In what is looking like the beginning of a brewing Nigerian-made xenophobic crisis, youths in Lagos, especially those from the Yoruba extraction of the country took to the streets in an angry protest yesterday, warning that the Igbos in the state should respect their cultural values and heritage or vacate their land, while rejecting the popular notion that Lagos, the commercial capital of the country is “no man’s land.”
During the protest which went on for hours, pamphlets and handbills were distributed by the protesters to passersby and anyone who cared which warned that the Yoruba people have had enough insult from the Igbos and that “Enough was enough!” While the protesters carried placards that had inscriptions such as, “Igbo People: Respect our Oba, culture or we’ll kick you out,” “Attack on Dr Adeniran Ariyo is attack on Yoruba people,” “Yoruba own Lagos, create ya own Lagos in Igboland, No Dispute,” “Lagos (Eko) is not No Man’s Land,” “Igbo, Stop attack on Yoruba culture,” “Oba of Lagos is spirit and value of Lagos. Show respect,” etc.
The protest is widely seen as a retaliatory effort to send a message to the Igbos in the US, who laid siege on the business outfit of Dr Ariyo Abraham Adeniran, a renowned cardiologist, based in Dallas, Texas in the United States. It was reported sometime last month during the xenophobic crisis in South Africa, that the said Dr. Ariyo had called for the massacre of Igbos in Nigeria in this statement posted by him on his facebook page:
“You see how they (the Igbos) are being slaughtered in South Africa. That’s what’s going to happen to them in Lagos…When are they (the Igbos) not going to be slaughtered in Abuja?…God might have put a curse on them (the Igbos)…We will continue to bus them (the Igbos) to Onitsha.” – Dr. Abraham Ariyo.
For several hours, the protesters prevented workers and clients of Emzor pharmaceutical Company from gaining entrance into the vast premises.
Yoruba youths groups such as, Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC), Oodua Women Renaissance, (OWN) and the Pan-Yoruba National Alliance, (PAYNA), where among the groups leading in the mass protest.
Mr. Araoye Akinwunmi, who is the leader of one of the groups told the crowd that had gathered at the entrance of Emzor company, located on Aswani Road, Isolo area of Lagos that the Yorubas have had enough. He said:
“This is a symbolic rally to warn against the assault on Yoruba heritage. We are sick of people who trample on our heritage even though they make their millions on our territory”
“We are here as indigenous Yoruba people, speaking for over 50 million Yoruba people in Nigeria and abroad. On behalf of the Pan-Yoruba National Alliance, (PAYNA), we hereby express our disgust at the continuous insult being passed on the integrity and heritage of Yoruba people namely, ‘that Lagos is a no man’s land. These past few months, we have listened to this statement being propagated mainly by natives of a section of the country living in Lagos,” he concluded.
Also speaking, the leader of Pan-Yoruba National Alliance (PAYNA), Prince Martins Adeleke, said they believe that many more protests, probably even more violent ones will come.
“More will come. Our actions will be determined by the proportional response to our demand that if you are living in Rome, you must respect the Pope. If you are living in Yoruba land, you must show respect to our age-long values and our cherished heritage.
“Our reaction will be slow, but steady. But one fact is that we are at a loss as to why those that do not share boundary with us suddenly realize that Lagos is no longer Yoruba land and must be claimed by them as an extension of their fatherland.
He went on to say, “For instance, in the continuous siege placed on the office of Dr. Ariyo Adeniran, a renowned Cardiologist in Dallas, Texas, in the United States of America. Thousands of our Igbo people all over the world have been waging war against this innocent Yoruba person whose offence was that he supported the outcry of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu that anyone who supports the retrogression of Lagos will be consumed by the goddess of the sea.
“This is uncharitable! It is anti-culture! As Yoruba people, we have been quite hospitable. We have a history that has reigned for thousands of years; we have a heritage that stood the test of time. We are used to seeing fellow human beings as allies in development. This has been our guiding principle.
“As a people we, have a lot of respect for our traditional rulers. We have a lot of respect for our Obas. They occupy a special place in our history and in our spirit. We therefore, feel deeply concerned about the current desecration of our traditional institutions by those who religiously and jealously guard their own. This assault may not necessarily represent the mindset of all of the people concerned, but we are at a loss at the silence of conspiracy of their leadership on the conscious attempt to undermine the heritage of the Yoruba people.”
On their part, the Oodua Women Renaissance, (OWN) which were present at the rally, said that they were going to stop the Igbos businesses in Lagos if the attacks on Yoruba at home and abroad continues, obviously referring to the Dr. Ariyo Adenran’s saga.
What do you think about this development? Do you foresee a xenophobic war unfolding in Nigeria or will it be another full-scale civil war?