The State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe, on the floor of the Lagos State house of Assembly on Friday denounced his Igbo ethnic identity in search of political fortune beyond the shores of Igbo land. National Daily learned that Igbokwe told the lawmakers that he is a Nigerian and does not belong to any ethnic group in the country.
Igbokwe was said to have appeared for screening of the last batch of nominated commissioners and special advisers Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu sent to the State House of Assembly for confirmation.
The Lagos APC spokesman stated that he doesn’t know anything about east, west, south or north except Nigeria, saying that he gets infuriates when people talk about ethnic leanings. He told the lawmakers that he has been in Lagos since 1985 and that his children were born in Lagos and grew here.
Igbokwe was cited to have declared: “I’m proudly Nigerian; I don’t know about east, west, north or south. I have been in Lagos since 1985. My children were born here. It’s high time we started building this country.
“I get angry when people mention ethnicity. A young Nigerian lady was just made a minister in Britain. If I become the president of this country, nobody is going to fill form and put his state of origin. That’s the first thing I will do. It is when you take people for who they are that is when they will release their energy for the good of the country. One day, Nigerians will say, we are all Nigerians.
“The reason for the attitude of easterners in Lagos at the last election was because Peter Obi was on the ballot. If Atiku had won, he would be the vice president.
“If 70 to 75 per cent of a particular people dominate a region, they should be encouraged. If they don’t get council chairman, at least make them deputy. What Igbo people have in Lagos, they don’t have a quarter of it in their land. If you see anybody that is doing well in the South East, he must have a thriving business in Lagos.”
However, Igbokwe may have been acting on the illusion of his desperation for political appointment in Lagos. Ethnic diversity is the strength of federalism anywhere in the world. Nigeria is still contending with the challenges of nation building that any citizen will begin to de-emphasise ethnic leaning in the competition for who gets what, when and how from the commonwealth.
Former Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu saw the political strength of the Igbo voting population in Lagos when he was in office and reviewed the structure of the state government to accommodate Igbo indigenes in Lagos in appointment of commissioners and special advisers. Tinubu did it so that his political bloc will continue to have the support of the Igbo population. It was that scheme that practically brought Joe Igbokwe into the leadership structure of the dominant political party in Lagos not because Igbokwe is a Nigerian. The major credential that qualified Igbokwe for appointment of State Publicity Secretary in Lagos is because he is an Igbo man and not a Nigerian, then, a symbol to make the Igbo population feel they belong to the government of the state.