Reactions in the last few days have been trailing the revelation by Mudashiru Obasa, the speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, that the parliament would pass new property, and business ownership laws in the state.
The speaker, who revealed the assembly’s plan in his acceptance speech as a third-term speaker of the Lagos parliament and the inauguration of the 10th Lagos Assembly recently, added that the laws would seek to protect the interest of Lagos indigenes.
“There would be laws,” he said, adding that the laws would be in the areas of economy and commerce, property and titles, “and we will reverse all that is reversible to protect the interest of the indigenes.”
This revelation, coming from the first lawmaker in Lagos, a metropolitan state, has sparked reactions from Nigerians who allege that the state might be well on a path of vendetta against people from some sections of the country generally perceived to be ‘political enemies’ of the state.
Obasa also noted that Lagos was a Yoruba land as against the assertions of some people that it was a ‘no man’s land, adding, “Therefore, part of our legislative agenda is to ensure the translation of laws passed by this House to the Yoruba language; the new land and property laws only favour indigenes.”
David Hundeyin, a social commentator, on Twitter wondered why the speaker would come up with such a stand when, according to him, “Obasa’s son who happens to be my good friend and former classmate, lives in Canada, where he is also a homeowner.”
Continuing, Hundeyin, said, “Something I really can’t hack about the Nigerian psyche is how Tunji will leave Nigeria to settle down in Ontario and buy a house which he fully understands is now his, but Tochukwu will buy a house in Lagos and Tunji will start screaming “the Igbo people are taking our land.”
While another Nigerian who introduced himself on Twitter as Delegate Simon pointed to section 42 of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees every citizen freedom from discrimination based on ethnic or religious identity, @Irunnia warned that “if this starts in Lagos, it will also happen in other states and this will further cause division in Nigeria.”
On his part, Chimaobi Kanu, another social commentator, also warned that states should not make laws that would not attract people. “Immigration is a gesture of faith in social mobility. It is the expression in action of a positive belief in the possibility of a better life. It has thus contributed greatly to developing the spirit of betterment in Lagosians,” he said.
Olufunso Onaiyekan, a political analyst, told BusinessDay that there was a possible correlation between the planned laws and the 2023 presidential and governorship elections. He recalled how many residents of Lagos were divided along ethno-political and religious lines during the elections.
“In the presidential and governorship elections, particularly, many Igbos supported the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) for the presidential and state governorship elections respectively,” he said.
“But, this development met with reactions after the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, lost Lagos to Peter Obi of the LP on February 25,” he added.
Onaiyekan reasoned that, though it is difficult to establish that the coming laws would be targeted at any particular ethnic group in Lagos, “we can hazard some deductions because we know those who are into business and buy property the most in Nigeria.”