Sanwo-Olu condemns ongoing ethnic tension ahead guber poll in Lagos
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has condemned in strong terms the ongoing divisive ethnic politics playing out in the city ahead of the March 11 governorship and state house of assembly elections.
Sanwo-Olu, as a guest on Arise TV on Wednesday, made his stance known over this ethnic politics playing out in some areas of the state and over the social media space.
Reacting to calls for the governor and other political leaders to address this obnoxious issue that is threatening to destroy the very fabric that unites residents in this multiethnic and cosmopolitan state and the sixth largest economy in Africa, the governor welcomed moves by his team to address this challenge. Insisting that as a 21st century state, such an act should be condemned and not allowed to continue in our country.
“You said it—centre of excellence, and that is the word I want to drive—if indeed we are excellent, there are things we need to be globally competitive with, like resilience and the ability to make sure Lagos continue to create opportunities for everyone,” Sanwo-Olu said.
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The governor attributed these challenges to individuals who aren’t from the state—people who come from other states and constitute a nuisance.
“FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) numbers in the country show that Lagos continues to wrap up. But in terms of specifics, to the extent that we do all these identified trainings and bring skills out, we also don’t have rules over who comes into Lagos at what point.
“We don’t have a bother post at Ojota or anywhere coming into Lagos. So we usually have the challenge of not knowing where all of these people are coming from. Because for us, a Lagos that is the centre of excellence must continue to speak excellence in every sense of the word. It is a place where people come in, do business, do well, and create wealth for themselves, their families, and the ecosystem of the community in which they live. That is our primary driver; any other thing that comes out will be a distraction for us, which we will need to deal with—so to answer your question, it is condemnable and unacceptable,’ he added.
He explained that Nigerians and residents of Lagos must focus on their humanity side, taking a holistic assessment of themselves first. Reminding themselves that in serious situations, tribe does not matter; the only thing that matters is survival. He asked if we wanted to buy bread from the bakery, do we ask for the ethnic identity of the seller or do we just buy what we want? Or that if our pregnant wife was to be delivered of a baby, do we ask for the tribe of the doctor?
“For as long as those don’t divide us, those are not the parenthesis by which we judge ourselves. These other lines that politics has brought—it’s just supposed to be a little dot, and we move very quickly. We should not even ventilate it; we should not give it anything to hold a space in us,” he explained.
He insisted that we concentrate on things that unite us instead of this divisive ethnic coloration in our politics. “What drives us is that I want to enter an Uber, and I am not asking you where you are from. I want to go into bakery, who baked this bread. In my view, those are the things that define excellence in Lagos, and that is what we should promote.
“We are Nigerians; we are human beings; nobody has that domineering thing. So it is not something that I will continue to ventilate about, but I understand and appreciate that in local communities there are cultural issues that people want to preserve based on the number of years they have been there,” he added.
On the issue of thuggery, the governor said, “The thuggery is condemnable. No leader worth his or her salt will indeed allow a state to be run by people that we cannot even identify. So it is that condemnable, and I think the entire security team should be able to deal with that. So it is not something we should entertain in our society.”
The governor was reacting to issues of ethnic identity of the Labour Party governorship candidate, Gbadebo Vivour-Rhodes, on social media and pressure on the non-Yorubas in Lagos, insisting that they vote for him or pack out of the state.