By Paul I. Adujie, New York
On Sunday, August 23, 2009, I read on the internet, a news report by one Samuel Aruwan reporting from Kaduna state in Nigeria. The news story related how full-fledged citizens of Nigeria, who were ordinarily resident in Lagos, were bundled and stripped of their properties and shipped from Lagos by the government of Lagos state and then, deposited and dumped in Kaduna, just like that.
This is an illegal act. It is an unconstitutional act, as it is equally immoral, and a very shameful and disgraceful act on the part of Lagos state. I can only hope that no other state in Nigeria follows this extremely foolish and illegal act as it is clearly a bad example
First, upon reading this most ill-conceived action by Lagos state, I was thrown into a state of suspended disbelief. The governor of Lagos state is a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria at that. This is particularly surprising because Mr. Fashola is a lawyer and the action he sanctioned, is obviously unconstitutional and illegal and plainly immoral and unjustifiable!
Mr. Fashola’s illegitimate action on this score, makes me wonder if he has misplaced his copy of the Nigerian constitution? How could a state governor order such action which flies in the face of decency, morality and constitutionality? What informed this offensive and discriminatory act?
The illogicalities, the illegalities, the unconstitutionalities in every sense of these, made me at first to wonder, if this news story is untrue. How can a state actually do this without wide outrage and outcry nationwide in Nigeria? Where is censure and reprimand for this kidnapping engineered by a state in Nigeria? Are some Nigerians so warped and twisted now, in our sense of what is legal, fair, decent and moral? Are we now so far in a state of anomie and beyond shock? Are some Nigerians now so shockproof even from the debased and most profane of conducts by public officials? When did we stop being our brothers and sisters’ keeper? What in the world has happened to our psyche?
Nigerians should ask the governor of Lagos state several questions to determine his “reasons” “rationale” for his decision to throw Molotov cocktails and live grenades into our already volatile state of national unity. Why did the governor and government of Lagos state decide to act as flamethrowers against our country?
I have lived in Lagos in the past and there was at that time, no physical fitness tests. No physical or fiscal inspections or determinations before a Nigerian could become a Lagosian, Lagos City used to be Nigeria’s New York City, Lagos welcomed all comers, all Nigerians. What changed? Why did Lagos engage in this opprobrium?
May Nigerians now be told, what the minimum income, and minimum wealth and minimum physical disability, which a Nigerian has to have to be accepted or tolerated as resident of Lagos state? What is the cutoff point, monetarily and in physical attributes for a Nigerian desirous of residency in Lagos?
What is the litmus test of physical dexterity and fiscal suitableness for Nigerians citizens who desire to make Lagos state their home state, regardless of ethnicity or “state-of-origin”? There had been press reports suggesting that the governor Fashola had commenced a rebirth and rehabilitation of Lagos into the much talked about megacity or megalopolis.
But cleaning and beautifying Lagos state or any state for that matter, certainly cannot be the poor excuse for abducting, kidnapping and bundling proven citizens of Nigeria, from whatever state of birth and dumping them outside of Lagos.
We know that money is tight in Lagos, in Nigeria and in fact, everywhere else in the world. But tight budget, tight finances cannot be the excuse, refusal or neglect by Lagos state to seek alternative solutions or other options to street begging.
Lagos would have had support if Lagos sought to rehabilitate beggars, Area Boys or the so-called street urchins, and as a consequence, Lagos created a shelter or even takes the extraordinary steps of creating a colony for such purpose within Lagos state.
Even so, it would be possible that some may see such measures as drastic, if not draconian. But, here we are faced with a much worse and much more drastically senseless abductions and kidnapping of some Nigerians as a policy of a unit of government in my federal republic. Tufia! Haba Lagos!
If these citizens had swine flu or some other disease determined to be contagious, even at that, no state government should abduct, kidnap and expel Nigerians from one state to the other. If infected persons or even livestock must be quarantined, such confinements must be undertaken within the state of established presence of such infected persons or livestock.
Bundling and expelling Nigerian citizens should never be contemplated by any sane Nigerian. This is class warfare too. This is class discrimination. This is a unique discrimination against Nigerians with disabilities. There ought to be a law against all discriminations, but, more particularly so, laws to punish those who would engage in the egregious discriminations of all, against disabled people who are not able to fend for themselves.
The “crimes” of these citizens of Nigeria, “deported” by Lagos state, is that they are poor and, on top of it, they have the misfortunes to be disabled or have disabilities. Would Lagos state or any state deport Dangote, Otedola or Iwuchukwu whether they were blind or quadriplegics on wheelchairs? No! They would react, Naira for Naira! with 100 Senior Advocates of Nigeria representing them.
Too much unpalatable news emanates from Nigeria and this dastardly act by Lagos state is just rank –rancid wrong-headed public policy. As I understand it, the governor of Lagos state is a lawyer, a nice urbane Nigerian, who is said to have done a lot for Lagos. Those accomplishments, if they are sustainable and not mere cosmetic, warrant the applause of all Nigerians.
All Nigerians must take strong exceptions, the strongest exceptions, to the malevolent treatments by Lagos state, meted out to bona fide citizens of Nigeria. Any citizen of Nigeria should have the right to live wherever or whichever part of Nigeria such Nigerian citizen chooses and prefers.
Such choice should be left to such Nigerian citizen regardless of wealth, health, ethnicity, state or region of origin or religion. Once a Nigerian has established proof of his citizenship, where he chooses to live should not be a discussable transaction by any branches of our government, be it local, state or federal.
No state, Lagos or Plateau or Edo or Anambra, should tell me where I can live within Nigeria. Lagos must not get away with this unconstitutionality and illegality, just so, no other state may in the future engage in this sort of mindlessness of the unhinged. Lagos should be fined. Governors who discriminate should be impeached and removed from office.
This is because these sorts of actions endanger Nigeria’s national security and national unity and cohesion. It is treasonable to endanger our national security. What if Kaduna retaliates and uses whatever criterion Kaduna may chose? Deport every college graduate from Lagos who lives in Kaduna? Or deport any Lagosian in Kaduna who weighs over 200 kilograms?
I am thoroughly embarrassed that there are some people here applauding the Lagos state government. Lagos should be ashamed. Those poor citizens deserve better than that from Lagos state and every other state in Nigeria… and from the federal government too. A citizen of Nigeria is a citizen of Nigeria, and therefore should be free to live where ever he/she chooses It is irrelevant whether such Nigerian is a billionaire or a destitute.
A good society, with human refinement, is judged or measured by how such society treats/handles/deals with her under-privileged citizens. Lagos state has just failed this acid test.
Citizenship in Nigeria should not be a fleeting and an ephemeral thing. My Nigerian citizenship should entitle me to equal protection in every part of Nigeria’s 36 federating states, and the Federal Capital Territory inclusive.