Passing through Onitsha, a mega town in Igbo land, you will be tempted to ask if the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to build high rise buildings for all the people in the place. You will wonder if the mega industrial hubs are efforts of government to help the people. You will wonder why business activities are blossoming in such high degree in the place. Onitsha alone boasts of an international market, where some people describe that you can get almost ‘anything you want’ in it. It is not farfetched, Nnewi is home to an automobile producing, I beg your pardon assembling plant. This is owned by an individual. I do not think the Nigerian government can keep such an establishment running, without issues that will finally lead to failure. Visitors to Nnewi, Onitsha and very many areas of Anambra state can attest to developmental structures (at least befitting a third world country). Nnewi as a town is home to more billionaires through hardwork than a combination of some states in Nigeria. Individuals go as far as building roads in Anambra, so that posterity will not forget them. In fact, it is in some towns, an appraisal of how much you have achieved when putting up befitting structures.
Let me leave Anambra, and go to Aba. Just en route Aba from Port-Harcourt Aba road, you will see where the body of such huge road monsters as the one that carries petrol around in the nation are constructed. Then, you would mention the Ariaria International Market. You can get almost everything you can imagine in that market. Go to Aba and bespoke a suit, a shirt, a trouser, a blazer, any wear of your choice. You can really compare the finishing with those shipped in from fashion cities like Paris, Milan or London. These things were not funded by the government, the people did it themselves.
Go to Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, visit most towns and villages, you will notice the Igbo man is working. Throughout my service year, I made a discovery that baffled me: the Igbo man loves to be independent (and most times, people do not understand), other people do not. This is a pleasing realization for no town in Igbo land would say there is no man who can stand. I would not mention the place I served in particular, but no village in Igbo land would be in the mess almost all villages I passed through in the cause of the year are in. Ask them, the will say government did this or that; ask the Igbo man, he will say I did it. That is self-realization.
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo played an ‘unnecessary evil’ role just after the Civil war to which most people who are aware still wonder why today. The interesting part is, the people who I have been talking about in Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra were given 20 pounds each after the civil war irrespective of how much each had gathered before that horrible event. With 20 pounds each in 1970, the Igbo man have transformed wherever he has gone to. Mention mega cities in Nigeria, the Igbo man cannot be detached from its development. Mention other not so popular area, the Igbo man is there influencing the livelihood of people. I served as a corps member close to Ilorin, that town is not so popular in the Nigeria ‘towns’ idea, but, the major shops dealing on goods and services in that town have at least the signature of an Igbo man. It is beyond Nigeria, in fact, a popular saying is: if you go to any place in the world and find no Igbo man doing business there, you do not need to dwell there. That place must be fantasy. So is the strength of the Igbo man, so is his productivity and ingenuity, and so is his blessedness with skills of building successful businesses. Not one, but very many without the aid of government.
I know you deserve to be angry. You have the best brains to govern Nigeria. Dr. Obi governed Anambra state and left N73bn in its coffers. That is unheard of in this part of the world. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala left office with national GDP grown to 5%; even though opposition will say it is false. Prof. Chukwuma Soludo brought up the bank consolidation policy in 2005, Nigerian banks are stable today. Even countries like Brazil models that today. Prof Dora Akinyuli dealt a blow to contaminated, poor quality importation and distribution of foods and drugs in the country. All these happened in the new republic, past glories are uncountable, yet you have not been given an opportunity to lead Nigeria out of the mess it is. There has been no downtrend in economy and otherwise anytime an Igbo man headed the economic think-thank, imagine what would happen if he was President.
The heart of the Igbo man is so broad and accommodating, we have helped our brothers establish in their various adventures for livelihood.
The die is now cast on the issue of what you want at the moment, we once clamoured for a new nation out of the existing one to no avail. That struggle took the lives of 3 million Igbos and rendered some others homeless and sick. All of a sudden, that fight is back again, this time not on the battle field yet, but on the minds and souls of vibrant youths seeking to go for it. I sense danger; the nation have helped this cause to be elaborated. I sense an uproar; many may rest in pieces for this. I sense war; the Igbo man is too determined to give up on a cause.
I used my first three paragraphs to talk so much on the strength of the Igbo man, now I am going back to my aim for this discussion: why do we really need this fight? The government have not helped our cause, yes! We have been marginalized, yes! We have the right to self-determination, yes! Has all the government done derailed the progress of the Igbo nation? No! Brothers, we don’t need the government, we determine what happens to the economy of this nation. I would love the Igbo man to understand this. Yes, it is true that someone will say that government policies will not favour us, but damn the policies! With 20 pounds in 1970, if the Igbo man packs up from Lagos today, the city folds. If the Igbo man leaves Port-Harcourt today, the city dries up. Any city in Nigeria that the Igbo man leaves, that city is dead economically (Igbo men are still trading in Maiduguri not minding the defeated but active Boko Haram).
I make a solemn call to all true blooded Igbo men to come together so that we can knit our minds, so that we can make ourselves so big that we will be the continuous subject of instance to other Nigerians. How can we do this? Let us connect our states economically. Let us build bridges for our brothers. Leave the Federal government and work with our five state governments. Let us accept that we are too special to be manipulated by the government. I bet you, if we do all that would be written in the next part of this issue, Nigeria government will be begging Igbos for life. (TO BE CONTINUED)
Chinemeze Joshua Iwuoha