It is common in Nigeria for political jobbers and certified opportunists to unnecessarily play tribal and ethnic cards. Usually, the strategy is to pretend as defenders of the people, while indeed they have selfish considerations.
In Nigeria, Lagos remains a major melting point for all, irrespective of tribal and religious differences. There is no other State that has opened its doors to accommodate Nigerians of various shades as Lagos does.
This is the spirit of Lagos. It is this tradition that subsequent governments in the state has been building upon for years. The State government is motivated by a strong desire to build a State where everyone could productively earn a decent living, in a safe and secured environment. The main goal is to have a State where ethnic and tribal considerations count for nothing.
In Lagos State, in terms of strategic positioning, the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning is, perhaps, the most crucial of all the State’s MDAs. It is the ministry that priorities the expenditures of the State government. It is a testimony to the non tribal disposition of the State government that this all important agency was once, for eight years, under the leadership of Mr. Ben Akabueze, a professional banker and economist of Igbo descent. To further reinforce its non-tribal posture, the Lagos state government named a few of its housing estates as well as a Parks after prominent Nigerians like Chief Emeka Anyaoku and Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu respectively.
In the past nineteen years, Lagos has continued to show the way forward in its commitment to an indivisible Nigeria where no one is denied of opportunities for self actualisation on mundane considerations. The state’s primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities and, indeed, other such infrastructure remain accessible to all Nigerians without any discrimination. The State Security Trust Fund has continued to ensure the safety and security of every Lagos Resident. The public primary and secondary schools in the state have continued to open their doors to all Nigerian, irrespective of tribal and ethnic affiliations.
In Lagos state, excellence and competence remain major factors in the recruitment of its workforce. While some states employ or even retrench based on tribal considerations, Lagos state has simply continued its policy of absorbing qualified Nigerians into its Public Service. It is on record that sometimes ago a State in the South East disengaged ‘non-indigenes’ from its workforce. This has never been the case in Lagos State.
The relative peace being enjoyed in the state is a reflection of the unrelenting effort of the State government to accommodate various interest groups in the State. On a regular basis, the State government organizes stakeholders meetings with the leaders of the ethnic/tribal communities in the state to rub mind together on how to make Lagos a better place for all. Specifically, the State government has a healthy relationship with the various ethnic and tribal groups in the state. The result of this robust relationship is the atmosphere of peace and harmony that currently reign in the state.
The issues involved in the development of Lagos State and, indeed, Nigeria transcends ethnic and religious sentiments. The brotherly love and bond that have existed between the Lagos State government and the diverse ethnic and tribal groups in the State must not be compromised. Fifth columnists, whose major pre-occupation is to fan the ember of disaffection for self-seeking interests must not be allowed to profit, as it is their practice, from the current false campaigns. The hospitable nature of Lagos indigenes is legendary.
In a political season, unusual things happen and perhaps we are living in an interesting time. There is too much at stake for anyone to begin to incite non indigenous population against their host state. It is a very dangerous and unwarranted pattern. The sad manipulation of our people through ethnic, religious and sectional differences has caused a lot of harms to our nation. It breaks the unity of our people and turns their attention away from the urgent and real matters of public interests.
Given the current thinking in Lagos State, it is strongly believed that all stakeholders in the state should play a major role in ensuring the full realization of the lofty policies and programmes of the State government for common good of everybody. Therefore, to further strengthen the current development strides in the State, there must be continuous constructive engagements and collaborations between all groups, interests and actors in the state. This is the only way forward. This is the true spirit of Lagos.
Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja