Olufemi Okunnu

he fortuitous intervention of the British in eradicating slave trade on the West African Coast in the second quarter if the nineteenth century catapulted Lagos and its environs into a commercial and industrial enclave, yet unequalled anywhere in Nigeria. Also, the geographical Landmark of Nigeria Commences from the Atlantic Shoreline in Lagos. Thus, making the piece of land stretching from Lagos Island to Badagry as the first natural landmark known to the Colonialist. Therefore, the Incursions into other parts of the country started from here.

After the amalgamation exercise of 1914, Lagos attained the status of Nigeria’s political capital until 12th of December, 1991 when General Ibrahim Babangida hurriedly moved the capital to Abuja as a result of the botched Maj. Gideon Ngwozor Onkar coup of 1991.

Even before the transfer of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja, Lagos had attracted and accommodated significant number of other ethnic nationalities more than any other state in Nigeria. For instance the Northerners were almost more than the local residents in Agege, Idi-Araba and Obalende in addition to their significant presence in other Local Government Areas of the state. The Igbos from the Eastern States were significantly dominant and more than the local residents in Ajegunle, Amuwo-Odofin, and a large proportion of Alimosho LGA despite their spread into other parts of the state. The Ijaws and the Urobos of the South South plus a large proportion from the Cross River State are also visible in Amuwo-Odofin, Surulere and Badagry. The IJebus from Ogun State completely dominate almost a third of the entire Lagos State with their occupation of Ikorodu, Shomolu/Bariga and Epe LGA where the Ijebu of Epes were dominant and led by a separate monarch known as Olu of Epes. Their counterpart, the Egbas, also from Ogun State were dominant and more than the local residents in Agege, Alimosho and Mushin LGA areas.

The dilemma of these occupations is that the home states of all these massive ethnic nationalities still go to Abuja every month to collect their monthly fiscal allocation without expending a kobo on their massive residents who live in Lagos. It is therefore not an over-statement to state that Lagos state can lay claim to being a mini Nigeria where all ethnic nationalities can be found. Even Abuja with the status of being the federal capital and collecting a separate fiscal allocation cannot boast of caring for half of the burden being shouldered by Lagos state. Such burdens include all social facilities being made available to the families of all the ethnic groups and the education of their children.

In fact, Lagos has always been a melting pot in which all Nigeria’s ethnic groups melted harmoniously due to the unparalleled hospitality and open-mindedness of the mainly Yoruba ethnic indigenes of Lagos.

Population wise, Lagos had just 762.000 people in 1960 which eventually rose to 1.4 million in 1970. Currently, it is more than 20 million, which is widely believed to be more than Kano State that has 44 Local Government Areas while Lagos State is still stuck with just 20 recognized Local Government Areas. Various studies had concluded that by 2040, the population of Lagos State would reach 30 million and 88 million by the beginning of the 21st century.

Prior to the formal creation of Lagos State on May 27, 1967 until 28th of May, 2015, Lagos State had been governed by opposition Parties like the Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria, NRC, Alliance For Democracy and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), a situation that had unfortunately resulted in lack of necessary Federal support; and diversion of essential infrastructure to other Federal ruling Party-controlled States.

But now that the good people of Lagos State had wholeheartedly supported the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the federal level, this newfound rapport should be highly beneficial to Lagos State. In 2016, the Senator representing Lagos Central, Senator Oluremi Tinubu proposed a bill on special status for Lagos State, requesting for the promulgation of an act that would make provisions for federal grants to a state overwhelmed by population explosion. The said bill was overwhelmingly voted against because of the uncooperative countenance of the leadership of the last Senate and their supporters, who felt that the proposed bill was ill-timed. The then Governor Akinwunmi Ambode praised Senator Oluremi Tinubu for her courage, and lamented thus: “A special status and a special grant are fair requests that would have encouraged and rewarded Lagos State for what it contributes to the federal purse.

“A yes for the bill would have provided an opportunity to truly reflate the economy and empower Lagos State in serving as home to more than 21 million Nigerians and as hub to the largest volume of businesses and foreign direct investments in Nigeria. But clearly, a spectacular opportunity has been missed by ignoring this important bill.”

Consequently, since the last general election in 2019 ushered in a new and more amenable Parliament, i hereby humbly call on Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila and other Lawmakers from Lagos State to re-introduce the said bill to the Parliament. Again, it is also important to appeal to all parliamentarians of the federal republic of Nigeria, to please, always debate sensitive issues with verifiable facts and not sentiments or emotions. There is a great need to stop politicizing such a highly sensitive issue as this, otherwise, the future dire consequences would be unpalatable to all and sundry.

From the foregoing, it is therefore necessary to reemphasize why the 37 LCDAs were created by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration in 2003, purposely to ensure that economic development was evenly spread to every nook and cranny of Lagos State. The creation of the Development Areas was done as stipulated by the 1999 constitution, secured the backing of the Lagos State Council of Obas; and the full support of Lagos Residents.

Apart from granting the proposed special status, the federal Government should ensure that the Nigerian constitution recognizes some of the LCDAs; allocate and site mass housing projects in the state; proper maintenance of federal roads; deployment of more police personnel; and so on.

Evidently, the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos State and its status as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria had led to its over-population which the Federal Government cannot continue to ignore. It is the largest city in Africa and the fifth densest megacity in the world after Dhaka, Mumbai, Karachi and Manila. One of its Local Government Areas, Alimosho is the most populous in Nigeria with a population of 1,277,714 which is more than the combined population of 10 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.

LAGOS STATE AS THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGGS

There is no doubt that up till the present moment, Lagos state still remains as the economic and business hub of Nigeria. All facets of business, commerce and industry are still dominantly located in Lagos state, and contributing the highest income to the national coffers. But, this comes with its own load of millions of workers, both local and foreign who also reside in Lagos. Therefore with Lagos state contributing to and sustaining the economic buoyancy of Nigeria it should be qualified for special assistance. Also, the biggest ports landings (namely the Apapa and TINCAN Island ports) together with the massive aviation presence (the Muritala Muhammad International Airport at Ikeja) are all located in Lagos State. Their institutions also attract and employ workers from all tribes of the federation whose concomitant need of livelihood, social welfare services and the provision of education for their children puts enormous financial stress on the limited financial resources of the state. Therefore, the need for the federal government to accord Lagos state its special recognition becomes most imminent.

God Bless Lagos State!

God Bless Nigeria!!

And Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

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