Why Igbophobia is gaining traction under Tinubu — Group
Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has attributed the anti-Igbo sentiments in Lagos state and within a circle of well connected office holders in the federal government over President Bola Ahmed Tinubu failure to caution his core loyalists who adopted anti-Igbo sentiments for political campaigns prior to the March 2023 Presidential election.
HURIWA also expressed disappointment that the Lagos state governor has unleashed a wave of anti-Igbo demolition programme as a pay back to the Igbo community for voting for the Labour Party in the 2023 governorship election.
The rights group said it will take the express directive of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to his National Security Adviser Malam Nuhu Ribadu and all the service chiefs especially the Director of the Department of State Services and the now confirmed substantive Inspector General of Police Kayode Egbetokun, to separately or jointly investigate the exact source of the recently circulated letter which asked the Lagos state governor Mr. Sanwo-Olu to close down markets in Lagos dominated by Igbos and also threatened Igbo to leave Lagos or be harmed.
“If President Bola Ahmed Tinubu continues to behave like he is unaware of the growing anti-Igbo sentiments and the presence of Igbo phobic persons in his kitchen cabinet, then the wave of anti-Igbo sentiments could destabilise Nigeria because rather than promote unity in diversity those who hate Igbo for no reason and have now been politically and economically empowered by the new government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are busy encouraging their foot soldiers to continue to create atmospheres of animosity between Igbo and their good hosts the Yorubas in Lagos and other South West states.”
HURIWA also blamed the elevation of certain leading haters of Igbo ethnicity into powerful offices in the presidency such as the Special Adviser to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Public communications and strategy Mr. Bayo Onanuga and also the conspiratorial role played by the Nigerian police under then Acting IGP Kayode Egbetokun to actively railroad MC Oluomo who spread anti-Igbo messages during the campaign to now capture the leadership of the National Union of Roads Transport workers (NURTW) in both Lagos and the National secretariat in Abuja. The Rights group said unless and until President Bola Ahmed Tinubu stop making Igbo haters politically powerful, these forces of division will continue to fan the embers of disunity even from their high offices.
HURIWA stated that around March 2023 at the peak of the campaigns for the general election, the Lagos State Parks Management Committee Chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya, also known as MC Oluomo, had issued a threat to Igbo people to stay at home during the governorship election in Lagos if they do not want to vote for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates.
This was seen in a viral video in which the loyalist to Bola Tinubu was addressing a gathering and warning their Igbo neighbours not to bother going to the polling units if they intended to vote for candidates other than the ruling party’s flag bearers. HURIWA recalled that the 2023 governorship and State Assembly elections took place amidst bloodshed and voters suppression in Lagos state on March 18, 2023.
“It is not a fight. It is not wahala (a problem). What do we want to correct it? Our PVC. And we will stand there. Yoruba should get there first and should vote first.
“When we finish voting, we’ll be watching because we have begged you and you said you have heard. If you make a mistake, you will understand. Please tell them, we have begged them. If they don’t vote for us, it is not a fight. Tell them that, Chukwudi’s mother, if you don’t for us, sit down at home. Do you understand? Sit down at home,” the Lagos State Parks Management Committee Chairman had said in the viral video.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA recalled that the threat by MC Oluomo had prompted several calls by Nigerians for security agencies to arrest him for intimidating voters in the state, but both the police and DSS gave deaf ears to these clarion calls.
In October 2018, MC Oluomo described himself as a loyalist of Tinubu in an Instagram post.
Also, HURIWA recalled that MC Oluomo, just before the time he issued his threats against Igbo voters in Lagos went viral, had posted in the social media that Tinubu owns him and the APC and whatever he (Tinubu) wants is what he (MC Oluomo) will support.
MC OLUOMO wrote on his Instagram page, “I am an Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Jagaban loyalist, I wear the Jagaban jersey, I’ve been a loyalist since 1999, the first mecca i went is through his execellence in the year 2000, moreso, he as done alot for me, he made me who i am today our relationship has been was very cordial and strong in the area that I grew up in.
“So I’m one of his loyalist that have strong believe in him, he own the party and any where his interest belong I Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya Mc oloumo belong. I and my people in Oshodi formerly endorse HE Akinwunmi Ambode for 2nd term because his government is still working in the shadow of the party national leader, but now the case is vice-visa I have to follow the interest of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the party decision. If Asiwaju Bola Ahmend Tinubu again says is no more Babajide Sanwoolu but someone else, so shall it be.”
HURIWA further noted that the Nigerian police force and the Department of State Services who were apparently instructed by the then president Muhammadu Buhari not to act against haters of Igbos such as MC Oluomo and Bayo Onanuga, made no attempt to invite the duo for interrogation but rather the Force public relations officer defended the video by Mc oloumo as a joke since he MC Oluomo had belatedly attributed that video as friendly conversations between himself and one Mama Chukwudi from whose shop he Mc oloumo buys indomie.
It added that those who hate Igbos and actively waged campaigns of hatred during the campaign period prior to the March 2023 Presidential poll such as the then All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC) Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, who publicly said that he owes nobody an apology for warning Lagos State residents from Southeast Nigeria or Igbo people never to interfere in the Lagos State politics, are now holding highly sensitive political offices in the office of President Tinubu.
Onanuga had warned that 2023 should be the last time Igbo people in Lagos would interfere in the political process of the state, saying the state is not a federal capital territory but a Yoruba Land even as he demonstrated his avowed and incurable Igbo phobia thus:
“Let 2023 be the last time of Igbo interference in Lagos politics. Let there be no repeat in 2027. Lagos is like Anambra, Imo, any Nigerian state. It is not No Man’s Land, not Federal Capital Territory. It is Yoruba land. Mind your business,”
HURIWA recalled that Onanuga had also escalated his anti-Igbo sentiments when he tweeted around March 2023 thus:
“Let me make myself abundantly clear: the views I express on Twitter are my personal views. I don’t owe anyone any apology for addressing the existential threats of our people. I am after all, first of all a Yoruba, before being a Nigerian.”
The Rights group said the federal government failed to check the rise in anti-Igbo sentiments because according to the Rights group, since the build-up of the 2023 general elections, there has been ethnic profiling against Igbo people in Lagos State as some Yoruba people including some traditional and political leaders have accused Igbo people in the state of plotting to hijack Lagos politics from the indigenes. Such ethnic profiling, the Rights group emphasized has led to attacks and the destruction of businesses owned by Igbo people in the state.
HURIWA regretted that even a leading traditional ruler in the South West who was a senior police officer was credited in the media as threatening to throw igbos into the Lagos ocean if they refused to vote for All Progressives Congress.