By Grace Olubunmi Salako Smith
I have been itnaudated with calls & messages.
To make myself clear, I am staunchly opposed to a mindset & not persons. More than half my friends are Igbos. I don’t hate anyone of them. I will however oppose the mindset that LAGOS IS NO MAN’S LAND unflinchingly without remorse. If you hold that mindset or display it in ANYWAY we will have an irreparable conflict. Whether you like it or not, understand it or not, I will never disrespect whatever level of hospitality you show me. If you tolerate me and open your house to me, sell property to me so I can live and progress in peace, I won’t insult your hospitality as foolishness. That is the height of ungodliness. God does not like or tolerate ingratitude. If God doesn’t neither will I. Those are the terms to relate with me. If they are not acceptable to you, we can pursue different paths in life and God bless us both.
Secondly I have unsubscribed from the illusion of one Nigeria. An inequitable distribution of contribution to the polity makes it a toxic and an unsustainable relationship or partnership. I believe every part needs to be in control of their God given land and heritage. If we choose to come together under the umbrella of a Country, the association will be on terms agreeable to all and agreed to by all.
The HYPOCRISY we call a Nation must come to an end. A situation where the South South produces the bulk of the oil wealth, where Lagosians become fools for selling their lands to accommodate all as the Nation’s first Capital, an association where Fulanis demand ’grazing land’ from the rich South at no cost, are some of the reasons why Nigeria is not a sustainable experiment.
I have stopped subjecting myself to the phantom and mirage illusion of what constitutes Nigeria. I believe in merit and visionary leadership hence my support of Peter Obi. However my idealism has been shattered. I accept the rude shock with equanimity. Afterall you have to break an egg’s shell to get a chicken. New life begins for me. I am irrevocably committed to ensuring my Lagosian heritage is not decimated or lost whatever and however that can be achieved. I am glad for the watershed of the last week. It’s a moment for strength. It’s a time for growth. If my growth occurs in a different direction than yours, I thank you for whatever you have contributed to my journey so far. I wish you God’s speed in whatever direction your path takes you. They say in politics and so it should be in life, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interest. I have made my permanent interests clear to all in this past week.
A) Lagos is my heritage. It is not a no man’s land and I refuse fellowship and association with anyone who believes it is.
B – Nigeria is only the passport of a country I am compelled to carry. I am for the self determination and governance of its component parts so each part will make the set of rules that puts their interest first where they are not compelled to bear the burdens of other parts socially, economically or politically. Associations derived from the component parts should be entirely voluntary without any compulsion or subjection.
Every component part of Nigeria is self sustaining. I know because in 1989, I was hired as a consultant to assess and evaluate the tourism potentials in each state to create a report for Thomas Cook the largest tourism company in the world at that time. Myself and a former colleague Kole Ade Odutola worked on that project. He actually documented the pictures e took on that trip in a published book where I was not acknowledged ( story for another day). We went to every State in Nigeria then apart from Borno State. We had a 21 day deadline and couldn’t include that State in our itinerary. Every State we visited was full of untapped potentials and resources wasting away. I wept for the most part of that journey. Especially when we got to the Baganda Lake Hotel and the Tiga Dam suites built in Kano State by Governor Audi Bako in Gowan’s era. There was only one lone gentleman in charge of both places!!!! Fully equipped hotel with an outside amphitheater as well as full furnished suites perfect for holidays and just hang out were unoccupied and not in use. Such wastage!!! Yet we spend scarce fx holiday if abroad. Nigerians, we are a people who lack insight. Every State in Nigeria is viable. The Northern States are full of mineral resources that are untapped. My late friend Bola Shitta Bey had suppliers from Senegal, CotedVoire etc bring her precious stones emeralds, sapphire’s etc mined from Nassarrawa, Kebbi and other Northern States.
The concentration of the economic burden of Nigeria has been shouldered by The oil producing States and Lagos. Hence the inclination of non Lagosians to want to hold on to their economic interests in Lagos to the detriment of the Indigines. Each State has vast potentials untapped. What we have always lacked was a visionary leadership and a law abiding followership. This was my premise for joining the Obidient movement. Things took a dangerous turn that birthed my awakening to the unworkability of the lop sided Nigerian alliance which I will not re hash. In conclusion, the contraption called Nigeria needs to release its component parts so each part can discover their potentials and develop at their own pace. We might be amazed at the rate we all will grow and develop that we might kick ourselves for not doing this all along.
My foundational philosophy from being a Jaycee is “Earth’s great treasure lies in the human personality”. Mankind is the Earth’s greatest resource. Limitless potentials abound in every creature made in the image of God. We only need to be willing to let go of the security we have and embrace the unknown that we fear so we can discover the majesty we are yet to see. Every region in Nigeria be ready to take the leap. Discover the unknown treasures in your own territory. You may find out that the Country’s boundaries have been your limitations all along. No need for hatred or violence. Let us part amicably to explore our potentials. It’s not about tribalism and bigotry which is only how far small minds and shallow intellects can perceive. Rather than stay together while hurting each other, let us go in peace with faith that God has blessed this land with more than we all need. God bless us all.
Grace Olubunmi Salako Smith.
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