Africa

Finding Solutions to the Many Ndi-igbo Problems in Nigeria

I have written series of articles centered on the Igbo nation in the geo-political entity called Nigeria some of which have been “The Igbo in the present state of Nigeria”,

“Anioma is my ethnic-nationality not Igbo”, “How the Igbo nation and communities are marginalized”, “Creation of Anioma state is the solution”, “Anioma people, towns and communities”, “Ibusa (Igbuzo) people”, “Ibusa town: a call for the social development of the town”, Eastern Ibo and Delta Ibo of Nigeria” and have received several different comments many of which have been quite outstanding.

All of these comments are no doubt totally in agreement with the fact that the Igbo whether in Rivers or Delta states are facing marginalization politically, economically and socially. Much of these have been elaborately and previously discussed in my articles. Having collectively agreed that there is something wrong with the Igbo race even beyond the much talked about marginalization, what needs to done here is the way forward for the Igbo nation and in trying to proffer possible solutions we need to ask ourselves one vital question. Why do Igbo groups from outside the southeast keep opting out of the Igbo race?

In answering this question, I need to appeal for patience because as some of the contributors to my work put it the average Igbo man is often too enraged to listen whenever any critical comments are passed concerning the situation of the region. I advise that this must not be so as something vital can be picked from every contribution and used for transformation through series of researches. Necessity they say is the mother of invention. We actually require patience, listening ears and receptive attitude to tackle problem of this magnitutide and every one of us has a role to play.

PROBLEMS OF IGBO

Of all the comments I have received so far on all my articles regarding the Igbo, this very one being a contribution to the article “Eastern Ibo and Delta Ibo of Nigeria” from a certain ‘Scott Iwuji from USA via Owerri’ (posted 20:09 hrs 10.07.2008) remains the actual one which provoked my thought and consequently responsible for proffering solutions to the Igbo cause.

Iwuji wrote thus:

“You know as of recently i have been looking very hard about what it means to be Igbo. Who are the Igbos? And why do groups keep dropping out of the bigger confederacy and I have come to the understanding this. Alot of our leaders don’t understand the concept of creating general welfare for the Igbo nation. This means wheather (sic) you are from Enugu, as a politician and a rep of the greater group, you have not only the obligation to create welfare for your immediate people but to also go a step further to make sure this good deed reaches across to the your other Igbo brothers across the states. Most of the eastern Igbo politicians seem to be so crooked, short sighted and stupid that they don’t see this essential piece of the puzzle. Yes I agree, a lot of our guys are crooks, but for them not to see the above as their tribal responsibility means we need to do away with them and start again properly. By that in case I am not clear, I am saying we need a cleansing of the Igbo leadership and reinstall leaders who understand the big picture for the Igbos is ONE VOICE. Just like the Yorubas do they come out with one strong voice and they look after their own. Revolution starts from within, lets not blame Nigeria for what we cannot do ourselves. Before we fight for our rights outside, let us fight for order within. IGBO KWE NU”.

Iwuji is obviously puzzled on why groups keeps abandoning or rather disowning the Igbo ethnic-group as theirs and honestly seeks to know the reason behind this. Though it would appear that the reason behind this is well within his knowledge or understanding because he would quickly reveal the reason behind as inability of the Igbo leaders (politicians) to look beyond the South-Eastern en and realize that other Igbo ethnic-groups exist somewhere in states other than Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Abia states who are of their own and must be carried along in the political, economic and social development of the ethnic-group even more radically beyond the South-East geo-political zone.

When the word “Yoruba” is mentioned Yoruba in southwestern part of the country as far Republic De Benin and maybe Peru, Brazil, Cuba readily and immediately strikes one without a mention of further words. The Hausa man in Nigeria would also readily give you the understanding even in practice that Hausa as an ethnic-group exist in every part of the African continent and as far as Asia if need be. Every of these ethnic-groups outside Nigeria will readily accept to members but the vital question that confronts the mind is why some Igbo in Nigeria particularly outside the South-East will keep disowning the ethnic-group as theirs. In other word, anti Igbo sentiments still exist among the Igbo themselves.

