Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State on Thursday offered an unreserved apology over the misunderstanding that trailed the deportation of 70 beggars to Onitsha, Anambra State. They were allegedly dumped at the Onitsha Bridge on July 24.
The Fashola-led administration however put the number at 14 and claimed they were only relocated to Onitsha after they had been rehabilitated. The move generated a lot of public outcry and put the government at the receiving end of criticisms.
While speaking on Thursday at the silver jubilee of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, Governor Fashola stated that he had no problem with Igbos. He disclosed that the largest herds of cattle he received when his father died was from the Igbos.
He said “I came here to say to say thank you for the honour done to my family and the memory of my late father. People who clearly do not understand the actions taken and words spoken are those I owe an explanation. I cannot take the Igbos for granted because we have built a relationship based on tolerance, mutual respect, love and trust. That relationship was built by our ancestors and I put a lot of value in that relationship.
I offer an unreserved apology if the actions taken had been misunderstood.
But I think the basic issue Aka Ikenga must address is why people feel compelled to immigrate from one part of the country to the other? Is it the case that some lack the resources to develop or perhaps some parts are endowed with enormous resources but not adequately managed? How can development be so difficult from the zone that has produced people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alex Ekwueme, Ike Nwachukwu, among others? As political storm gathers, there are contact spots but like in football, contact spots have rules. Those who are victims of our shortcomings as professionals in and out of government should not be pounced. A day like these calls for deep reflection about issues of our loyalties. Are we more Igbo than Nigeria or we are more Nigeria than Igbo?”
Those who attended the event included the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Ayim, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan; House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Hon Emeka Ihedioha; Catholic Bishop, Mathew Kuka; former Minister, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu; President Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike; former ambassador George Obiozor and President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Gary Enwo-Igariwey, Onyeka Onwenu and Prof Pat Utomi.