The United Kingdom has bemoaned the widespread ethnic profiling and dog whistling which led to voter suppression and intimidation in the just concluded general election, especially in Lagos state.
The UK stated that the strength and beauty of Lagos is in its status as potpourri of culture and religion and should be recognised as a liberal and cosmopolitan city.
Ben Llewellyn-Jones, British deputy high commissioner to Nigeria, stated this on Sunday in an interview with Nigeria Info FM.
A few days to the Lagos governorship election, divisive statements and ethnic slurs were pervasive on and off social media.
Musiliu Akinsanya, popular known as MC Oluomo, a loyalist of former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu, was seen in a viral warning those, especially Igbos, who intended to vote another party aside from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to stay away from the polling station.
The division and ethnic profiling reached a feverish height when voters of south-east extraction were attacked in some parts of Lagos during the governorship polls.
Condemning the attacks, Llewellyn-Jones said such moves would only impede the growth of Lagos as many mega cities around the world have recorded huge strides because of their diversity of human capital.
“If you live in London, you are a Londoner, a British-Pakistan, is a Londoner. The British Prime Minister lives in London. My boss, the British foreign Secretary is clearly British-Sierra Leone and lives in London, they are Londoners,” he said
“Why is it that people who pay taxes, who work, who provide teachers, who built businesses, who create jobs, who live in Lagos, who happen to be from a different ethnicity to some other people are not Lagosians? Of course, they are. The strength of Lagos is its diversity, and if Lagos can’t be that kind of cosmopolitan melting pot of culture and language and all the things it should be, then really how is Lagos going to succeed?
“People chanting anti-Igbo messages and walking on the streets by polling units on elections day is totally unacceptable. Not just in Lagos, but also in Enugu and Rivers were we had our teams as well and many other places.
“It was a very much tougher day for voters which shouldn’t be. But we saw people vote in spite of that, which is truly impressive about the elections.
“I think the right question to people who have been driving these ethnic kind of languages would be, when you go to cities around the world like London, what do you see when you see the success of those places? Because the success of those places are not built upon division but upon unity.
“I think that people who are still using that kind of language should stop, and the party they represent should be saying to them ‘stop now, this is not in our name and you are wrong’.”
After winning his re-election bid as governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu called for unity in the state and condemned attacks fuelled by ethnic discord.
He said elections should be based on competence and experience rather than ethnicity or religion, adding that the “true Lagos spirit” a welcoming and liberal.