In a move to quell the controversy generated by the recent statement of the Oba of Lagos to the Igbo community in Lagos, the Opeluwa of Lagos, Chief Lateef Aderibigbe Ajose has released a statement, seeking to clarify the supposed “misunderstanding” of the statement.
Yesterday, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, was reported to have summoned all the Eze-Ndigbo in the state to his palace and demanded that they support the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and to ensure that he emerges as the next governor of the state or face dire consequences which includes death in the lagoon. He is said to be angry because of the massive number of votes President Goodluck Jonathan got in Lagos, which was believed to have been majorly from the Igbo community in Lagos.
In his own words as authenticated by the audio file which has gone viral on the internet, he said:
“On Saturday, if anyone of you goes against Ambode, who I picked, that is your end. If it does not happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me.
“By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future. On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water.
“For the Igbos and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to. When they were coming to the state, they did not come with all their houses. But now, they have properties in the state. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God.
“I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi is my blood relation and I told him that he could never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere you cannot do it here.”
This statement, which has been described by many as a “hate” and “violence-inciting” speech, has been condemned by many Nigerians including Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who is the reason for the speech as he insists that “every ethnic group in Lagos” will be safe under him as governor.
However in a counter-move, Chief Lateef Ajose, who is the Opeluwa of Lagos has released a statement from the palace of the Oba of Lagos, which is trying to clarify the context in which the Oba had made the statement, while reassuring the people of the Oba’s commitment to a violent-free polls in the state, come Saturday, April 11.
The full text of his statement as reported by PremiumTimes reads as follows:
My attention has been drawn to a publication in a national newspaper, where HRM Oba Rilwanu Akiolu was alleged to have threatened Igbos in Lagos to make them vote for Ambode.
Last Sunday, all honorary Eze Ndigbos in Lagos paid a courtesy call to HRM Oba Akiolu. At the meeting the visitors praised the Oba for his fatherly support for and cooperation with Igbos in Lagos. They assured him of their continued good neighbourliness with other tribes in Lagos and support everything that will further strengthen that harmony.
Oba Akiolu on his part acknowledged the enviable performance of Governor Fashola and his contribution to the growth of investments in Lagos. He gave the assurance that he was not disturbed or angry with South-East and South- South votes for President Jonathan as perceived by the Eze Ndigbos. The Oba thereafter called on the Igbo chiefs to show appreciation to Lagos State by supporting his candidate Mr Ambode for continuity of excellence, as they have earlier promised.
He assured them of his continued support and assistance where needed and the meeting ended with the traditional breaking of kola nuts, alligator pepper, and bitter kola and pouring of liberation on the ground. It was within this context that the tradition of Lagos with regard to the lagoon came up. It was noted that ‘whoever works against the throne and the interest and peaceful co-existence of Lagos would end up in the lagoon as per tradition’.
Oba Akiolu stated further that the Igbo people have not betrayed the throne. Lagos has also not betrayed the Igbo people. Lagos has done so much to make the Igbos comfortable and to prosper. For this, we expect reciprocal respect and understanding. The Oba of Lagos prays that the Lagoon and the throne will continue to bless and protect all those who reside and visit Lagos.
Oba Akiolu is the father of all irrespective of tribe, religion or political persuasion. In Lagos, we have an old traditional proverb that relates to the Lagoon. The Lagoon is unique to Lagos. The proverb stresses the need for unity and understanding when you do business in an environment and in this case when you live and do business in Lagos.
Oba Akiolu prays for peace for the land of Lagos and prosperity for all its inhabitants.
Signed: Chief Lateef Aderibigbe Ajose, Opeluwa of Lagos