This article will seek to supply a possible answers to this question and also proffer solutions to the plights currently befalling the race.

The major problem of the Igbo race as presently constituted in Nigeria is marginalization by the federal authority but it goes beyond this as the Igbo on our own have also whether knowingly or unknowingly put together certain utilities and manufactured some of the problems now fighting against out development and denying us of our rightful place in the Nigerian political entity most of these will also be discussed but as noted earlier this article is more concerned with finding the way forward so that other students of History and researchers can further their researches for if this is encouraged we shall find a way out of the various problems confronting the ethnic-group.

To help us understand the problems of the Igbo which I have identified majorly as Marginalization by the Federal might of Nigeria we need to look at the definition of the word “marginalization” as given by Ohaneze Ndiigbo at the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Panel articulated by the Former Federal Minister of Information, Uche Chukwumerije.

He defined Marginalization as “purposeful denial of rights of some members of a given unit by some other members of the group who control the power of allocation of resources”

He went on to state that the Federal Authority has consistently denied the Igbo the rights to fair share of natural resources. For Ohaneze Ndiigbo therefore the state of the Igbo in the present Nigeria in commanding the heights of polity obviously means denial of right to life, right to freedom from discrimination, right to acquire property anywhere in Nigeria and other rights enshrined in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (The Guardian, 26 July 2001)

The problems of the Igbo in Nigeria go beyond this. In his speech entitled “Ideological Igbo Agenda: Reconstructing Igbo Political Capacity in the Nigerian Body Polity,” delivered at the All-Igbo Political Summit organized by PNF USA on July 12, 2003 by Acho Orabuchi the following problems were listed as confronting the existence of the Igbo in Nigeria:

(i)              Abandon property

(ii)             The percentage of federal projects in Igbo States

(iii)            Lack of functional airport, especially an international airport in ala Igbo.

(iv)           Lack of a Uniform Standard JAMB Scores for entrance into Nigerian Universities. Ndi Igbo must score higher than their counterpart to be admitted into the university.

(v)            Lack of a Uniform Standard Entrance Examination Scores for the entrance into Federal Government Schools. Ndi Igbo, especially Imo State indigenes have a higher score threshold.

(vi)            Resource Control

(vii)          Lack of well-maintained federal roads in our zone

(viii)        Lack of Equity in Federal Appointments

Professor Omo Omoruyi, a Bini man once described the leadership of Igbo after the civil war as that lacking in vision thus enraging the Igbo. This comment should not be totally discarded and completely assumed to be that lacking in substance and should also not be thrown into oblivion because clear-cut leadership will also be of use in repositioning the Igbo in the main stream of the nation’s politics and even off-set the balance of other ethnic-groups in the country. There in identifying the various problems of the Igbo lack of leadership vision counts.

For Ubanese Nwanganga, the Igbo have largely contributed to its own problems. The problems are listed as follows:

(i)                 Asika Ukpabi an administrator of the former East-Central region who saw himself as an appointee of the Federal government and as a result of this owed the Igbo nation nothing even though he gained the position riding on the back of the Igbo influence and backing.

(ii)               On indigenization programme, no leadership of Igbo has ever bothered to venture into this sort of programme, which to every extent will have united all the various units of Igbo as far as other states where Ndiigbo exist. Awolowo did this for the Yoruba, and Gowon for his people. This may have angered Prof. Omo Omoruyi and necessitated his sarcastic comments.

(iii)             The 19975 creation of states policy of Murtala also was not favourable to the Igbo nation having gotten only two states being Imo and Anambra states yet the Igbo were complacent but a clear leadership vision would have gained the creation of Anioma state for the Igbo which the Igbo once again lost to Babangida still complacent that Asaba, the capital of Delta state was still their own. The Igbo nation would again lose in the creation of state policy of the Federal Power several years after in 1975, 1991 and 1996 (eleven years after) an indication that the leadership of Igbo had not yet woken from slumber. Stressing further, Nwanganga notes that it stands now the north and Yoruba land will not readily allow for the creation of Anioma without corresponding states for them.

