As we celebrate the 62nd independence anniversary of our country, I will like to take us back into memory lane so we can all appreciate the significance of Lagos in the colonization story of the country. Owing to the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos and its being a major commercial center on the West African coast, Lagos was the first part of Nigeria to be colonized by the British authorities when Lagos was declared a colony on the 5th of March 1862.
The rest of the country came under British control after the Berlin conference ceded the area that was later to become Nigeria to the British in 1885. However, while the other territories were administered as the Protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria before they were eventually amalgamated in 1914, Lagos always had a unique status because of its strategic commercial importance to the British and it was never administered as part of the protectorates but as a separate colony on its own.
Owing to the strategic importance of Lagos, the city was naturally chosen to be the capital of the country when the colony of Lagos was amalgamated with the two other Protectorates in 1914. As a result of this and booming commercial activities in the city, Lagos enjoyed a rapid rate of development and by the time of independence in 1960, Lagos had become the most developed state in the country even as it evolved into a mega city. Today Lagos boasts of a population of 22 million people and a GDP that is estimated to be 15.3% of the country’s GDP, yet despite all the wealth and potential, the state has not been able to live up to expectations as it was recently rated by the Economist magazine as the second worst city in the world to live in, ahead of only Damascus in war-torn Syria.
One will begin to wonder why a city that has so many resources and potential is failing to meet up to expectations while less-endowed cities around the world are faring better. The answer is not far-fetched, while Lagos gained independence along with the rest of Nigeria in 1960, our dear state has since been re-colonized internally and as in all colonial systems the resources of the state are being used to first satisfy the greed of the ‘colonizers’ and their cronies, and it is only what is left after satisfying them that is used to attend to the needs of the remaining 22 million Lagosians who provide the resources the colonizers are allocating to themselves. For this reason, despite all the wealth of the state, the people are not able to feel the impact or enjoy the benefits of this wealth.
As we celebrate Nigeria’s Independence Day today, let us bear in mind that Lagos has indeed been recolonized and it is up to us as Lagosians to free our state from those who believe that they own Lagos and it’s their birthright to subjugate the rest of us. We have to fight for our Lagos, we have to fight for our rights, and only when we have done this can our state be truly independent.
I invite you all to come on board and join the struggle for a truly independent Lagos as we build a movement that will set Lagos free through the ballot box next year. Let’s all join hands to build the Lagos of our dreams.
Lagos needs a breath of fresh air.
Ja Fun Eto e