The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Lagos State demanded Tuesday the immediate suspension ofOba of Lagos who threatened Igbo residents in the nation’s commercial capital with death if they failed to vote for APC governorship candidate, Akinmunmi Ambode in the elections scheduled for Saturday. Oba of Lagos Rilwan Akiolu must remain punished until after this weekend’s vote for trying to intimidate the Igbos in order to ensure free, fair and credible polls, the PDP said, .
“The positions of the PDP are coming on the heels of the now viral threat issued by the Oba of Lagos to Igbos that they must vote for the APC Governorship Candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, or be drowned in Lagos waters,” Taofik Gani, the publicity secretary of the PDP in Lagos, said in a statement Tuesday.
Gani also accused Akiolu of acting on behalf of Lagos Gov. Babatunde Fashola, a member of the APC. “The governor is thus a conspirator in this threat to life and must also be held accountable for any violence in these elections. We have been vindicated about the desperation of the APC to retain Lagos state at all cost, including the All Progressives Congress’ plan not to concede its imminent defeat on April 11,” Gani said .
During a meeting at his palace on Sunday, Akiola told Igbo leaders the ethnic group in Lagos must vote for Amobde or risk death in the Lagos lagoon. The oba of Lagos holds no political power over the state but is seen as a counselor or patron by Nigerian politicians who seek support from Lagos residents. “On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of Allah, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos state, the person is going to die inside this water,” Akiolu said. “If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you. If you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.”
The PDP urged the Igbos, a non-indigenous ethnic group that predominates much of southeast Nigeria, to denounce the threat by voting Saturday for the PDP’s governorship candidate, Jim Agbaje. “Our response to the Oba of Lagos is that he cannot play God and he can never be God,” the PDP of Lagos said. “We therefore call on all Nigerians in Lagos state; all Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas and people of other tribes; all northerners and southerners; all Christians and Muslims to turn against this unpatriotic stance, by coming out en masse to vote for the PDP candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje on Saturday,” Gani said .
Although president-elect Muhammadu Buhari of the APC won Lagos state with a narrow lead, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP enjoyed lopsided victories in the southeast states of Imo, Anambra, Enagu, Ebonyi and Abia. The Igbo ethnic group was seen as largely responsible for the PDP’s victory in these areas on March 28 and 29.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress Lagos has asked the Igbo community in Lagos to ignore and forget the unfortunate statement credited to the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, when he addressed some Igbo chiefs in Lagos over the weekend.
In a statement signed by Joe Igbokwe, the state spokesperson of the party, the APC apologized and appealed to Ndigbo to allow peace reign, considering the longstanding relationship that has existed between Igbo and Yoruba since the inception of Nigeria.
“No human being is above mistakes,” Mr. Igbokwe said. “People can make mistakes and correct it thereafter. The Oba of Lagos can make a mistake and we believe that the statement credited to him was a mistake. If to err is human, we plead with Ndigbo to let the sleeping dog lie.
“After the March 28 2015 Presidential elections, Ndigbo in Lagos have been trooping into the Lagos APC fold in droves. They have pledged to throw their full weight behind the APC guber candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. The support was total and unprecedented. You can therefore imagine how we feel as a party when this incident came just few days to the governorship elections.”
“Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos is not a card-carrying member of APC. He is not a leader in APC. He does not speak for APC. He did not speak for Governor Fashola of Lagos State. He did not speak for our National leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He did not speak for the incoming governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. His Royal Highness is at liberty to speak for himself and he spoke for himself only. Lagos APC appeals to Ndigbo not to take the statement as the position of the party in Lagos.”
“We passionately appeal to Ndigbo not to carry the statement credited to Oba Akiolu too far so as not to put a knife on things that have held us together for more than 50 years now. If out of annoyance you throw your cap away a mad man will take it and use it forever.”
“A lot is at stake in Lagos. Lagos has been fair to Ndigbo and Ndigbo have reciprocated by taking Lagos as their home no matter whose ox is gored. Lagos APC believes that Ndigbo will not burn the bridges because of this minor setback.
“Lagos APC has worked so hard with other Nigerians to enthrone a government at the centre and we cannot afford to throw all these gains away by allowing the mistakes of the last weekend to stand on our way to link Lagos effectively with the centre. Our own Oba Rilwan Akiolu’s slip of tongue should not be used as an excuse by Ndigbo to reverse these huge gains. Ndigbo should forgive and forget by voting APC en mass this coming Saturday.”