Anger and disbelief spread round the country and beyond on Monday over a statement credited to the paramount ruler of Lagos State, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, that Igbo residents in his domain should vote for his preferred Governorship candidate or face dire consequences.
Clarifying the comment, the palace on Monday said that the monarch was quoted out of context, while his choice candidate in the election holding on Saturday, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress (APC) reassured all citizens of fair treatment if elected.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as numerous commentators in the social media expressed anger at the purported statement which they said could hurt free choice in a democracy.
Ambode’s main opponent in the election is Mr. Jimi Agbaje of the PDP.
Oba Akiolu had, while receiving a delegation of Igbo leaders in his palace on Sunday, been quoted as saying:
“On Saturday, if anyone of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me.”
The monarch who expressed his close relationship with President Goolduck Jonathan of the PDP who was massively supported by the Igbo in the March 28 election but who lost to Major General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, added: “Jonathan is my son and I speak to him everyday.”
He had continued: “By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future. On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water (Lagos lagoon). But Ambode, in a statement on Monday, declared: “Every group in Lagos will be safe in my hands as governor,” adding: “I will not discriminate against any religious or ethnic group. It is our Lagos and we must build it together”.
The former Lagos state accountant- general added that he would be a governor for all. The palace clarified the statement, saying that the monarch was quoted out of context. A statement by the Opeluwa of Lagos, Chief Lateef Aderibigbe Ajose, read in part: “Last Sunday, all honorary Eze Ndigbos in Lagos paid a courtesy call to HRM Oba Akinolu. At the meeting the visitors praised the Oba for his fatherly support for and cooperation with Igbos in. Lagos. They assured him of their continued good neighborliness with other tribes in Lagos and support everything that’ll further strengthen that harmony.
“Oba Akiolu on his part acknowledged the enviable performance of Governor Fashola and his contribution to the growth of investments in Lagos. He gave the assurance that he is not disturbed or angry with South-East and South- South votes for President Jonathan as perceived by the Eze Ndigbos. The Obas thereafter called on the Igbos chiefs to show appreciation to Lagos State by supporting his candidate Mr. Ambode for continuity of excellence as they have earlier promised. “He assured them of his continued support and assistance where eeded and the meeting ended with the traditional breaking of kolas, alligator pepper, and bitter kola and pouring of liberation on the ground. It was within this context that that the tradition of Lagos with regard to the lagoon came up. It was noted that whoever works against the throne and the interest and peaceful co-existence of Lagos would end up in the lagoon as per tradition.
“Oba Akiolu stated further that the Igbo people have not betrayed the throne. Lagos has also not betrayed the Igbo people. Lagos has done so much to make the Igbos comfortable and to prosper. For this, we expect reciprocal respect and understanding. The Oba of Lagos prays that the Lagoon and the throne will continue to bless and protect all those who reside and visit Lagos.
“Oba Akiolu is the father of all irrespective of tribe, religion or political persuasion. In Lagos, we have an old traditional proverb that relates to the Lagoon. The Lagoon is unique to Lagos. The proverb stresses the need for unity and understanding when you do business in an environment and in this case when you live and do business in Lagos.”
The PDP, which condemned the monarch’s statement, also reacted to the impeachment notice served on Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose and said they are capable of truncating the democracy.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the PDP noted that the emerging political scenario in the two states few days before the governorship and House of Assembly elections were a threat to democracy in the country.
It declared: “The senseless and unpatriotic impeachment move against Governor Ayo Fayose by out-going APC state legislators and the barbaric death threats on non-indigenes in Lagos by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu if they vote for the PDP candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje ascend to a height of unruliness that should not be accommodated”.
Also, a group of Lagos States indigenes, under the auspices of the Free Lagos, dissociated itself from the comments attributed to the monarch.
Signed by its convener, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, the group in a statement entitled: “LAGOS STATE MUST BE FREE –GEDEGBE L’EKO WA,” described the Oba’s comment as an embarrassment “to all of us.”
The statement read: “We are disturbed by reports coming out of THE IGA IDUNGANRAN PALACE concerning threats and curses made by His Royal Highness Oba Rilwan Akinolu with regards to the outcome of the Presidential Elections
“We wish to dissociate every right thinking Lagosian and resident from the sentiments espoused by the Oba.
“Indeed, it is an embarrassment to all of us and we reject those words with all emphasis at our disposal.
“We have also been disturbed by some satanic texts going round which share the same sentiments as the Oba and implore everyone to ignore such threats and curses as ineffective and desperate 419.
“Lagos had always been free for all to do business and prosper and we shall fight to keep it so.
“The fear of Lagos is not the traders and businessmen who come from certain parts to do business and settle and prosper in Lagos, making invaluable contributions to the development of Lagos.
“The real dangers are those that hide under the Yoruba race toga and rape Lagos silly and impose their will on Lagos State to the exclusion of Lagosians, albeit in collaboration with our royalty.”
I am sure I am speaking the mind of all the people of Lagos State, residents and indigenes alike by assuring all of us to go out and vote freely for whoever we want, but keep in focus and teach all those who seek to continue to exploit our resources a lesson they will never forget.