By Law Mefor
Opinion: On the surface, the piece “Palestine & Israel – Igbo & Yoruba” published 9th October, 2023 by one Adedamola Adetayo is one of those rants that do not deserve refutation. However, some lies, if left to fester, could mislead many people. This is especially true when you consider that Adetayo’s profanity against Ndigbo is not his first. “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. Among psychologists, something like this is known as the “illusion of truth” effect.
One can find at least three more articles he has written that are vile and filled with hatred for Ndigbo. ‘The Worrisome Igbo Politics of Discrimination’, ‘Igbo Zionism or Conspiracy Theory’, ‘Yoruba: A Conquered People’, and ‘The Fulanis and Igbos are Two of a Kind!’ are some of the articles by the same author, Adedamola Adetayo, available online.
The continuing conflict between Hamas and Israel gave him yet another chance to haul more tirades at Ndigbo after earlier comparing the ethnic group to the Fulani. This time, he claimed there are glaring parallels between Ndigbo, especially Ndi Anambra in Lagos, and Jewish activity in Palestine.
Adebayo believes that his diatribe should act as a warning to the Yoruba people to put an end to and reverse Igbo expansionism to avoid their imminent conquest of Lagos.
Some time ago, a similar anti-Igbo rant rang out when one Adeyinka Grandson, also known as Adeyinka Shoyemi, the so-called president of the Young Yorubas for Freedom (YYF) secessionist group, started calling for the extermination of Ndigbo from the face of the earth. He was sentenced to four and a half years in a British prison in April 2022 for inciting violence against the Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria, which was in breach of the anti-racial hatred laws of the United Kingdom.
In contrast, Adedamola Adetayo is spreading his anti-Igbo hate campaign from Nigeria. He is in a haven where terrorists and bandits are welcomed as liberators and given amnesty and hero treatment. Adedamola Adetayo is protected from answering to the law; otherwise, Godson’s fate should already be his lot.
A quote from Adedamola Adetayo’s post will be helpful in case you missed the story in question: “HAMAS reportedly fired rockets into Israel from somewhere in Palestine, killing hundreds of Israeli residents, wounded thousands, and kidnapping many. It didn’t start out overnight; it has a history. It is for this reason that you need to comprehend the background of the Igbos’ actions in Yoruba land.”
Delusion and paranoia are seen as a dangerous precipitate in psychopathology. The worst is feared after delusion and paranoia are diagnosed by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, and that is schizophrenia, the mother of all mental diseases. Delusion is holding a false belief despite contrary facts and believing what no one else believes. Paranoia is morbid and irrational fear: the unwarranted or delusional belief that one is being persecuted, harassed, or betrayed by others, occurring as part of a mental condition. Adedamola Adetayo’s rant against Ndigbo and his profanity smack of such.
Before going back to the strange analogy that Adebayo painstakingly made between Igbo/Yoruba and Israel/Palestine, it is pertinent to draw attention to his absurd assertion that “The lands now known as Israel, which was known as Palestine up until 1948, never belonged to the Jews.” He claims to be unaware that the historical Jesus actually existed and did spend 33 years more than 2000 years in a place called Israel.
If the Jewish account is suspect to him, what of the History of Rome and that of Pontus Pilate, who served as the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea from 26/27 to 36/37 AD? He was appointed by Emperor Tiberius. Therefore, it is a very purposeful lie for this Adetayo to claim that Israel did not exist before 1917 or 1948 when exiled Jews returned.
Yes, Herzl Theodor and like-minded people began mobilising seriously for Jews from all over the world to return to their land after 2000 years to put an end to forced wandering. Jews eventually made their way back home in 1948, but by that point, Palestinians had taken control of their land, and that ignited the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The two-state solution would have been deployed to fit into the limited space of the two nations. But the Adetayos of this world would rather that the Jews continue to wander forever.
Let’s return to the Yoruba dominance by the Igbo that Adetayo conjured and compared to the conflict between Jews and Palestinians. Adetayo said that Nnamdi Azikiwe and numerous other Anambra people were in the same United States in the 1930s, and they were enthralled by the concept and development of Jewish Zionism at the time. He further claimed that Azikiwe clearly declared that “Nigeria was an inheritance of the Igbos” upon their return to Nigeria in the 1940s.
I have looked through the history books to find that statement – “Nigeria is the inheritance of the Igbos” – which the man credited to Zik and found nothing. Jaja Wachukwu, according to Adetayo, focused attention on Lagos by saying that “Lagos was a No Man’s Land”. Adedamola Adetayo’s claims are nothing more than hallucination, which is another precursor to the early stages of psychosis and involve seeing or hearing things that are not actually there.
