I like to make the best of every situation, good or bad. Life is too short for negativity. A lot has happened this week that has highlighted ethnic tensions around the country. The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, self acclaimed owner of Lagos, even went as far as saying that any Igbo person who voted for the opposition party in the state was going to perish in the lagoon within seven days. A lot of people were filled with outrage and there was no shortage of condemnation. I have had time to think about it all and I think that the Oba actually did a good thing with his diatribe. Wisdom sometimes means seeing the good in a terrible situation. Let me list a few ways the Obas speech was a good thing.
The word “Igbo” trended for a while on Twitter the day the audio and video of the Oba’s statement got to the internet. I was excited about this. Before the Oba spoke, I could not have a conversation using that word that did not somehow end up in people arguing whether the name of the ethnic group is “Igbo” or “Ibo". There seemed to be some unanimity associated with the condemnation of the Oba, that the ethnic group is rightly spelt “Igbo”. We have the Oba to thank for this. What if the Oba was sensible and refused to take sides in politics? Hundreds of thousands of people would have been spelling it “Ibo". The proactive nature of the Oba has contributed positively to Nigeria. God bless the Oba for letting his mouth run.
We now know who the real owner of Lagos is. If you travel to Lagos or speak to people who live in Lagos, you no doubt have heard different ethnic groups claim ownership of Lagos. Some Yorubas would claim that Lagos is Yoruba land. Again some non-Yorubas would say, like Orji Uzo Kalu allegedly said, that Lagos is no man’s land. Me, I don't like to put my mouth in people’s quarrel so I cannot say if Lagos should belong to any ethnic group. All I know is that I now know whose name to call when I am asked, who owns Lagos. The Oba of Lagos did not mince words when he said: “for the time being, I am the owner of Lagos.” I don't know about tomorrow but for the time being, the quarrel of who owns Lagos has been settled. We thank the Oba for being bold enough to come forward and settling this quarrel. For the time being.
We now know that someone is bigger than Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This is very important. I was beginning to think that in my lifetime no one would challenge his power and hold on politics. In fact the Financial Times calls Tinubu Nigeria’s Machiavelli. The Hausa say, “gaba da gabanta”. There is no one so big that he doesn't have someone bigger than him. The Oba made it clear that “even Asiwaju cannot disobey” him. Now we know that if the APC leader gets too powerful there is someone he cannot disobey. Instead of criticise him we should befriend him for when will need him in the future. Because who will call Tinubu to order when he starts misbehaving?
It has boosted the Nigerian economy in the most unusual way. I am sure that before the Oba threatened to arrange for death by lagoon drowning for anyone who voted his “blood relation” Jimi Agbaje, people who sold life jackets had slow, sleepy days at the office. Suddenly, by way of protesting the Obas words, dozens of people purchased life jackets. Imagine what this has done to the life jacket market. Now those who sell them will have more sales which will lead to more profits, which will increase their purchasing power, which will in turn inject needed funds into the Nigerian economy. Just by one speech. The Oba should be put on a retainer.
More people will learn how to swim. Think of it this way. You may not immediately see it, but if there were Igbos in Lagos who had been procrastinating about taking swimming lessons or letting their children learn how to swim, this will encourage them to take it more seriously. More Igbos learning how to swim. More people who teach swimming getting work. Economy getting better. More children, especially Igbo children becoming good swimmers at an early age. And importantly, possible international medals for the country in swimming. They say black people can't swim. The Oba is changing all that. Revolutionary if you ask me.
Most people did not realise that the two candidates were related to the Oba of Lagos. One is his chosen boy, the other is his blood relation. People might listen to this and realise that in the end, whatever the outcome, they will all sit in the Obas palace settle this like family members over cold drinks. This will make people less violent about their support and lead to peaceful elections. If you look at it this way, the Oba was actually advocating peaceful elections.
I think that instead of screaming about dragging him to the International Criminal Court, we should be nominating Oba Akiolu for the Nobel Peace Prize. He deserves it.