Lagos, the Igbo & the Servants of Truth: Fani-Kayode prepares for a war for which no soldier would likely show up!

I’m no fan of Femi Fani-Kayode and I doubt many Yorubas are.  In fact, when his essays started popping up in newspapers and on line, I understood them for what exactly they were:  a well-choreographed rehab job for Yorubas everywhere.  When a couple of them came my way, I wrote the sender that I was not interested in using the writer’s material in addition to asking where else it was used. 

He has now gone full throttle in “fighting on behalf of” Yorubas – as Tao puts, a “war” for which he will have no soldiers but himself alone.  From a post-ministerial (under retired General Obasanjo’s presidency)  cushy life, he can afford to, but he should leave posturings on the Yorubas alone; perhaps, better still, he should write a book.

Herewith an abbreviated edition of the self-promoter’s piece which, if truth be told, contains very cogent points.  It is followed by some comments from two regulars on this blog.  TOLA.

Lagos, The Igbo And The Servants Of Truth

By Femi Fani-Kayode


The claim that the igbo helped to develop Lagos is hogwash. The major institutions of the south-west were developed by the diligence, hard-work, industry and sweat of the Yoruba people. This is a historical fact

The igbo had little to do with the extraordinary development of Lagos between 1880 right up until today. That is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer Town, Alaba and buying up numerous market stalls in Isale Eko, where is their input? Meanwhile, the Yoruba of the old Western region and Lagos were very gracious to them and not only allowed them to return after the civil war to claim their properties and job but also welcomed them with open arms and allowed them to flourish in our land. This is something that they have never done for our people in the east. Such gestures of love and fraternity were never reciprocated. Now some of them have the effontry to call Lagos which is our land and the land of our forefathers (I am half Lagosian) ‘’no-man’s land’’and others have the nerve to assert that up to 50 per cent of the development in Lagos came as a consequence of the input of the igbo. This is utter rubbish.

I am not a tribalist but a great believer in Nigeria and more importantly, I am a historian and a student of history. I will not distort the facts of history just to keep some people happy. The history of the yoruba and of Lagos particularly is very well known to me and the fact that Lagosians and the yoruba people generally are so generous and accomodating in their ways and to non-indegenees that settle in their territory should not be mistaken for ignorance, stupidity or weakness. We know our history, we know who we are, we know who and what developed our land and made it into what it is and we urge those who yearn to be like us to go and emulate our efforts and attitude to non-indigenes and hard work in their own states of origin.

Meanwhile, permit me to recommend to all and sundry to read and learn from the following words of an insightful Nigerian by the name of Mr. Sina Fagbenro-Byron. He has had the courage to analyse the matter in a very honest, clear and forthright manner and he has spoken the truth. Let us hope that those who have no knowledge of that truth are humble enough to learn from it. He wrote-

‘’It has become a recent habit by a number of our young Igbo brethren to refer to Lagos as a ‘no-man’s land. The great Zik, Mbadiwe, Mbonu Ojike, Ajuluchukwu, Opara etc would never have made such statements as they knew better. It is not only unfair but in extremely bad taste apart from the fact that it is historically false. How can you call a land that has had over 400 years of traditional rulership and cultural definition as a no man’s land.? It shows contempt for the indigenes, ingratitude of hospitality and a betrayal of ones host. The late Herbert Macauley( a Yoruba Lagosian) on his dying bed endorsed Zik as successor leader of the NCNC because of his nationalism, intellectual sagacity and it was endorsed by a group of Yoruba elders and not by any Igbo population who in anycase were infinitesimal as at the time, for Chinua Achebe records in his book, and we can roughly confirm that there were not more than a few thousand Igbos in Lagos before the civil war. So after having been received, accomodated by their host Yorubas since the 1940s a generation that is ignorant of history and careless of historical relationship refer to Lagos as no mans land, this attitude is the cause of the perenial Jos crisis amongst others. When the military stopped the teaching of history in schools in the 1980s, we knew that by allowing them we courted confusion, but it was deliberate. Up til1968 , Mushin, Apapa, Ikeja, were all part of the Western region.

The English treaty was with the Oba of Eko Ile,(Lagos). Lagos traditional families all are Yoruba and the founder of Eko was Ogunfunminire who migrated from Ife before the 16th century. Lagos traditional Obaship was confirmed on behalf of the Oduduwa dynasty. If we consider it unfair to call Igbo property ‘abandoned property’ after the civil war, why should they refer to another mans backyard as no man’s land? Lagos had been the commercial nerve center of West Africa befor Nigeria was created and this was attributable to the welcoming attitude of coastal Yorubas, which was first betrayed by the Portugese who introduced slave trade, the Kiriji war and the 100 years Yoruba civil war of 1769-1869 also saw a huge population from the other Yoruba hinterland moving to Lagos to procure salt, guns,seek out their freed slave brethren etc and these led to the growth of Lagos. Since independence and after the civil war, other Nigerians have made Lagos a home for themselves , but none have been so unkind as to call Lagos a no man’s land. Igbos who say this and claim credit for the development of Lagos should remember that the first Industrial Estate in Nigeria was built by Awolowo in Ikeja as Premier of the West and the Western House on Broad street has significant historical importance. I would urge my Igbo brethren not to make true the words of Sardauna when he described the Igbos as having a tendency to come in as visitors and seek to claim ownership to the exclusion of indigens.If Onitcha or Abakaliki is not no mans land why should Lagos be? Imagine how our Niger Delta brethren will feel if we refer to their space on God’s earth as no mans Land?’’

