• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Why Lagos deserves a special status in today’s Nigeria, by Shasore

Unless Lagos is accorded its well-deserved special status in Nigeria as has been advocated in recent times, it would be increasingly difficult for the state to continue to play its role as the economic and socio-cultural epicentre of the federation.

Olasupo Shasore, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former Lagos State attorney-general and commissioner for justice, stated this in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay at the weekend.

Shasore, who spoke extensively on his new book entitled ‘Possessed – A History of Law and Justice in the Crown Colony of Lagos, 1861-1906’, said it was getting more and more difficult for Lagos to sustain its crucial role in Nigeria because of the rate of migration into the state occasioned by the abundance of opportunities or the relative presence of opportunities, infrastructure and gainful livelihood in the state.

“It is a serious burden on the infrastructure of Lagos; it is a burden on the resources available as a result of increasing population. The population of Lagos in 1850 was about 20,000; in 2014, it is 20 million without any additional economic support from the central pool of resources that this country has,” he said.

“The attitude of treating all states and all areas of Nigeria the same way without looking at our comparative advantages and supporting them is going to make it difficult for Lagos to sustain that special role in Nigeria’s today,” he added.

Shasore said colonial Lagos had a lot of lessons to teach modern-day Nigeria, particularly in the area of unity.

“There was unity irrespective of what the origins of the Lagosians of the time were; that unity was what allowed them to survive the exercise of colonisation. The lack of sub-ethnic nationalities, the lack of prejudices, discriminations and bigotry in colonial Lagos is a lesson that modern-day Nigeria can learn. The phrase that I like is that there was unity in their diversity in those days. In Nigeria today, we need to take a leaf from that,” he said.

On the central message of the book, Shasore said he hoped the book would have more than one message, adding, however, that essentially he wanted to emphasise the uniqueness of Lagos, the fact that its contribution to the creation of Nigeria could no longer be glossed over.

“There were two events in Lagos without which there might not be any Nigeria today. If the Lagos colony had not been established in 1861, if Lagos had not been attacked, bombarded during the five-year war, maybe there might not be any Nigeria today. So when we say that Lagos is unique, it is not because we are seeking for people to accept us, we are making a statement of historical fact that Lagos is special, a consequence of its status,” he said.

“So when we agitate in modern-day Nigeria that the special status of Lagos be accorded certain economic privilege, certain economic support for its contribution and place within the Nigerian economy and within Nigeria’s socio-cultural context, that is the reason. And I hope that this book will assist people to appreciate that it is not just a whimsical statement; it is actually a statement based on a lot of contexts and a lot of circumstances that can no longer be changed,” he added.