Nigeria’s works and housing minister, Babatunde Fashola, says he sees no problems with the ethnic strain that marred the last general election in Lagos, arguing that identity politics is now a global trend.
The election, especially the March 18 governorship poll was fraught will voter intimidation and violence inspired by ethnic slurs against non indigenous Lagosians, especially the Igbos.
But Mr Fashola, a former Lagos governor, said on Channels TV Sunday night that people must learn to accept the new reality of divisive politics.
“Now let me go to ethnic and all of these. You see there is a gaining currency of identity politics globally and nobody should start trying to hide behind a finger,” Mr Fashola said in answering a question on the subject.
“There is identity politics all over the world. So people vote and are impacted in making choices by so many items of stimulus. It may be my identity, it may be my faith, it might be how you cut your hair, it may be how you knot your tire. So many things influence the voter. So you can’t wish those things away.”
Elucidating on electoral violence during the elections, Mr Fashola said though “one incident of violence in election in my country does not cover us in glory,” the level of violence was not too worrying.
“That said, when you look at violence and the number of polling units disrupted, they are too insignificant compared to what we have seen in elections in the past. This was the election that had the least incident of violence,” he added.
In the run up to the Lagos guber poll, notorious Lagos this, Musiliu “MC Oluomo” Akinsanya, threatened Igbos who would not vote for his party APC to stay away from voting.
In a crude enforcement of MC Oluomo’s threat, thugs ran riot across the street of Lagos, barring and assaulting any voter they cannot confirm their loyalty to APC.
As a result, the United Kingdom Government condemned ethnic profiling and disenfranchisement of Igbos in Lagos during the governorship election of March 18.
“People chanting anti-Igbo messages and walking on the streets by polling units on election day is totally unacceptable. Not just in Lagos, but also in Enugu and Rivers where we had our teams as well and many other places,” Ben Llewellyn-Jones, British deputy high commissioner to Nigeria, said.