This week, the flames burnt and the bodies piled in Agiliti and then on to Maidan and even as far as Orile, Mile 12 in Lagos state as a clash between the two ethnic groups living cheek by jowl – Hausa Fulani and Yoruba.
From all indications, it would seem that the fight erupted when a Hausa okada driver was going up the wrong way on a busy street and knocked over a Yoruba woman. Some reports have it that this woman died, others are not so sure who, what, when or where, but it is certainly clear that the life-threatening situation is as a result of over non-adherence to traffic rules by the Okada operators who are majorly people of Northern descent and who ply one-way on the newly constructed Mile 12 – Oniyanrin – Agiliti Road.
Reports have it that lives have been lost, while houses and cars have been razed by fire. Scores of residents are also injured despite the presence of the Law Enforcement agents ie. the Army and the Police. Unfortunately, it was reliably gathered that the Army and the Police who are in the area to maintain law and order are supporting the Hausas against the Yorubas.
This has aided the fight to spread uncontrolled to Maidan and even to Orile as seen in this video of desolation below:
I have never been an advocate of knee-jerk stereotyping, it does no good to simply look at a problem prima facie and boil it down to “It’s those pesky Hausas again!” although it certainly seems like the North is quick to acts of violence and their acts spread ever farther down south.
Neither have I ever joined the clamouring for splitting up Nigeria. It is so easy to sit in beer parlours – either those made of bricks and mortar or those found on Social Media – and agitate for a divided nation.
And a division would be sooooo cool, right? Until an oba tells Igbo people to jump into the Lagos Lagoon and the Igbos want to be split from their Oodua brethren.
And every Ife man knows that the Modakeke people are the true troublemakers in Ile-Ife, just as the Itsekiris know that they are nobler than the Urhobos.
Chop, chop chop.
Let’s split the country into smaller portions yet.
And then here comes the mixed race children. Biko, those of us with a father from one part of the country and a mother from another, where do we go? Or are we just casualties of this delightful divisions?
So if these knee-jerk responses are not the way forward, what is the future for these ongoing battles that break out from time to time?
Well, it is no secret that the Mile 12, Ketu area is a flashpoint for breakouts of violence. This is the umpteenth time fighting and loss of life has broken out in this area, and only a myopic governor will ignore the strife once peace is restored. Dealing with this situation can NOT be reactive. Positive proactive steps must be taken to ensure that these outbursts are eliminated entirely.
And if you must react to violence, sending Hausa soldiers and police to ensure peace in a Lagos suburb is…well, you might as well get the gasoline and strike the match yourself.
Personally, I believe that the market should be moved to a dedicated market site.
Yes, that has been its location for as long as we’ve had bus conductors screaming “Mile 12, Mile 12, Orile Mile 12! Wole pelu change e o!!” But since that time, millions of naira has been spent widening the road, creating a BRT lane, and trying to raise Mile 12 to the same level as the rest of Lagos, and having a market meandering through all of that can only lead to accidents and aggression.
Let a market have stalls, let each market seller have their dedicated space. Tomatoes, BRT fumes, okada tyres and careless limbs shouldn’t all be fighting for space.
Secondly, let’s keep the traffic moving. Time was the Hausa salesmen were merely importers. They came to the markets, offloaded their fresh produce and then headed back up north. Over time, more and more of these young men hopped off the backs of trucks and hung around. With no home, no money and nothing to lose, they loitered. And there is nothing worse than an idle young man. So much potential, so much despondency, so much anger, all captured in a vessel of boredom. They’re just waiting for something to pop off.
You come to drop stuff off? Get back in your trailer and drive off. If one person is left behind in a busy marketplace, it will simply add to the aggression and casual xenophobia that seethes daily.
Finally, it is imperative that every trader be registered. We need to know who comes and goes on a daily basis. This way, if Baba Amuda beats up an okada man or Hassan burns Iya Funke’s shop, we know who they are and forbid them from coming back to the market.
The amount of violence that goes unchecked in the name of “We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they come from, we don’t even know what they sell or what they were looking for in this market” is astounding.
Whatever happens, I hope Ambode does not view this issue as “Have they started again?” but instead sits down with elders in the community to form long-lasting solutions to these violent outbursts.
Eko o ni baje o! O baje ti!!
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