(iv)              The soar relationship between the Igbo and their Eastern minorities according to him reached its climax when Biafran troops in the minorities homeland left much to desired during the war and no Igbo leadership has tendered apology to them decades after. He would buttress this argument with the results of the 1979, 1983 national elections. Still the 1999 and 2003 in my own opinion also clearly shows this. So Nwanganga would readily agree with any Igbo leader who holds the view that bitterness against the Igbo by the Eastern minorities is a phobia. Tiv, Igala, Angas, Idoma, Jukun, Bachama, Mumuye would all prefer to join hands with our neighbours against us. Why?

(v)                Igbo are very much obsessed with Lagos as noted here. And as the second largest ethnic-group in the state have so largely invested in Lagos that this ethnic-group believes that someday an Igbo man would rise to become the governor of Lagos state. This is another self-made problem. The Yoruba cannot share the state with any other ethnic-group much less Igbo.

(vi)              Also of note is the second fiddle the Igbo appear contented to play in the Nigerian politics. In the years of Tafawa Balewa was the prime minister while Azikiwe was a ceremonial president, Shagari as the president of Nigeria, while Ekwueme was the vice-president, Babangida was the military president while Ukiwe his second in command was not entitled to the use of vice-president. Chukwumerije, Nzeribe and Ofonagoro in small ways helped to frustrate the ambitions of Abiola rather than pursue a personal ambition or even help to reposition the Igbo in the theatre of Nigerian politics. How would the Hausa-Fulani have rewarded the Chukwumerije, Ofonagoro and Nzeribe? I am still not cleared on this.

 

We shall now turn to the argument of Ohaneze Ndiigbo on what the problems of Ndiigbo are and subsequently proffer solutions on the way forward, which if strictly adhered to would in no small way reposition the Igbo.

 

The apex group states the Igbo problems as thus:

(i)                 Nigeria’s proclamation of a peace formula of three Rs (Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction) which turned out in practice to be a smokescreen behind which she continued the war against the Ndiigbo

(ii)               Federal government vindictive enactment of abandoned property law

(iii)             The impoverishment of all Ndiigbo through payment of a flat meager fee

(iv)              The intentional timing of the enactment of the indigenisation decree at the height of total destruction of the purchasing power of Ndiigbo

(v)                Exclusion of oil and other mineral deposits discovered in Igbo land

(vi)              Manipulating of census figures to deliberately reduce the figure of the Igbo ethnic group

(vii)            Discrimination in federal sensitive appointments

(viii)          In the creation of states the Igbo have been deliberately caged so as to contain the financial and demographic expansion of the Igbo. Lack of the creation of Anioma state is an example. This is referred to as “Igbophobia”

(ix)              Socially the Igbo are still haunted

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

A lot have been said on the problems of the Igbo which almost everyone in the street of Nigeria can testify to, as I noted noted earlier in this work what needs to done is to proffer solution on how we can bounce back.

(i)                 The return of the Igbo in Nigeria will best be accomplished if the ethnic-group democratically captures power at the at the center of Nigerian federation and how to achieve this will very much be dependent on how the people of Igbo have handled their immediate neighbours and beyond for it requires people of other ethnic groups to cast their votes in majority. And the Igbo should also have it at the back of their minds that any Igbo man is an Igbo man no matter what state of the federation he hails from because states are artificial creations used by the Hausa-fulani aided by the Yoruba to cause divide and rule policy among the Igbo

(ii)               The typical character of the Igbo man, which sees him readily racing in presidential contest against his fellow Igbo men, should be discouraged because this yields nothing but the division of votes casts by voters during elections. Only God can tell the number of Igbo men that contested during the 2003 presidential election in Nigeria. Jim Nwobodo and Arthur Nzeribe are best noted for this acts, yet the Igbo have not sat down to vilify them

(iii)             Ohaneze Ndiigbo itself is another problem of the Igbo because the umbrella organization lacks clear-cut agenda for the Igbo nation compared to their Arewa and Afenifere counterparts. Ohaneze must first come up with programmes which must identify and unite all Igbo speaking people whether from Delta or Rivers for this will give the Igbo more support and help to reduce hostility. With the way things stand at the moment, Ohaneze appears to have run out of ideas. The argument on the sixth state to be created for the Igbo community tells it all.

