Eminent Nigerians and stakeholders in the Lagos Arewa community has signaled poise to continuously harp on the need for commensurate reckoning in the governance structure of the state, as enjoyed by other tribes resident here.
This was the thrust of Dr. Ibrahim Balarabe Musa’s assertion at the 2019 Arewa Festival held in Agege, Lagos recently. Contrary to the much held believe that the Yoruba’s owns the state, the son of the late northern stalwart hinted that Arewa descents are also one of the early dwellers in the state, as far back as the pre-colonial era.
“That is the mistake you people are making, Lagos is peopled by all the tribes, because it has been the first capital of Nigeria and when you say a place is capital, no other tribes should manipulate, of course Yoruba has proximity to Lagos and activities of Lagos, they have their obas the chief and what have you, who are more prominent, indigenous but truly everybody is a Lagosian.
“It is in fact true for other tribes, particularly people from the north whose stay in Lagos predates the colonial era because northern people were in Lagos prior the colonial era. They make a lot of money and they go back buy houses and so on and so forth. All their grand children are here, for example all those you see now in this particular gathering are grand children of those who are from Lagos. So I don’t want to put any monopoly to one tribe.
Balarabe also spoke about the significance of the festival, describing it as a unifying event.
“The significance is one for the various people of Arewa, who happens to be in Lagos for a very long time, even before the colonial era people have been here, so that is even the reason why they should come together and in respect of political interest they should put their views together and also if there are any other important thing that should happen to Arewa people in Lagos it should not be missed.
“You know Lagos is a conglomeration of so many tribes and ethnic groups, if not for a festival like this you can never know that Arewa people are so many like this in Lagos, you will only think that it is only Yoruba people that make up Lagos, but if you look at it today you will consider the significance and of course the economic strength of Arewa people in Lagos here. So this is why it is important to have this kind of cultural gathering from time to time.
He added that the heritage of the Arewa people are displayed and a pointer to the culture and way of life of the people.
“Let me tell you something,Arewa people where ever they go normally go with their cultural behavior, some of which are; tilted towards the way they trade, go to work, go to worship and more, for instance this boxers you see, is a symbol of culture of the people same goes for other vibes on display here.
Also speaking a stakeholder in the Arewa project in Lagos, Hon.Anthony Onehia, a Senior Special Adviser to the Kano State Governor on Lagos Affairs and one of the initiators of the Arewa festival 2019, disclose the essence of the programme.
“The Kano state Government have looked at an avenue through which the Arewa people here in Lagos can be part of its government policies in Kano, now when I took up the appointment I noticed that Arewa people in Lagos has a voice and things to say but because they are here in Lagos and their 19 Governors are in the northern state, they feel that there is little to be said because their Governor’s can’t come to Lagos to speak with them.
“In the light of this, we came up with this Arewa Festival so that people can hear the voice of the Arewa people in Lagos. The Arewa people in Lagos contribute to the revenue generation of the people in Lagos state;from Mile 12 market to Alaba Rago to Okoko to Festac, they contribute to the revenue of this state so Arewa people are coming out to say, see we are present in this state.
“We want to be part of whatever developmental programmes are coming out for people born in this state. In Agege you have one of the highest populations of Arewa people so this informs why we are having the festival in Agege.
“We realized that although there are factions and version of Arewa people here, we want a platform to unify the Arewa people in Lagos and that we have done today for the people.
Muhammad Qudu One of the finance committee member and a stakeholders in the organization of the Arewa festival 2019, also noted the festival was able achieve three things; unity amongst the various Arewa community blocs, affirm the prominence of Alhaji Mohammadu Dandama Yabo as the recognized leader of the community in Lagos State as well as to confirm that the attempt by some to ensure we are not one is curtailed.
“Some of the party members of APC that loved the division within the Arewa people have failed, because what we understand is that when there is that division amongst us the slot that supposed to come to the Arewa people in bulk normally goes to them. That is why they want the unity amongst us shattered, we use the Arewa festival to harmonize and become one.