The 25 February presidential and national assembly elections, as the Socialist Workers & Youth League, pointed out in a statement “involved large-scale rigging, intimidation of voters, and vote-buying by the four leading parties (APC, PDP, LP & NNPP) in their different areas of influence.
In Lagos, the ruling APC’s rabid attacks on Igbo people was an added layer that became even more vitriolic towards the 18 March gubernatorial and state houses of assembly elections, after LP’s defeat of Tinubu in his “home base shocked them.”
APC stalwarts claimed Igbo people in Lagos wanted to take over the state, describing Yoruba voting LP as bastards. The Igbo were called despicable names. Arsonists burned down the Akere spare parts market where most businesses were owned by Igbo.
Traditional authorities MC Olumo, a main muscleman of the APC warned Igbo people and those who would not vote APC to steer clear of polling units. Thugs targeted neighbourhoods with a high percentage of Igbo residents for violent voter suppression.
The Igbopobia did not stop with the elections. After the rigging-enabled victory of governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for a second term, Bayo Onanuga, who as a journalist stood up against the military in the 1980s/90s, but is now the spokesperson for the APC campaign team, had these chilling words to say:
“Let 2023 be the last time of Igbo interference in Lagos politics. Let there be no repeat in 2027. Lagos is like Anambra, Imo, any Nigerian state. It is not No Man’s Land, not Federal Capital Territory. It is Yoruba land. Mind your business.”
The APC faction of the ruling class, hiding its politics behind the mask of ethnicity, has thus set the stage for taking Igbopobia beyond its regular use as a campaign tactic in Lagos. They played up the fact the mother and wife of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the LP candidate, are both Igbo to paint the picture of an Igbo takeover by stealth. But the Oba of Lagos also threatened to drive Igbo people into the Lagoon in 2015 if they failed to vote Akinwunmi Ambode, the APC candidate as governor.
Igbopobic politics is a clear testament to the responsibility of several factions of the ruling class. The ruling class has showed that they have learnt nothing from the horrors of the Civil War, or do not care, so long as their short-term interests are met.
As working-class activists, as revolutionary youths, we must stand up against this ill wind of Igbopobia that throws divisions into our ranks and make us pliable for “our” own capitalists, whose interests do not include our liberation. The politicisation of ethnicity serves the interests of the ruling class. We must not fall for their tricks.
by Baba Aye