Lagos As The Most Viable State May Secede

by Farouk Martins Aresa,

Nna, what types of insults are these? Insults, what do you mean by insults? Please stop jare!

Lagos State is the richest in the whole of Nigeria and that has been proven many times. If you do not believe it, ask Obasanjo that tried to starve Lagos State during his authoritarian civilian rule. Lagos simply ignored him and moved on. What is surprising is that Lagos did not hijack all the taxes Federal Government collected in Lagos during that time, a tit for tat. Believe heaven and earth, if Lagos had the power, Obasanjo could have come back begging on his knees.

I see, so those are the insults Lagosians felt. If that was all, we could have kissed and made up. What bothered many Lagosians is why every little group in Nigeria, that cannot live within their means keeps on threatening the whole country that they want to secede. We keep on hearing about secession in the North and South everyday. We have looked into their leaking or creative accounting; we are still looking for just one of them that can be viable. Or proven viable before.

There are some Southern states that get special derivations from the Federal Government because of the amount of natural resources they produce. The last we heard, some of them are struggling to pay workers’ salary. It just does not make sense. The more money they get from natural resources, the more they want. Even if all the money is given to them, the fear is it will be going to the same leaking basket. How did we live before and how are we going to after oil?

See, a beg see who is talking. Whose pocket drains Lagos money? Sincerely, we do not think that is anyone’s business. As long as oil producing states’ sons and daughters are receiving their fair share, the rest of Nigerians can go to hell. It is their money, they can spend it anyway they want. The only problem is that the oil companies are the ones taking the lion’s share of the profit, not Nigeria. So if Nigeria gives up its share, they would still not get their due! So O!

The irony of it all is that they cannot be as rich as Lagos. Lagos does not have natural resources as such to depend on. They optimize their ubiquitous location to enhance commerce and trade even before they became part of Nigeria. Most of the old trades were unique except slave trade that was vile and odious. Commerce was the forerunners that gave Lagos its edge trading local and imported products as center for West Africa. Lagos was not the only seaport.

Even Jaja of Opobo eventually moved his commerce to Lagos. There were too many constrains on him in the East. He had to move twice because he was sold as a slave and could not rule the freeborn where he flourished and made it big. By the time he got to Lagos, he was just out of reach. Most of his enemies could not compete. There is some accommodating magic in Lagos.

Today, Lagos is the heartbeat of the nation complimented by Ogun State as the manufacturing centers in Nigeria. Looking back at recent history, one can understand the reason the whole of the Western Region led Nigeria as the richest and the most cosmopolitan area where people of different ethnic groups within Africa and beyond mingled and traded with one another.

The point here is that it took more than natural resources to make a nation. It takes ingenuity, tolerance and the ability to open up to others willing to abide by the rules and culture of their host. The rest is amicable living, trading and socio-economic development. This is what makes Lagos unique in Africa that was inherited from the old Western Region, which was also an economic power at its own right.

Apart from the great Western and Eastern African Empires, African regions went into slumber devastated by slave trade until the “First In Africa” of the Western Region. What is so surprising is that throughout the economic boom in the West, secession was never a threat. Nigerians and other Africans living in the region enjoyed the economic boom extended to their relatives in the old Mid- West. Economic boom came with free education, health and of course cocoa export.

Therefore, there are reasons for Lagos to cry for secession from the rest of the country. True, but when regions that contribute very little, with no or dwindling natural resources keep on poking others in the eyes, one has to wonder who actually deserve to make demands. If we have to go by the amount of contributions made since the inception of the union called Nigeria up to the present, if taken into consideration, Lagos deserves the right to cry for secession.

People forget that natural resources come and go. Cocoa was it in those days. We got tin from Jos, coal from Enugu but today we have given up on what we were good at because of black gold called oil that has become a curse. We neglected our agriculture and started importing what we can produce at home while exporting foreign money we do not mint in Nigeria. Drop many seeds and they will grow. The North used to produce groundnuts, they abandoned that.

However, foreign currency that cannot be printed in Nigeria, we export them prodigally. Believe it or not, in the days of Jakande, all the fertilizers allocated to Lagos was given to the North! Today most of our food comes from the North, yet they have less rain than the South. Indeed, if the North decided to secede and starve the South, the militia and their supporters may die of hunger. Can you think of a better way to win a war than starving your enemies?

Lagos State has gotten smarter; they now lease land in neighboring states for agriculture. We are finally realizing that a country that cannot feed itself is still a colony of those that supply the food they rely on. Most of the countries that got rich on oil, forget how to grow their own food. This is why Venezuela cannot feed its people in spite of the abundant amount of oil they sold for foreign cash and wasted. Market support diversity, not monophonic commodity.

The people of China were starving some years ago until they return to the farm. They even export food mixed with all types of junks for starving countries to buy. Monsanto is popular for genetic modified seed sold all over the world. If we think we can exchange oil for food forever, there is famine and hunger waiting for us and our children in this foreseeable time, not future.

Lagos State must learn from its Northern and Southern brothers and prepare its diversified economy for the next generation. Whether Lagos secede or not, there are others watching and waiting with envious anticipation that Lagos is within reach!