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FunTimes Magazine


Jul 08, 2023 10:00AM ● By Minna Davies

Abule Egba, Lagos, Nigeria. Wikimedia Commons

“Lagos is a Yoruba land as against the assertions of some people that it is a no man’s land,”

Obasa, speaker of the 10th In his acceptance speech made the statement above.  His speech further explained that lawmakers would protect indigenes at any cost, including reversing laws, and ensuring laws are translated into Yoruba. There would be laws and resolutions in the areas of economy and commerce, property and titles. This leads to the question…


The question of who are the "real" Lagosians is complex and multifaceted. Lagos, being a diverse and cosmopolitan city, is home to people from various ethnic, cultural, and regional backgrounds, both within Nigeria and beyond. Over the years, Lagos has attracted individuals and families from different parts of the country and the world, contributing to its vibrant and diverse population.

Traditionally, indigenes of Lagos are considered to be those belonging to the indigenous ethnic groups with historical roots in the area, such as the AworiEgunYoruba, and others. However, the dynamics of urbanization and migration have led to a significant increase in the number of non-indigenous residents who have made Lagos their home.

In reality, the identity of a "real" Lagosian extends beyond indigene status. It encompasses those who have contributed to the growth and development of the city, regardless of their ethnic or regional background. This includes individuals who have lived in Lagos for generations, as well as those who have migrated and actively participated in the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the city.

But, Obasa's comment carries significant weight as it addresses the backdrop of a recent controversy surrounding the ownership of Lagos State. During the build-up to the February and March general elections, debates and discussions emerged, raising questions about the true owners of Lagos.

Image: Shopping district in Lagos. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lagos, being a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, attracts individuals from various backgrounds, tribes, and ethnicities. This diversity has contributed to the growth and prosperity of the state. However, it has also sparked discussions about the rightful ownership and representation of the city's indigenes.

The controversy over ownership arises from the tension between long-standing indigenous communities and the influx of migrants who have settled in Lagos over the years. While the Awori and Eko ethnic groups have historical ties to the land, the rapid urbanization and economic opportunities have attracted individuals from across Nigeria and even beyond its borders.

In this context, Speaker Obasa's assertion that lawmakers would go to any length to protect the state indigenes holds particular significance. It reflects the assembly's commitment to ensuring that the interests, rights, and welfare of the indigenous population are safeguarded amidst the changing dynamics of the city.

By mentioning the possibility of reversing existing laws, Obasa implies that the assembly is ready to reevaluate and adapt legislation to address the concerns and aspirations of the indigenous people. This commitment seeks to alleviate the concerns raised during the controversial discussions surrounding ownership, offering reassurance that their voices will be heard and their rights protected.

Additionally, the translation of laws into the Yoruba language reflects the assembly's recognition of the cultural heritage and linguistic diversity of Lagos State. This step aims to make legislation more accessible and inclusive, particularly for Yoruba-speaking individuals who form a significant portion of the indigenous population.

Image: Children performing traditional Yoruba dance. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Ah, let's talk about the impact of indigenization on those non-indigenous folks in the dazzling city of Lagos. As the concept of indigenization takes center stage, it's time to see how these policies affect the "outsiders" who have made Lagos their home.

  1. Access to Resources: Indigenization, oh what a blessing! It might mean that non-indigenous residents could face a few hurdles when trying to access resources like land, employment, education, or government services. After all, why should they have equal opportunities? Let's keep those resources reserved for the lucky indigenes.

  2. Political Representation: Who needs political representation anyway? Non-indigenous residents might find themselves feeling a bit left out when it comes to decision-making. It's only fair that indigenous voices dominate the political arena, right? Let's make sure non-indigenous residents feel like they don't quite belong.

  3. Social Integration and Identity: Embracing diversity? Nah, let's focus on reinforcing the divide. Non-indigenous residents might face challenges in fully integrating into the local community and having their cultural identities recognized. Because who needs a vibrant, inclusive community when we can have exclusive clubs instead?

