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Wanted: Ndigbo diaspora commission

By Prince Okey-Joe Onuakalusi
16 July 2021   |   3:09 am
The cognitive endowments of man constitute precisely what distinguishes him from other sentient beings. In 1758, Carolus Linnaeus described the man as ‘Homo Sapiens’.


The cognitive endowments of man constitute precisely what distinguishes him from other sentient beings. In 1758, Carolus Linnaeus described the man as ‘Homo Sapiens’.

The word ‘Homo’ is the Latin word for ‘Human,’ and ‘Sapiens’ is the word for ‘wise.’ That is to say in combination, ‘Wise Human’. In this sense, Homo sapiens have the following attributes: the ability to communicate, organize, recognize, create things and always look for solutions (or otherwise) to life’s challenges around them.

The Bible says in Genesis 1:26 – 27 that God created man in His image and likeness and placed him in charge of the Garden to tender, till the soil, and have dominion over all creatures on the land, sea, birds of the air and others. Man, therefore, is placed in a state of perpetual motion. ‘Ndigbo’ are estimated not differently in this connection. In fact, some say they are nomadic and others attribute a pastoral nature to them.

They could indeed be described as a mobile race just like the Scandinavian nation. Suffice it to note that in all these characterizations, Ndigbo is guided by the philosophy of egalitarianism.

The word ‘egalitarianism’ is derived from the French word, ‘Ega,’ which means ‘Equal’ and built into the concept of social equality. The egalitarian doctrine consists generally in the view that all human beings are equal fundamentally or in the moral sense.

In other words, Ndigbo believes in the equality of human beings and strive to be recognized and accorded equality of status with other people or races.

There’s no gainsaying that the itinerant tendency of Ndigbo makes them travel outside their home nation in search of greener pastures. Indeed this itinerant inclination of Ndigbo is historical and said to be traceable to the Tribe of Dan, of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. According to legend, the tribe of Dan constitutes the cradle of Ndigbo who ultimately settled in ‘Nri’ in present-day Anambra State. This explains, the endemic diasporic tendency of Ndigbo.

The word, ‘Diaspora’ derives from Greek, and means to ‘scatter about.’ That is, Ndigbo is scattered from their homeland to other places across the globe, spreading their culture as they go. Diaspora, in other words, means exodus, departure, dispersal, emigration and settlement other than in the homeland.

Some notable Diaspora groups include people of African descent who were transported to the Americas during the Transatlantic slave trade; the Assyrian Diaspora which came to be during and after the Arabian conquest of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran; and continued in the aftermath of the Assyrian genocide; the southern Chinese and Indian Diaspora who left their homelands during the 19th and 20th centuries.

It also includes the Irish who left Ireland during and after the Great Famine; the Scottish who emigrated on a large scale after the Highland clearance; the Romani from India; the Italian Diaspora and the Mexican Diaspora; the exile and deportation of Circassians; the Palestinian Diaspora following the flight or expulsion of Arabs from Palestine; the Armenian Diaspora following the Armenian Genocide.

Others are the Lebanese Diaspora due to the Lebanese Civil War; the fleeing of the Greeks from Turkey after the fall of Constantinople; the later Greek Genocide, and the Istanbul pogroms; and the emigration of Anglo-Saxon warriors and their families after the Norman Conquest, primarily to the Byzantine Empire.

Recently, scholars have distinguished between different kinds of diaspora, based on their causes such as colonialism, trade or labor migrations, or indeed based on the kind of social coherence within the Diaspora community and its ties to the ancestral lands.

Some Diaspora communities maintain strong political ties with their homeland. Other qualities that may be typical of the Diasporas are thoughts of return, keeping ties back home (country of origin); relationships with other communities in the Diaspora, and lack of full integration into the host countries. Diasporas often maintain ties to the country of their historical affiliation and tend to influence the policies of the country where they are located.

In 2019, according to the United Nations, the 17.5 million Indian Diaspora is the world’s largest Diaspora, followed by the 11.8 million Mexican Diaspora and 10.7 million Chinese Diaspora and African Diaspora.

This now brings us to the question: what are the causes of the Diaspora movement in Nigeria? The answer is simple: Lack of employment, lack of educational opportunities, lack of social safety net, poor governance, corruption of government officials, lack of social justice, equity and fair play.

Youth unemployment in Nigeria is 52.7% which is one of the highest in the world and a leading factor for illegal migration amongst this vulnerable group. The government has been paying lips service to good governance, thereby pushing the youths into engaging in dangerous migration patterns, from which Ndigbo are not exempted.

How Ndigbo diaspora communities can impact development in the motherland? 

Ndigbo in the Diaspora can play an important role in the economic development of Alaigbo, beyond their well-known role as senders of Dollars, Pounds, Euro, Swiss Franc and other foreign currencies to relatives in Alaigbo.

Diaspora Ndigbo can promote trade and foreign direct investment. They can create businesses and spur entrepreneurship. They can also transfer skills and new knowledge. 

Role of government in predominantly Igbo states
The impact of Diaspora involvement is difficult to assess because of policy summersault, disturbing accusations and counter-accusations especially in Nigeria where tribalism and nepotism occupy a major place in people’s psyche.

It, therefore, becomes imperative for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in collaborations with the governors of the south-east States, to rise to the occasion and set up a Ndigbo Diaspora Commission whose primary objective should include the following: Remove or disentangle the counterproductive policies hindering the return of Ndigbo Diaspora investment flow to Alaigbo.

Play a dual role that facilitates diaspora contributions to the homeland and serves the Diaspora as suggested by Hon. Abike Debiri Erewa’s Diaspora Commission.

To coordinate the development, implementation and review of diaspora-focused policies in Alaigbo.

Ensure that there are legislations in the southeast states meant to protect the interest of Ndigbo Diaspora investment in Alaigbo. 

Maintain a database for the Ndigbo in the Diaspora.

To provide technical advice to Ndigbo as regards participating in the relevant economic sectors.

To facilitate and advise Ndigbo in the Diaspora on access to investment opportunities in Alaigbo.

To coordinate and create synergistic business relationships between resident indigenous Ndigbo business entrepreneurs with their counterparts in the Diaspora for investment purposes in Alaigbo.

To establish Diaspora Investment Bond and bank in Alaigbo to the tune of $10billion.

To open joint venture investments in Alaigbo.

Prince Onuakalusi is a Lagos-based legal practitioner, and President, millennium centre for training leadership Lagos.