From: Emma Njoku
Indigenes of Lagos State, under the aegis of Eko Foundation, have decried what they described as imbalance in the provision of infrastructure in the state as well as autocratic political landscape and oppressive attitude of the government towards them.
The group made its position known at a one-day symposium with the theme; “The Leading role of Lagos State in the development of Nigeria”, held at the weekend at the Lagos Airport Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, as part of activities to mark the on-going 50th anniversary of the State.
In his opening remarks, President, Eko Foundation, Prof. Imran Oluwole Smith (SAN), said the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration “should be a period of sober reflection and used to correct the imbalances rather than for mere jamboree.”
“Everybody, including the government, is aware that indigenes of this state are not being recognised. We are being marginalised. And it has got to a stage that we feel like strangers in our own fatherland, and that’s very bad.
“It’s not only bad morally, it also violates the relevant provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal Character Commission Act and relevant international conventions. What is happening in Lagos State today is an aberration; you can never find it in any other state, from Ogun State to Borno State. We feel what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Let’s have a level playing field,” he said.
Smith said while Eko Foundation recognises the contributions of non indigenes of the state, the indigenes should be recognised in the scheme of things.
“What we’re saying is indigenes should be giving appointments in government because this is our state. However, I must say this as president of Eko Foundation, that we stand for merit. We do not stand for mediocrity.We would only support and back an indigene of this state who merits a position; government should take note of that.”
In its communique issued at the end of the symposium, the assembly noted that “whereas, Lagos State has always taken the lead in the political, economic and socio-cultural aspects of development in Nigeria, government has to harness her strength towards improving the lots of the people of the State by eradicating hunger, poverty, illiteracy and disease as well as adjust the imbalances in the provision of infrastructure in the State. Government should also provide succour to the poor by making provision for truly affordable shelter for the teaming population and providing job opportunities for the unemployed.”
The assembly called on the government to put in place sustainable development plans towards the realisation of laudable socio-economic objectives of the State in the next 50 years.
The symposium drew attendance of eminent indigenes from of all walks of life including, Chief Olabode George; the Legal Adviser of APC, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN); General Adekunle Martins (rt.); Alhaji Lateef Olufemi Okunnu, SAN; Chief ‘Lai Ajayi-Bembe, many representatives of student bodies and other tertiary institutions.