  4. Economic Opportunities: Ah, the joys of indigenization policies. Non-indigenous residents may find themselves with limited economic opportunities, as certain industries or sectors might be off-limits. It's only fair that indigenes get first dibs on all the business ventures. Why would we want diversity to spur innovation and economic growth?

But wait, let's not forget that it's not all doom and gloom! The Lagos State government surely acknowledges the importance of addressing the concerns of non-indigenous residents. They must be thrilled to have the chance to participate in a system that, at times, may make them feel like second-class citizens.

Photo by David Iloba from Pexels

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  1. Business and Entrepreneurship: Indigenization policies could influence the business landscape by creating preferences or incentives for indigenous-owned businesses. This may result in limited opportunities or increased competition for non-indigenous entrepreneurs. However, it's important to note that a diverse business environment can foster innovation, collaboration, and economic growth.

  2. Employment and Workforce: Indigenization policies may have implications for employment opportunities. If certain sectors prioritize indigenes for job vacancies, it could create challenges for non-indigenous job seekers, leading to limited options and potentially affecting their career growth. However, a balanced approach that considers merit alongside indigene status can help promote a diverse and skilled workforce.

  3. Education and Training: In the education sector, indigenization policies may prioritize access to educational opportunities or scholarships for indigenes. This could potentially create disparities for non-indigenous students in terms of accessing certain educational programs or financial support. Ensuring equal access to quality education for all residents remains crucial for a fair and inclusive society.

  4. Infrastructure and Development Projects: Indigenization policies may have an impact on infrastructure and development projects. If certain construction or development contracts are reserved for indigenous firms, it could limit opportunities for non-indigenous companies to participate in these projects. Encouraging fair and transparent procurement processes can help ensure that infrastructure development benefits all residents.

  5. Tourism and Hospitality: Indigenization policies may also influence the tourism and hospitality sector. If there are preferences for indigenously-owned hotels, restaurants, or cultural attractions, it could impact non-indigenous businesses operating in this sector. Striking a balance that encourages diversity while preserving cultural heritage can contribute to a thriving and inclusive tourism industry.

However, overly restrictive indigenization policies can hinder economic growth, stifle innovation, and create divisions within society. To unlock Lagos's true potential, it's crucial to embrace diversity, foster equal opportunities for all residents, and create an environment where merit and talent shine, regardless of indigene status.

  1. United States: Despite the progress made through the civil rights movement, systemic racism and inequality persist in the United States. African Americans have historically faced discriminatory practices in areas such as housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, leading to disparities in wealth, education, and representation.

  2. Brazil: Brazil has a large Afro-Brazilian population that has faced marginalization and inequality throughout history. Afro-Brazilians continue to experience socioeconomic disparities, limited access to quality education and healthcare, and discrimination based on their racial identity.

  3. Haiti: As the first independent Black republic, Haiti has a complex history of colonialism, foreign interference, and political instability. The country has faced significant challenges in terms of poverty, inequality, and political corruption, which have disproportionately impacted its Black population.

  4. Democratic Republic of Congo: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there have been historical and ongoing conflicts, human rights abuses, and political instability that have affected all its citizens, including the Black majority population. These issues have resulted in displacement, limited access to basic services, and economic challenges.

It is important to note that these examples represent only a fraction of the nations where Black populations have faced marginalization. Racism and marginalization can manifest in various forms and contexts, and the struggle for equality and social justice is an ongoing global issue that requires continuous efforts and awareness.

As we delve into the impact of indigenization policies in Lagos, it's imperative to acknowledge that marginalized Black populations experiencing discrimination and marginalization extend well beyond Nigeria's confines. From the United States, where racial disparities persist in areas like criminal justice and access to quality education and healthcare, to Brazil, where Afro-Brazilians face economic inequality and social exclusion, the struggle for equal rights continues. Additionally, recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement, highlighting systemic racism and police brutality, and the Windrush scandal in the UK, revealing the mistreatment of Caribbean immigrants, serve as reminders that marginalization remains a pressing issue in our modern world. The fight against injustice and the pursuit of equity resonates across nations and demands collective action.

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