(iv)              A Yoruba is a Yoruba even if he is Republic De Benin, so also a Hausa. A Hausa man from Chad, Niger or even Mauritania can vote for a Hausa in a presidential election in Nigeria. The Igbo should carry along the Igbo from other parts of Nigeria who are feeling abandoned for support. When was the last time, any Igbo leader paid a courtesy visit to states outside the Southeast where Igbo are also concentrated and particularly visited the Igbo communities? Igbo leaders and indeed Ohaneze can extend their policies to these Igbo speaking communities in Delta and rivers states. This will give these people a semse of belonging and also gather support for Igbo with political aspirations.

(v)                Igbo should abandon the “Igbo enwe Eze” syndrome after all certain Igbo communities have monarchical structures from time immemorial and recognize that a pan or tribal leader is now necessary for the advancement of the cause of any ethnicity. The Yoruba once spoke through Awolowo, Adesanya and even now through almost all their monarchs. The Hausa-Fulani continues to speak through Arewa leaders and in military times spoke through the Sultan.

(vi)              Igbo traders should recognize that by investing largely in Lagos, they are helping to develop the state and under-developing the numerous communities of Igbo land in entirety. Lagos is not a home of the Igbo man therefore he must surely leave when the time comes.

(vii)            Surprisingly, a lot of governors have met following the proposed constitutional conference but the Igbo governors are yet to meet. This is discouraging indeed. A forum must be created for Igbo governors to meet and discuss matters concerning the region and the Igbo as a whole.

(viii)          The creation of Anioma state or any other Igbo state from River state is still necessary to extend the Igbo outside the containment and siege created by the Federal Authority which Ohaneze complained about at the Oputa Panel. Creation of a state outside the Southeast will indeed expand the finance and demography of the Igbo and the southeast. The Igbo should jettison the political jargon called “geo-political zone” put in place by Abacha to cage them (Igbo) For one, the history of policies in Nigeria shows that the idea may soon become a thing of the past. Moreso, if Igbo states are created out the present Igbo region the governors from these would-be created states will always join their fellow Igbo governors for meetings on matters of concern to the Igbo. This will also ideally win friends for the Igbo from the immediate neighbours of the would-states from Delta and rivers. Finally, this will help the Igbo to reclaim their lost oil communities deliberately shifted to Rivers and Delta states by the Federal authority.

(ix)              Better still, the Igbo should work and achieve the inclusion of all Igbo-speaking areas into the southeast geo-political zone.

(x)                Public Education institutes in the southeast appear to be the most expensive. Igbo leaders of thought should work towards this to ensure that Igbo get educated rather and be able to contest with their counterparts from the other parts of the country.

(xi)              Igbo should strive towards making the region an economic base and realize that a wide gap of difference exist between trading and business.

(xii)            The Igbo have the highest record of disunity in the country, which people spell out as a reason why an Igbo man has failed to rule this country. Consider the example an Igbo man, Chief Solomon Onyekwelu a former 2007 Presidential Candidate of AC and a former National Secretary of the party who stepped down for Alhaji Umaru Yar ‘Adua. The headline of that report was titled “Ndi-igbo Leadership has failed Presidential Candidate” (Daily Trust, 22/12/2007)

(xiii)          Socially the Igbo would need re-orientation particularly on issues concerning politics, 419, and other social matters. The federal authority failed to carry this immediately after the war, which was very necessary to psychologically put the people back on course. 

(xiv)          Finally the Igbo should find concerted efforts in pushing forward their demands to the federal government. This would have ideally heeded some of the much agitation for the construction of the second River Niger Bridge, and at least some seaports and an Airport in Igboland.

The claim of Ohaneze for reparation and possibly apology from the federal government may not be realized and even if realized such apology and finance will do the people no good instead reparation will further split the region on how it should be apportioned instead Ohaneze should take the bull by the horn and work towards the drastic revolution of the southeast and recover the lost glory of the region

 

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