Fagbemi-Byron has hit the nail on the head and I wholeheartedly commend him for his courage.


Concerning Mr Femi Fani-Kayode’s forwarded riposte, I do not propose to attempt any examination of the origins of Lagos and Yoruba States which form its hinterland. Instead, let me briefly recall for our attention the proceeding of the Conference in London in 1953, between the British Secretary of State for the Colonies and Nigerian delegates over a revision of the existing constitution. During the Conference, the Eastern Region delegates (with the acquiescence of northern counterparts), in their demand to separate Lagos from Western Nigeria, stated that Lagos was  a “no-man’s land.” The Western delegates led by Mr (later Chief) Obafemi Awolowo, however, emphasised the historical connections between Lagos and Yorubaland, maintaining that “Losing Lagos would mean decapitation and that would mean death.” (Daily Times, August 22, 1953, p. 4). This position was reiterated on Awolowo’s return to Nigeria, when he stated that “Lagos will be separated on our dead bodies,” adding that if by any chance the separation was effected, the West would secede from Nigeria. (Daily Times, September 7, 1953, p. 1).

Yoruba’s affinity for Lagos was similarly demonstrably reflected in Awolowo’s response to the then Military Governor of the Eastern Region Lt.-Col. Ojukwu over the latter’s concerns with Decree No. 8 which effected Aburi Agreement. Here, Awolowo noted that if the Eastern Region seceded from Nigeria, the Western Region and Lagos must also stay out of the federation (West Africa, May 2, 1967, p. 6). It is interesting to note that in a pamphlet that seems to evince, by arguments, the status of Lagos as a Yoruba town, entitled, Lagos Belongs to the West, the AG (Action Group) claims in this pamphlet that “Lagos was founded by Yoruba people over five centuries ago.” (Action Group, Lagos Belongs to the West (London: Purnell and Sons, 1953), p. 11) The AG further noted that, “whether you look at the past, the present, or into the future, Lagos was, is, and will continue to be not a cosmopolitan territory, but a Yoruba town pure and simple.”

That said, I do not share Mr Femi Fani-Kayode’s enthusiasm for Nigeria’s solidarity. He has claimed in the forwarded piece that: “I am a Nigerian before anything.” Now, having regard to the ethnology of the inhabitants of the geographical unit that formed Nigeria before the Lugardian amalgamation of its Northern and Southern Provinces on the 1st of January 1914, it will be realised that ethnic affiliation takes priority over national solidarity. Of course, some still believe that Nigeria’s future must lie in political unity. However, given the difference of ethnological, religious and political conditions of the inhabitants of the huge tract of Nigeria, sacrosanctity of a united Nigeria, in my view, cannot be taken for granted. In the circumstance, I think encouragement should rather be given to the ethnic manifestation of separate developments in any part of the country vis-a-vis other part of the country.

With kind regards.

AO Ajetunmobi



This is clean breath from a dirty mouth. The defender of the unthreatened Yoruba heathland is the same who served Obasanjo in constructing the lootocracy still ravaging the land. Such a waste as he seems to have a good mind and the case made here against group or individual reckless,highly inflammatory,or irresponsible utterances which could touch off anti Igbo feelings or worse,is sound and timely. Are we learning and have we learnt anything?

Great shame all the same that looters who should be in prison and barred from decent society are now currying the favour of their constituencies,seeking rehabilitation as fidei defensor.


Mo kun fope o.


Re para 3 , there is a body of misguided so-called “DETRIBALISED” Yoruba, not that the Yoruba can remember they could have been or being correctly described as a TRIBE, not even by the tricky standards of Euro-colonial anthropology . This band, not surprisingly is led b Fani-Kayode’s  mentor, Obasanjo. The latter is reported to have once claimed to be a Nigerian first and then a Yoruba, some twisted logic?

Now the “detribalized” Fani-Kayode is unfurling the flag of a latter-day Yoruba/Igbo war. Oodua, help us!

Mo kun fope o.


The “detribalized” Nigerians exist/operate only in Nigeria’s political sphere, Tao, where slogans are mouthed without the meanings or implications being understood.  Retired General Obasanjo is a PDP “chieftain” first, second …  – and all that THAT implies – before being a Nigerian.  I’m sure you know what I mean.



THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2013.  4:37 a.m. [GMT]



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One Comment on “Lagos, the Igbo & the Servants of Truth: Fani-Kayode prepares for a war for which no soldier would likely show up!”

  1. Uwera Says:

    Very interesting insight. Is there a hint of “divide and rule” here, or is it a distraction to talk about cultural affiliations, and contributions of each group, while emptying the regional and national coffers of the country. Thanks again Tola. Another great post.



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