Monday, May 1, 2017

Ayo Sogunro ― Humanity and the sins of Ambode

Sometime last week, the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria visited the rarely remarked Otodo Gbame, a fishing settlement at the Lagos waterfronts. This foreign leader had gone there to assess what has become an emerging refugee crisis in the Otodo Gbame community and to offer them his encouragement. When we wonder why the West seems to be one step ahead of us, this is one of the reasons. They visit our people to assess and study our problems and they formulate their policies to suit the facts they have learned. While they do these, we exert our energy on directionless dramas about uniforms and certificates, proudly hosted by our dysfunctional National Assembly. 

It is not surprising that our own leaders are missing from the scene when one of theirs, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, is responsible for the crisis. The hitherto peaceful community of Otodo Gbame has been under siege by the Lagos State government since October 2016 as the people battled with the government in court to save their homes. In March 2017, the government finally invaded with the full force of bulldozers and weapons: wreaking havoc, destroying homes and property, threatening people with live weapons, and injuring some. Those who protested were arrested and detained: including the elderly. These events would have passed with little mention – another daily exercise of government power in Nigeria – but for the continuous publicity of the issues by the good people at Justice & Empowerment Initiatives. After all, this is the country where the military ‘accidentally’ bombed a displaced persons camp and business proceeded as usual in the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
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