The Igbos are the wandering Jews of West Africa… gifted, aggressive, Westernised; at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by the mass of their neighbours in the federation – Henry Kessinger (famous American diplomat)
Back in the days, men made fortune out of war, war was business. But today, the Igbos are making fortune out of business, because business is the new war.
Before we talk about the plight of the Igbos in Nigeria, let us start by defining a word that has been frequently used by the Igbos to define their situation in the country, marginalisation! According to a good number of dictionaries, to “marginalise” means “to treat someone or something as if they are unimportant.” It also means “to take or keep somebody away from the centre of action.” Another dictionary defined it as “relegating someone or a group of people to a lower or outer edge of a community or society.” For so long, the Igbos have bitterly cried out against apparent marginalisation by the Federal Goverment of Nigeria. There is almost a zero federal presence in the east, despite the fact that the eastern region is the most technologically advanced of all the regions. This suggests unequivocally that the Igbo-speaking Nigerians have been unjustly treated. There is a well calculated ploy by the powers that be from other ethnic nationalities to ensure that the Igbo region stays perennially underdeveloped.
What the Igbos are going through can be traced to none other than Yakubu Gowon. Gowon should explain why a people who were by far the dominant majority ethnic group were suddenly relegated to only one out of the three states created by him in the old Eastern region. Why alter demography just to make the Igbos a minority in a region where they were the majority? Since then, the Igbos haven’t been able to get this injustice reversed and till date, they have seen more states and local governments created in other regions across the country. Nigerian historians are unanimous that the 1963 census remains the most transparent in the country till date. The 1963 census stated that one out of every four Nigerians was an Igbo, which means that if things were done equitably in this country, the Igbos should have a 25 per cent representation in all federal institutions as well as a 25 per cent share of all states and local governments created since independence.
We must tell ourselves the truth and stop living in denial. Nigeria as it stands today is sitting on a keg of gun powder and if we must stay together as a country, we have to sit down and discuss the terms and conditions of our coexistence. No section of the country should be treated better than others. I have heard some northerners mutter several times that power belongs to them. “Born to rule,” the old Sokoto State slogan is a clear confirmation of what has been psyched into the system of every northerner. And they keep saying “One Nigeria?” Isn’t it obvious that the northerners are more Nigerians than other Nigerians? That’s why they could openly threaten the nation with violence like they did in the just concluded presidential election. It was peddled about that if Buhari had lost the election, there would have been trouble in the country and as a result, a lot of people voted against their wishes especially in the north. So many issues need to be addressed in this country. For example, how do you explain why Arabic is on the naira when the official language of the country is English? How do you explain why an Hausa man is allowed to carry daggers freely when others get arrested for carrying a razor blade?
Please, can someone explain to me who the real Hausas are? I have travelled to virtually all the northern states and in most of the states, the people I met claimed not to be Hausas but from other tribes. According to them, that they spoke fluent Hausa doesn’t mean they are Hausas. Nancy who’s from Kaduna always makes it known to whoever cares to listen that she’s not Hausa but Zango Kataf. My guitarist who’s from Nasarawa State grumbles whenever I call him an Hausa man. Amina, my Fulani neighbour screams and curses whenever I call her an Hausa lady. So who then are the real Hausas? What states are they occupying? Stop using politics to bamboozle me that Hausa is a majority. Stop using politics to lump Hausa and Fulani together because you want me to think you are highly populated. In the just concluded presidential election, Katsina State had over two million eligible voters, I have been to Katsina several times and I can’t remember ever seeing so many people there. How did they come about the figures in the presidential election? May God save this country from desperate politicians because it doesn’t make any sense politicising the population of the North when we see otherwise each time we travel there. It is in the same light they claimed Kano was more populated than Lagos in the census conducted during Obasanjo’s regime. We are tired of these lies. If we must remain an indivisible country, the true population of the Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas and every other ethnic group in this country must be made public as well as the number of Christians and Muslims. Enough of the Hausa-Fulani scam or the Zango Kataf man being counted as Hausa.
Finally, the fact that other ethnic groups see the marginalisation of the Igbos as relative or just a perception and not based on the objective realities on ground is a shame. The Nigerian army today cannot produce a bullet but the boys in Awka are producing not only bullets but guns. An unbiased Federal Government would have taken advantage of that and create employment as well as exporting to generate money for the country. With a little government encouragement, Aba can easily rival the industralised nations of the world in production. If Ndigbo won’t be allowed to enjoy the freedom, to develop and maximise their collective and individual potential through unfettered access, use and exploitation of God-given resources – human and material, the country might soon be plunged into another years of Biafra vs Nigeria and this time around, there will be a victor and a vanquished.