The Igbo nation
So, a young man was given access to a microphone, on a radio station and then he started spreading a hate message, which has resonated with a number of his fellow ethnic group. It makes you wonder, did the Igbo people have hate in their heart all along? Or was this young man responsible for digging deep into the consciousness of the Igbo people and unearthing deep rooted hate for their fellow human being which has been lying dormant there waiting for a special calling?
In these times, many have refused to use their minds, their brains, their thinking faculty or whatever else provides all human beings the ability to reason, to plan and to position for long term success and prosperity. The other day I watched a program on National Geographic Channel, in which it showed a new technology that allows a man to use his thoughts (mind control) to control a flying drone. I also watched a driverless car which could drive hundreds of miles without a human driver. And then there was an experimental Nano robot (microscopic size engineering feat), which could be injected into the blood stream of a patient and it circulates the body to hunt down disease carrying pathogens. The developments and the excitement of technologies of the future are phenomenal. Unfortunately, my people, the Igbo people are completely distracted from these revolutionary advancements in Human kind, as they have currently engulfed themselves in a petty ethnic, tribal bickering and potential conflict which has the potential to wipe out the entire wealth and gains of the Igbo Nation over the past 50 years.
They said Igbos are marginalized
Well I don’t agree, it seems those who choose to peddle this falsehood are using what Chimamanda Adichie (the celebrated Nigerian writer) calls the single narrative story. They are judging marginalization based on who and who gets Federal Government appointments. So they make a great issue out of the fact that Igbos are not at the helm of affairs of any major Federal Government agency and that the Igbos are not in the leadership of the Nigerian military or any of other paramilitary agencies. This may be true but it’s not the full story. The single narrative story is a dangerous form of propaganda which is designed to deceive, and in this case the young Igbo people seem to have bought the story, hook, line and sinker.
Below is what those spreading these HATE messages and marginalization stories don’t want you to know:
Igbos are the wealthiest group of people in present day Nigeria: all studies conducted by all international and multilateral agencies have demonstrated that Igbo have the highest per-capita income of all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. In fact, there are communities in Igbo land, such as some villages in Nnewi, where you cannot find any poor people. If the truth be told the poorest people in Nigeria live in the Northern part of the country. And according to a study by the World Bank, if Northeastern Nigeria were a separate country, it would be the poorest place in the entire World.
Igbos are the most successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria: The Igbo entrepreneur is arguably the most successful business person in Nigeria. In fact, Igbos have completely taken over some major industries in Nigeria, where Igbos provide over 80% of the business services. Igbo dominated industries (over 80%) in Nigeria include, Road Transportation (Buses), Spare Parts, Electronic devices, Pipeline laying, Petroleum Tank Farms, Computer Technology, Cooking Gas, Building materials, Boutique Hotels, International Trade, Wines and Liquor, Cosmetics, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Private Hospitals, Oil Servicing, independent Filling Stations, tyres, watches, office equipment, household fittings, tiles and flooring, shoes and leather products, markets, shopping malls and plazas, medium and low cost housing, SME manufacturing etc. the list goes on and on.
Igbos are the most educated group of people in Nigeria: whereas there is affirmative action which lowers the standards to allow for Northern students to catch up with their southern Nigerian counterparts, if the truth be told, the Igbo students will take up all available spaces in all schools in Nigeria if this affirmative action were not in place. The records continue to show that Igbo students far out perform their counterparts from other parts of Nigeria, in all external examinations.
Igbos are the most exposed and most traveled: in fact, of the estimated 500,000 Nigerians living, working and schooling in the United States it is estimated that over 60% of them are Igbos. It is therefore no surprise that the United States Census Bureau states that Nigerians are the most educated immigrant group in the United States, this may be as a result of the high Igbo population in the USA. In addition, the USA Nigerian diaspora are recorded as being the immigrant group with the highest average earning capacity, far out earning their African American counterparts.
Igbos have the highest value of investments around Nigeria: in 2006, the then Minister of Federal Capital Territory Malam El Rufai stated that Igbos owned over 60% of the landed property in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory. He was Minister then, so he should know. And guess what, that was nine years ago. I understand that the percentage has grown to more like 70% today. The same story is told of Igbo investments in Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano, all across Northern Nigeria. In fact, Igbos have invested in every town, city and community across Nigeria with no apologies. That’s what we do. We are investors, risk takers and business people. This is not going to change any time soon.
I don’t want to go much further as you are slowly getting my point by now. So where is this modern-day agitation for Biafra coming from? Why have some people convinced some Igbo people that they are suffering, that they are slaves in their own country, whereas the Igbo, in terms of business and commerce, most probably own the entire country? Our lack of access to Federal Government appointments currently, has not stopped us and it has not even slowed us down. So, what’s all the noise about? In any case we only recently produced the Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Minister of Petroleum (by marriage) Mrs D. Madueke, the Chief of Army Staff, General Ihejirika, etc
My take is simple, if the Igbo truly want Biafra then we must be prepared to loose our advantages in business and commerce which has been built on a large Nigerian market over the last 50 years. Having said that, I do not think a majority of the Igbo people want Biafra or any other new Nation for that matter. We do want to be treated fairly in a restructured well repositioned and prosperous Nigeria, and we do want a meritocratic society in which our goals and aspirations can be pursued without discrimination.
The Igbo Nation is about brotherly love, not hate as some will want us to believe and so we believe very strongly in affirmative action, we expect that a new restructured and repositioned Nigeria will continue to provide affirmative action to our northern brothers and sisters especially as regards their access to education, investment and healthcare. We would love to have the opportunity to keep investing all over Nigeria and the rest of Africa and even the World. We do also want to use this period of mixed messages to also provide a deep-rooted focus on investment in South Eastern Nigeria for a change. Maybe if the young people who have been agitating are given an opportunity to build a business or to get a job, the crafty misguided people that are misleading them will no longer have members to call on. I call on all well-meaning people of Nigeria, especially the Igbo people to join me in promoting an initiative designed to stimulate a monumental investment drive for the Southeastern Nigeria that will create over one million new jobs and completely diffuse this agitation for Biafra.
I love Nigeria and I love the Igbo people, we are one and the same. And a few overzealous, ill-informed young people will never change these facts.
Dr. Okoye is convener Nigeria Leadership Summit and founder EMPOWER NIGERIA