During my NYSC camp in Olokuma Opokuma Kayama, Bayelsa State in 2013, the camp commandant told those of us complaining about how they can not go across water, that if they reach their PPA and fail to find an Igbo man there, they should report back immediately to him for onward and immediate reposting. Low and behold, even those that went deeper into the sea and inside the creeks never returned for reposting. An evidence they all met at least one Igbo man in their various places of primary assignment.
This is to tell you how far an Igbo man has traveled and acclimatized with every part of the country called Nigeria. Some have argued that Igbo man is the only ‘True Nigerian’, contrary to what many are thinking today. Igbo man is living the true creed of nationhood in a country most of us call Nigeria. It is only an Igbo man that can travel from home to a faraway place, an unknown place, establish and make it another home. He builds houses and makes it his own home. Unlike an Hausa man who will live inside their mosque while changing millions of Dollars for a whooping 30 years in one “ama awusa” somewhere in Owerri without building one single house or renting one. It is not even news that the richest man in Northern Nigeria and probably the richest in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote does not have even a single of his numerous companies situated in Ala Igbo. The only things he can lay claim to are his numerous Trailers crisscrossing the rough and bumpy Eastern Nigeria roads distributing his goods and products.
Same thing can be said about a Yoruba man. You hardly see a Yoruba man build outside his Yoruba state. For many years now powerful but mischievous Yoruba Nigeria gutter media have been telling whoever that cared to listen that the reason they don’t build in Eastern Nigeria is because Ndi Igbo does not sell lands to them. A lie that have been long exposed, thanks to social media. One may want to ask a Yoruba man this questions. If Igbo man refuses to sell his land, what of the lands belonging to Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio or Oron? Did they also refused selling to you like their Igbo brothers? Did Northerners also refused to sell lands to Yoruba people when they were selling to Ndi Igbo in their enclave? Why is it that in almost all the Northern States there is an Igbo settlement with lands bought and houses built by Ndi Igbo. There are Markets, Hospitals, Schools and even Hotels owned exclusively by Ndi Igbo. That same Ndi Igbo have big stake in Lagos. Same Ndi Igbo whose properties were declared abandoned properties have within the space of 50years bought back all those properties, that was when all the monies they had in Nigeria banks prior to the war was stolen by the Nigerian government.
Ndi Igbo also found themselves scattered around the world. It is also said that there is no country in the world you can not find an Igbo man. Don’t take my word for it, just make your own research and I stand to be corrected. Ndi Igbo have assets more outside Igbo land than they can boast of within their own territory. This has turned into a bitter curse to Ndi Igbo rather than becoming a blessing and it made them vulnerable for a long time but not anymore because freedom has come. This is because an Igbo man have refused to bring his exploits back home. They have this believe that their business cannot flourish well if they bring it home. These are genuine concerns. A lot of things discourages an Igbo man from establishing his business at home. An Igbo man will rather start a business in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja or Jos than bring it down home to Onitsha, Aba, Owerri or Port Harcourt.
Some Reasons Why Ndi Igbo Finds It Hard To Think Home
Here I am going to point out some of the things that hinder Ndi Igbo from bringing their businesses home. I will try to make it brief.
1. Feeling of Insecurity – An Igbo man feels that he is a target in Nigeria. He feels that his land is under siege and his name something Nigeria establishment always don’t want to hear. In Igbo land, you hardly cross one kilometer without meeting battle ready police or military checkpoints with officials that seemed to have been detailed to make life difficult for Ndi Igbo living and doing businesses in Igbo land. They pay through their noses in there own land through military and police extortion. Something that is not good for business. Business men in Igbo land will be made to spend thousands of Naira before their goods can finally rest either in Main-market Onitsha or Ariria Aba. Customs, Army, Immigration are always there to extort money and intimidate Igbo businessmen.
2. Nearness To Seaports – Nigerian Government for the past 50years seemed to have reached a consensus to deny Ndi Igbo sea ports. There is no river that made history in Nigeria more than River Niger. The reason Mongo Park took the pains to discover an already discovered river by our ancestors, was to open up trade not just in Nigeria but entire West Africa. This shows that if properly harnessed, River Niger would have increased trade in West Africa. But unfortunately opening up River Niger will benefit a people Nigeria has agreed to perpetually keep down and subjugate. That is why they extended same treatment to neighboring ports like Warri, Akwaibom and Calabar Ports. Even Port Harcourt sea port is not functional, that is when Lagos state alone sits on three sea ports, with Kano and Kaduna enjoying land dry ports. The difficulty of bringing down goods from Lagos down to Onitsha or Aba has forced many Ndi Igbo to settle in Lagos or any other Northern States.
3. Unavailability Of International Airport – It is worthy to note here that for the first time after the war in 1970, it was just four years ago, during Goodluck Jonathan’s era that the first International flight took off from Eastern Nigeria. That was a region that maintained the busiest airport in the whole world in 1967/70 under severe bombardment from Nigeria and their British government supporters. Ndi Igbo travel miles on roads before they can travel out of Nigeria via Lagos, Abuja or Kaduna. The so called Enugu International Airports is still not functional due to some of the reasons I listed above.
Struggling For Survival
In all these things the Igbo has been struggling to survive. Leading in this struggle for survival is the Nnewi man. The symbol of think home mentality. Right from the start, Nnewi man have armed himself with the think home mentality. One would have wondered where the Igbo man would have been without the wisdom and ingenuity of an Nnewi man. Nnewi man here also represents all other Ndi Igbo that are bringing their goods home. Currently, the highest cluster of indigenous companies in Africa are in Nnewi. The ‘Onye aghana nwanne ya’ spirit of the Igbo is strong in the mind of an Nnewi man. Innoson motors and others still stand tall in Nnewi.
All Ndi Igbo should as a matter of fact borrow this good side of Nnewi people and start thinking home. It’s a call for all Ndi Igbo to start establishing their business empires in Igbo land. Ndi Igbo should stop thinking that they need Nigerian market more for then to sell. In actual sense it is Nigeria that needs an Igbo man. Ndi Igbo must start targeting the wilder African markets. That’s a sure way to go.
Things To Avoid
Ndi Igbo should avoid the superiority mentality among themselves. A man from Imo should not see himself as more superior Igbo than another from Anambra and Anambra man should not look down on an Ebonyi or Abia man. It is only an ignorant man that holds strongly to this Nigeria divide and rule mechanism called state creation. Sadly many don’t know the history of state creation. Gowon balkanized the regions into 12 states as to sow seeds of discord, to make sure Biafrans of 1966 lose their unity. All Ndi Igbo before ever the states were created were all in the Eastern region. Before the name Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo came into existence we were all Ndi Igbo. That some Ndi Igbo were carved into what is today called South South doesn’t make them less an Igbo.
Finally, Ndi Igbo should start thinking of what to do to make Ala Igbo greater. This is the time for the elites, the governors and Ndi Eze to drop their slave mentality and work towards a greater Igbo nation. They should understand that the era of what Abuja want has gone. Ndi Igbo have successfully dethroned the powers of the caliphate and the people have taken over power. Governors should start aligning with their people in sincerity. They should start creating an enabling environment for the industrialization of Ala Igbo. They should understand their youths, bond more with them and not sell them out to the caliphate for slaughter like it happened in Onitsha, Nkpor, Aba and Umuahia. They should rather connect Ala Igbo with railways than open her up for cattle colonies.
Start thinking Igbo.