Sunday 5 March 2023

Lagos Before Nigeria

More than 50 years before the creation of Nigeria as a united entity, Lagos is already a major centre of modern civilisation.

Lagos history is rich in Yoruba tradition, trade and commerce, infrastructural development and cosmopolitanism." -EXTRACTED

In the past few days, I have followed the unhealthy debate between easterners in Lagos and their host and I must say that such is really uncalled for.

No tribe or race is an island of knowledge and civilisation. At one time or the other, each one of them contributed in one way or the other.

While it is proper for every one to feel good about themselves and try as much as possible to amplify in a good way, their importance and contribution to the society they live in, it is also very crucial to take into account, the reality of other factors without attempting to ridicule the contribution of others.

I therefore advise all those joining the discuss to thread with caution and avoid things that are capable of setting our people apart rather than bringing them together.

Let it clear that every resident of Lagos and every part of Nigeria deserves to be accorded due regard in the place they live. They deserve the respect accorded to them by the laws of the land and we should never interfere when they exercise their rights, because only in an atmosphere of peace and respect will friendship strive.

Having stated the above, let's put some facts to the ground:

(1). Historically, before the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, communication technology which is a major signifier of civilization in the world had been existing in Lagos for almost 75years. By 1856, Cable and Wireless Company of the UK had commissioned a submarine cable link between Lagos and London and in 1851 a post office was established in Lagos.

(2). In August 1896, Charles Joseph George and G.W. Neville, both merchants and both unofficial members of the Legislative Council, presented a petition urging construction of the railway terminus on Lagos Island rather than at Ido, and also asking for the railway to be extended to Abeokuta.

(3). While Lagos was already in the communication discussion since as far back as 1851, Calabar which was the first in the eastern axis to get connected had its telephone in 1923. That's more than 70years after Lagos has had its telecommunication on and between 1946 and 1952, a three-channel line carrier system was commissioned between Lagos and Ibadan and was later extended to Osogbo, Kaduna, Kano, Benin, and Enugu.

(4). The first Yoruba lawyer Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the English Bar in 1879 whilst the first Igbo lawyer, Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar in 1937. In other words, the Yoruba are already producing lawyers for about 40 years before the amalgamation of Nigeria, while the east only had its first lawyer about 20 years after the creation of Nigeria as a united entity.

(5). Again, the first Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in 1875 from the University of Edinburgh, 55 years earlier before the first Igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish University in 1935. This also means that, Yoruba had produced a medical doctor 40 years before the amalgamation of Nigeria, while the east only had its first medical doctor about 20 years after amalgamation.

(6). Many are aware that Nigeria had the first television station in Africa. But unknown to many, Nigeria actually had a television station before European giant France ever had it and long before many European countries ever dreamt of it courtesy of Awolowo.

So, In all honesty, it is crass ignorance to claim that Lagos was built with Nigeria's money or developed by people from the east.

While it maybe true that being a federal capital might have assisted its development in one way or the other, certainly Lagos development predates the creation of Nigeria. Let me also add that, majority of people who went to Lagos from the east and other parts of the country did so because they knew Lagos had and still has development never seen before in their own places.

(7). The first storey building in Nigeria was built in Marina, Badagry in 1845. This was 70years before the creation of Nigeria. This was a time when such building couldn't have been imagined anywhere else in the country.

(8). The first Igbo alphabet-character set and Igbo primer (Isoama-Ibo) was published by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (a Yoruba man from Osogun) in 1857. Nobody knew how he came to do this. But this shows some level of advancement prior to the amalgamation of Nigeria. It also shows that before colonialist amalgamated us, we are already working together.

The above is to set the record straight and inform those ascribing development in a particular place to certain people.

We can all do better

By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat

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