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Jimi Agbaje during the debate

Warning to Jimi Agbaje: Your “affirmative action” proposal is illegal

15 January 2019

Jimi Agbaje, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the governorship of Lagos State, said during a debate with other candidates last night: “Our people, who are indigenes of the state, must appreciate that it is the contributions of other people who come to Lagos that make it tick. Lagos is a cosmopolitan city, where everyone should have a space, but, that does not detract from the fact that indigenes of the state would be relegated.

“I will ensure an affirmative plan of action or policy is put in place to ensure, at least, 25 percent of opportunities coming from the state are reserved for the indigenes.”

It is shocking that a candidate from a major party for the governorship of Nigeria’s most important state, in terms of contributions to the economy and the most cosmopolitan state in the country, would either be so brazen in proposing illegality or be actually ignorant of the fact that what he is proposing is unlawful.

If, and it is a big “if”, Agbaje wins the (s)election next month, he will swear an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Constitution states in Chapter 4, Section 42: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-

(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or

(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.”

In simple terms, this means that no citizen can be restricted from what is available to others on grounds of ethnicity, state of origin and so on. And no citizen can be subjected to privileges or advantages denied to others on grounds of ethnicity, state of origin and so on.

So Agbaje was advocating an unconstitutional and discriminatory policy. If he was aware of the illegality of his proposal, it is shameful that he still advocated it presumably pandering in search of votes to the prejudices of “indigenes”. If he was unaware that his proposal is unconstitutional, then his ignorance questions his fitness for high office.

This is why Naijiant.com insisted that every Nigeria should read the Constitution.

Awareness of their constitutional rights is critical for all Lagosians, indigene and non-indigene, in order to be able to make the right choices when they cast their votes.

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