In response to popular demand, 9News Nigeria presents the full text of the speech in a viral video made by Nollywood celebrity, Charles Okafor regarding recent rampage destructions carried out by hoodlums in Lagos state following shooting of #EndSars protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate Lagos.
My name is Charles Izuchukwu Okafor !
Am a sad man today!
You know I was born here in Lagos, had my primary education here in Lagos, I attended the prestigious Saint Gregory’s college here in Lagos, before I set out to the University of Port Harcourt for my first degree, I returned to Lagos for the mandatory national youth service programme here in Lagos, and proceeded to the University of Lagos Akoka, here in Lagos for my masters degree.
Am a sad man today!
Those who know me, physically and by reputation, will tell you that I’ve had nothing to do with politics. I have never had course to make political comments. I have always elected to play within my professional space and thoughts, as a career Actor, film maker and advocacy business man, but today, I am a sad man.
Lagos has given me, the latitude to accomplish so much in terms of my professional calling, living as a family man, my lovely wife and children live with me, here in Lagos.
My wife works here in Lagos, my children go to school, here in Lagos. The best friends I have largely, are in Lagos and particularly from the south-western part of Nigeria – Yorubas. Great friends who have become brothers to me, class mates at saint Gregory’s college, a few from my primary school, who have taken me in, not just as class mates or friend, but genuinely-sincerely as brother.
I AM A SAD MAN,.. To think that today in Lagos, certain elements would want to put a wedge to the consummate harmony that exists between the Yoruba and the Igbos.
The entire scenario that played out a couple of days verging to a week or more that had to do with the peaceful protest, I allied with totally. There was reason, to protest peacefully to end mayhem, bloodshed, violence, intimidation orchestrated by the now proscribed Special Anti Robbery Squad, (SARS), and other concomitant consequences arising from this very mad experience as perpetrated by the now proscribed SARS.
I had cause to speak and to lend my voice in saying that, not only should SARS be proscribed and all those perpetrators brought to justice, but that we should also capitalise on this particular genuine, patriotic, non- partisan, non- tribal, non-ethnic move, by the critical demographic of the Nigerian state, “the youth”, in speaking out for police reforms. The intentions were genuine and patriotic. Only to wake up to see Arson. Our beautiful Lagos, lined with beautiful infrastructural edifices, I BLEAD”, that, that historical noble City Hall, has been set alight. I BLEAD, that the Nigerian ports authority on marina, I BLEAD, that the governor’s mother’s house, along with shop rite in Surulere and many other places have been touched. I can say form here that responsible young men and women, couldn’t have done that, not the same set of people I met when I joined in that peaceful protest over a week ago.
But to be clear, to be clear, do we burn these critical edifices, we only end up “cutting our faces to spite our noses” WHY? whether we like it or not, we’ll begin to reach out to our meagre treasury to begin to embark upon the duty of rehabilitating, reconstructing and remaking these institutions.
But profoundly, what has kept me awake all night is, this very painful, erroneous and dangerous allegation that certain elements of igbo extraction, perpetrated arson and other forms of violence against the Yorubas.
IT IS NOT TRUE !
Not the igbo that I am, not the igbo that I know here in Lagos, who have built estates, who have built businesses, who have employed people across tribal lines, not the Igbo that have gone ahead to marry even into noble Yorubas families, not the Igbo that speak yorubas as much as I do. You know, as an actor, I have starred in Yoruba films. I can name, “Ekowenjele’ produced by Sunday Soyinka, “Omo-Iyakona.
I recall that I did a road show for these films, working with my colleague Bukky Wright who did KKK ( kodun kopo kope), and we did a south-western road show for these films.
I have worked with Jide-Kosoko in Lagos here and in Enugu, a versatile actor.
Do you know that Olu Jacobs, one of the best that we have in this country on several occasions, has worked with us in the East, playing “Igwe” in the Igbo land and he exhibited dexterity in terms of role interpretation. Together with many other Yoruba seasoned actors, who have worked with us, up and down this country, on the Niger, here in Lagos.
I can’t imagine, that some people would want to put a wedge to what has bound us together over the years..
I BLEED TODAY, but I want to plead that whoever is orchestrating this should please stop, God is not happy with you.
We should chat the path, not only of peace, but of mutual co-existence. We are going through sobering trajectories at this time in our national life, let nobody parade himself as a leader of the Igbo youths, anywhere in the world and make incinerating pronouncements, provocative pronouncements that are capable of setting us against the Yoruba people who have been great hosts to us for centuries.
No Igbo man who has come to Lagos, left Lagos unsuccessful, except those who deliberately orchestrated their own failure. The land of Lagos and Yoruba land in general, have been of immense accomplishment to the Igbo man.
The Igbo man is accommodating equally; The Igbo man is brotherly and is friendly, adventurous; The igbo man reaches out to every nook and cranny in the quest for self determination.
Let nobody break this beautiful love story; Let nobody by share- provocative pronouncements anywhere in the world, put the Igbo man or pitch the Igbo man against the Yoruba man.
Can I speak to my Yoruba brothers and sisters; WE LOVE YOU! I CHARLES OKAFOR TOGETHER WITH MY FAMILY, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES; THE ENTIRE OKAFOR FAMILY.
My father lived and died here in Lagos, my mother lived and died here in Lagos, they spoke Yoruba.
In my father’s business, the people who were his very trusted lieutenants, Baba Risi, Baba Saheed, Baba Maria and many others were like brothers to my father, their wives were like mothers to us.
WE LOVE YOU!
And so please, discountenance any provocative pronouncements from anybody. No igbo man could have done anything against beautiful iconic edifices, the City Hall, Nigeria port Authority, Shoprite, the Oba’a Palace, NO WAY! NO IGBO MAN COULD HAVE DONE THAT!
And please don’t let anybody sell you a dummy that will provoke you. The truth of the matter is that, we are going through a season that is thirsty and sobering, but it is wisdom for us to be circumspect and to ensure that in our prayers, in our daily supplications, we have at the back of our minds, that the devil is not happy that we remain united. We are going to overcome our challenges as a country, I believe that the leaders have woken up, i believe that peace will return to this country, but before then, let us not stoke the embers of disunity.
Let nobody provoke the Yoruba, let nobody provoke the igbo.
MY HEART BLEEDS!
Amape Amagbo ( We will live long, with a life full of wisdom and experience).
God bless Everybody.
Transcribed By Blessing O. Ejianya (9News Nigeria)