Coalition of South East groups and Indigenous Lagosians galvanised through the full support of the South East Revival Group (SERG), under the aegis of the Concerned True Igbo Stakeholders, Indigenous Lagosians and Non-indigines in Lagos State on Wednesday endorsed the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour ahead of the March 18 election in the state.
Alongside some civil society organisations in Lagos State, the mega endorsement took place during a restricted media briefing in Lagos State by the President and National Coordinator, South East Revival Group (SERG), Chief Willy Ezugwu.
The groups urged Igbos, other Non-indigines, indigenous Lagosians and all residents of the state to come out en-masse and vote for the candidates of their choice on Saturday, saying that they are “aware that a few compromised Igbo leaders, including some in Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State, have collected money against their conscience to sway the votes or look the other way while the election is rigged.
“This is the time to let them know that not all Lagosians are for sale! Money won’t change anything! How much can compensate for another four years of bad governance and destruction of properties?” in the state.
The full text of the press briefing reads:
Gentlemen of the press,
Ladies and gentlemen,
You are all warmly welcome to this all-important press conference on the current political reality in Lagos State, where the Igbos have been singled out by some tribal bigots for attack and all manner of threats to dissociate true Igbos in Lagos from a self-seeking position of some ill-advised faceless persons who recently took a stand on behalf of Ndigbo with regards to the Saturday’s gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
Specifically, it became very imperative to rightly place one Peter Claver Oparah and two others who took it upon themselves to arogate to themselves as the mouthpiece of Igbos in Lagos.
According to the group of three, they claimed that Igbos living in Lagos, made up of traditional rulers, market leaders, market women, youths, civil society organizations, town unions and other categories of Igbo population in Lagos State, purportedly endorsed and pledged support to the incumbent Governor of Lagos, His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in his re-election bid.
The group went on to claim that their support for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was “anchored on his performance, competence, cordial relationship with Igbos and his grand vision for Lagos, which has greatly favoured Igbos in the last four years.”
The question is: Where has the Governor been since Igbos are being targeted for attacks, including setting their wares and properties on fire in markets in Lagos?
The Governor, whom they claimed to have had a cordial relationship with the Igbos in Lagos, is yet to arrest and show any form of diligence in prosecuting persons who attacked non-Yorubas, particularly Ndigbo, during the Labour Party presidential campaign rally in Lagos State.
The group naively went on to argue that “Lagos is neither an Igbo State nor a no-man’s land, as some provocatively state.”
The question is: Is there any Igbo contesting in the forthcoming governorship election in Lagos State? Was there at any time that Igbo took arms against the Yorubas to dislodge them in Lagos?
The group ended up fanning the embers of tribalism and sowed a seed of discord between the Igbos and the Yorubas who have been living harmoniously over the years.
The cordial relationship between the Yorubas and the Igbos led to intermarriages, with several sons and daughters of such unions dotting every segment of the Yoruba and Igbo communities.
We emphatically state that Igbos and Yorubas are not at war over the forthcoming governorship election.
Having established that fact, we wish to state categorically that Igbo living in Lagos State have been taxpayers and have continued to contribute to the economic well-being of Lagos State due to their ingenuity and business mindedness.
Therefore, the continued profiling of Igbo people, and other non-Yorubas, living in Lagos State is unacceptable. This political gimmick of an obviously sinking administration of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu will come back to hunt every Lagos resident in years to come.
Right now, the post-election safety of Igbos and all other non-Yorubas living in Lagos State is worrisome due to the current unwarranted politically motivated attacks on Igbos in Lagos State.
We then call on all Lagosians, especially the Igbos, to vote their conscience. We’re aware that a few compromised Igbo leaders, including some in Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State, have collected money against their conscience to sway the votes or look the other way while the election is rigged. This is the time to let them know that not all Lagosians are for sale! Money won’t change anything! How much can compensate for another four years of bad governance and destruction of properties.
For the avoidance of doubts, the issues that will determine whether or not the incumbent Governor returns are:
1. Assurance to the non-Yoruba residents of Lagos State that their lives and property will be guaranteed after the election.
2. Persuading Yorubas resident in Lagos, who have been dying in silence since 1999 when Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu took over Lagos State and turned it and all that are therein, into a personal estate.
3. Getting the buy-in of true Lagosians, whose ancestral lineage are traceable to Lagos parents to support the incumbent Governor.
Among the three categories of Lagos State residents, the born-Lagosians are the most wounded and most troubled since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu took over Lagos State from them and denied them every opportunity to emerge as Governor of the state as most anointed candidates for the governorship of Lagos State were not Lagosians with traceable ancestors in the state.
Clearly, these are the three categories of Lagos residents who have opted to support the Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour in the forthcoming coming Lagos State elections.
We commend leaders of other opposition political parties, including Elder Bode George, whose efforts in the struggle for good governance in Lagos State has remained glaringly unquestionable.
And for the fact that the incumbent has not demonstrated enough political will to protect the non-Yoruba residents of Lagos State, we therefore call on all Igbos and other non-Yorubas in the state to voter en masse fo the Labour Party governorship candidate and all other candidates of the party in the state House of Assembly election on Saturday. This is the only way to guarantee that a Governor who will protect them from the ongoing attacks and arson against Igbos and other non-indigenes.
We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for the level of security during the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, which created enabling environment for Nigerians to troop out to cast their ballots without fear or favours.
Therefore, for the safety of the non-Yoruba voters, including the Hausa communities in Lagos State, the gubernatorial election on Saturday requires special attention in terms of adequate security in view of the attacks against voters on February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
Long Live Lagos State!
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!
Chief Willy Ezugwu,
President and National Coordinator,
South East Revival Group (SERG), on behalf of the Concerned True Igbo Stakeholders, Non-indigines And Civil Society Organisations in Lagos State.
March 15, 2023.