He added that similar to how the Bedouins (Arabs) treated the Jews, Igbos were frequently handed useless swamps by Lagos’ “Awóris,” such as in the Amuwo-Odofin, Ajegunle, and Ojo districts. He sarcastically praised the Ndigbo for their inventiveness in converting swamps into livable land, but spurned their source of funding as “The Igbo Zionists have bought over half of Lagos today, from proceeds of drug crimes.” Without joining issues, records of Nigerians involved in the drug trade are out there and Ndigbo are certainly not leading the pack. So, Adetayo is only jealous of the Igbo’s phenomenal achievements.
According to Adetayo, the Anambra traders have been increasing their population in Lagos under the pretense of commerce and apprenticeship programmes, much in the same way, the Jews organised themselves in Kibbutz in Palestine. He concluded that as the Jews abruptly rose to demand equal rights on land with the Arabs, so are the Igbos currently demanding in Lagos.
He said that one day, Igbos will pressure Lagos to be split off and form a new one where they (Igbos) predominate. He says they almost all identify as Christians, and they will form ties with the Yoruba Christian community much like the Fulanis have with the Yoruba Muslim community. Hear him: “From Onitsha, they will cross the River Niger and start attacking you till they get to Lagos. Once they obtain Biafra, that is the plan. They aim to conquer all of Nigeria, or at least the southern half. In another 25 years (at the most), we will be dealing with an “Israeli-Palestinian” issue involving Yorubas and Igbos in Lagos.” If this assertion is not a delusional disorder, tell me what is.
It is only in Nigeria that a major ethnic would be profiled in this manner and the profiler is walking the streets free without interrogation by security agencies. Adedamola Adetayo and his allies’ false flag against the Igbos is something that should be taken seriously. They neglected the origins of the growing Ndigbo presence in Lagos and other places. Being an itinerant commercial ethnic group, Igbos are inevitably drawn to trade routes and global access points. The majority of them head east at Christmas since they won’t ever leave their roots, which is essentially the South-East. This trend shouldn’t be if acquiring other peoples’ lands is their goal.
Ndigbo are not expansionists and do not need to annex Lagos or any other area of Nigeria that is not historically theirs. They legitimately acquire land everywhere for their business, its growth, and its diversification, just like other Nigerians do around the nation, including in the South-East. Ndigbo are not land grabbers.
On the 5th of March 1862, the British acquired Lagos as a colony and Lagos also became the nation’s capital in 1914 after Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates. Earlier, in 1906, the Western and Eastern Protectorates were merged, with Lagos serving as the capital.
The point is that, as Nigeria’s capital, Lagos acquired a unique position of importance for Ndigbo and the rest of the nation. Lagos since then has also served as the nation’s commercial hub and main maritime centre.
The ports in the former Eastern region were booming before the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, but Lagos Ports were purposefully allowed to be the only ones operating in the true sense since after the war. This forced the rest of the country, including the Igbo importers and exporters, to concentrate in Lagos.
The South-East states are part of the states that make up Nigeria’s coastline that has been abandoned by the Federal Government. Igbo businessmen thus have no alternative to Lagos ports, and the South East states also lack the legal authority to create ports for their zone since ports are on the Exclusive List and the Federal Government is unwilling to develop or rehabilitate the Eastern ports.
Adedamola Adetayo intentionally disregarded this history, which is in plain sight, in favour of portraying Ndigbo as aggressive invaders. The solution is not inciting hatred against the Igbo ethnic group, who are in Lagos conducting their legal business. Even though ethnic swamping is a possibility if things stay the way, resenting Ndigbo is hardly the solution.
Ndigbo have no territorial ambition whatsoever. Their governing principle is “Live and let live” (egbe bere ugo bere). Because of this guiding philosophy, Ndigbo are the foremost democratic society and peacefully live with other ethnic groups within and outside Nigeria. They have no history of empire-building or warfare that marked most of the country. The Nigeria Biafra war was perhaps the first war in human history in which Ndigbo inevitably took part. The Igbo people had no alternative but to defend themselves to avoid annihilation after the Gowon regime rejected the Aburi Accord and waged war on the Old Eastern region.
Lagos must be saved, but not at the expense of Ndigbo. Lagos is currently the third most congested and unlivable metropolis in the entire globe because it is practically the only entry and exit port in the whole country. It is necessary to repair and reopen every port in the Niger Delta as well as open new ones, especially in the South East, which is barely 20 nautical miles from the Atlantic Ocean. That is how Lagos can be saved lest the swamping Adetayo is wolfing about may even get worse.
Ndigbo on their part should continue to maintain the South East as their ancestral home. They should invest more at home as a way of mitigating the Igbo migration that has been forced upon them by government policies that are intended to deny them access to the world by land, sea, or air.
Adedamola Adetayo and those who label Ndigbo as “desperate and aggressive” ought to understand that this is their natural reaction to the starvation regime that was imposed upon them throughout the war, as well as the meagre compensation of twenty pounds that was given to barely one percent of the Igbo survivors of the genocidal Nigerian Biafra war. They ought to quit fanning the flames of hostility between Yoruba and Igbo. If things are to work out between the two ethnic groups in Nigeria, they must support one another.
· Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.