The absurdity of branding Lagos City “a no-man’s-land” has been demonstrated by the Igbos beyond doubt. It is the responsibility of the proud aborigines of Lagos to ensure that such a disparaging idea is rejected with every fiber of their being and to ensure that this laughable impression does not trample on their rights. Those branding the city a ‘No-man’s-land’ may see nothing bad in it, but Lagos City deserves every bit of respect, and any misclassification or distortion that will diminish its proud contributions to the global scene must be resisted.
The Igbo people have been a major part of the Nigerian population and are recognized for their nomadic trading endeavors. From bustling cities to remote villages, they are always found peddling a variety of merchandise. Everywhere you go, an Igbo trader is lurking nearby, selling something and providing what is needed. They provide a service of supplying essential goods throughout the nation.
In this manner, the large population of Nigeria serves as consumers and a designated market for the products sold by these merchants. Every minute brought with it a buyer ready to buy whatever goods offered by these dynamic traders. The importance of markets for the survival of any business cannot be overstressed, thus, access to such a thriving market is the lifeblood of Igbo flourishing businesses. Definitely, no investors will ever risk investing where there is a lack of assurance of markets for the investments.
Industrialized nations have long understood the importance of an expansive market for a vibrant economy. During a time of turbulent financial turmoil in Europe, Many European countries were desperately in search of markets for their industrial, agricultural, and commercial production. Western powers were competing greatly for the control of African countries as they sought to secure as much of the market for themselves to sustain their productions. This race for markets caused tensions between competing western Imperial nations.
Consequently, imperialism was one of the four factors that caused the First World war. After the war, the countries of Africa were partitioned in the Berlin Conference of 1884 among European powers who funded the war. The agreement created territorial markets for European countries in Africa without fear of taxation or customs duties- an idea that was ultimately approved by most Western nations due to its perceived benefits for international trade and investment.
This analysis shows the importance of the market to business and its immense significance for Igbo traders. Nigeria is a crucial player in the African economy due to its market size, and Igbo traders had taken full advantage of its enormous market of over 250 million population without fear of customs tariffs on internal trade, resulting in higher profits and tremendous opportunities for more viable investments.
Meanwhile, Lagos holds an important position in Nigeria’s commerce with its coastline offering numerous investment opportunities. Despite any administrative changes, Lagos stands strong to this day due to its diverse population that provides immense market potential, which has been crucial for sustaining Igbo investments in Nigeria. This former capital city is not only home but also a major contributor towards uniting Nigerian communities, and this gave Lagos a distinct title-the meeting point for all Nigerians.
Lagos is an economic leader in Africa and a city of immense importance, especially in terms of offering access to multiple markets. The Igbo tribe who are especially known for their resilient spirit when it comes to business took full advantage of this and flocked to the city in droves seeking better opportunities and wealth creation. Having access to a large population like the one found in Lagos makes it easy for members of the Igbo tribe to seek out opportunities and make a success either legitimately or illegitimately. To the Ibos, Lagos is an ideal spot for the hustle that spurs them on as they search for success in any form.
As Lagos continues to grow, its importance as a center of commerce and opportunity grows with it. The Yoruba people, who own the land on which the great city stands, are known for their open arms and a warm welcome for settlers from any tribe. Their detribalized nature has created an environment in which Igbo and other tribes alike can thrive without fear or discrimination. Lagosian recognizing the Igbo attribute also assisted them in securing international standard market spaces in choice areas where there is immense potential for them to grow their businesses for greater economic stability.
However, Igbo’s achievement has not been without controversy and negative tendencies. Often, when people experience a great deal of success, they are driven by a sense of superiority that leads to confidence and ambition. This feeling of success motivated the Igbos to want to take control or dominate their environment. What once may have been thought impossible has now become possible through a culture of acceptance built into the fabric of Lagos. The Igbos who have been warmly welcomed on their land and given ample opportunity to expand their reach are now branding Lagos City “a no-man’s-land”, and this idea seems to be gaining traction – an attitude that can be detrimental to their co-existing with their host if not properly managed.
The culture of the Igbos dominating their relationships with other tribes, even in locations outside Nigeria, has caused feelings of resentment amongst the natives towards the Igbo tribe-leading to tension. Much of the public anger directed at Nigerian immigrants abroad was targeted at Igbos as a result of their inordinate desire to dominate their host. Other countries have, in some extreme cases, resulted in xenophobia attacks against Igbos. This demonstrates how an unchecked desire for control can breed animosity among those affected. This is an important lesson worthy of consideration.
Sir Ahmadu Bello’s words are forever etched in our minds- “Igbos come to your lands and they want to dominate you”. This very drive for domination has been a source of tension that manifested in the painful maiming and killing of Igbos in Hausa land in the 60s which eventually snowball into Civil war, resulting in thousands of losses and leaving over a million people without a home. This emphasizes the destructive consequences that can arise when domination is attempted instead of harmony among different groups. It is, therefore, essential we act on these lessons so that future generations may live free from danger caused by divisions between ethnicities.
It is hard to fathom the idea of branding a city that has been around for centuries and adorned with a rich history as a no-man’s-land. The interpretation is that immigrants who have tenanted in the city that their forefathers toiled to build for centuries are now attempting to take over their land, and this would leave them feeling slighted and disrespected. Such an inordinate desire to dominate Lagos aboriginals in their ancestral home is a sense of ingratitude towards indigenous owners and this could lead to serious consequences, such as hostility between settlers and natives.
This desire to dominate others has no place in modern-day society–especially when it comes to such an incredible city with endless potential. Hopefully, individuals with this type of agenda will soon realize how absurd it is to call cities such as Lagos a “no-man’s-land”. It is, thus, important for both sides to work towards understanding each other and fostering positive relationships with mutual respect and healthy compromises. Only then can we hope that these conflicts can be resolved and a better future envisioned between Igbos and their host.
The resolve of the Igbo people to seek equal ownership of Lagos is a foolhardy mission. The champions of such an agenda are rushing into this venture without proper consideration and understanding of their endeavor. It would serve them better if they continue to seize the financial opportunities provided by its population size rather than chasing after something which can never truly be achieved. Tensions are already high amongst the tribes, but Lagos aborigines displayed an impressive powerful spirit of tolerance and resilience to create an atmosphere of peace. This is based on a peaceful partnership that Lagos has been able to cultivate over the years.
In the long run, if Igbos settlers refused to act judiciously by stopping branding Lagos a No-man’s-land, their fate may lie in redefining the terms of co-existence; and this can only mean good things for the masses of unemployed Yoruba graduates whose hope of white-collar jobs has been dashed for long. However, with the unemployment rate among Yoruba youth graduates on a steady incline, more youths are becoming aware of the immense potential offered in trading and entrepreneurship. Lagos government will have no option but to formulate an employment policy that will retrain the highly educated Yoruba youths in entrepreneurship study, stand as a guarantor for them in Chinese Industries for the freighting of high-quality standard products, and facilitate loans for them to step up and fill the vacuum created by Igbos’ self-displacement. But there is still room to act judiciously and join forces today toward rebuilding peaceful co-existence among all citizens in Nigeria. Only then will both communities benefit from mutual respect’s unique advantages.
Idowu E. Faleye, a certified Data Analyst, Political Activist, and writer, is a graduate of Politics & Public Administration. He’s the Founder/Chief Data Officer at EphraimHill Data Blog–a Data Reporting Site that is niche in Politics & Society. He can be reached at +2348132100608. or [email protected]