After prominent Igbo philanthropist, politician and the CEO of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, made the public statement “Igbos are not united and only God can make an Igbo man President” last week.
Igbo’s around the country and the world in general have taken to both social media and news outlets to weigh in on his words.
While there are few who agree with him, the poll tips in the other direction with many saying that his comment has a detrimental effect on the relationship among Ndigbo during this sensitive times in the country.
“Igbo are enemies of themselves, not the north or any other people. When I was making effort for the actualisation of the Zone 13 headquarters in Anambra, I did not get the needed cooperation from Igbo stakeholders. Many thought I was doing it for selfish interest. What do I need it for, if not for collective interest? The same thing is applicable to Igbo quest for presidency. Some people are agitating for 2023 presidency, but when the time comes, some stakeholders will sing discordant tunes. Some of us will be begging for vice presidential slots. We must be united as Igbo people, if we are to take our pride of place in this bigger entity called Nigeria,” he said.
He also insinuated that “Igbos are happy with President Buhari” when he said;
“He is currently rehabilitating the Enugu-Onitsha highway, constructing the 2nd Niger Bridge and has approved this new police zone 13 for our people,” said Mr Eze, an indigene of Ukpo.
“We cannot thank him enough, and as a leader from the zone, I must say that we the Igbo people are happy with President Buhari and will continue to support his people-oriented programmes.’’
Arthur Eze has faced several backlash for his above statement. One of the prominent Igbo people who spoke to condemn the statement of Arthur Eze was the leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, when he said;
“We need to clarify that Ndigbo are more and aggressively united in pursuing their common interest in every affairs of our lives.
“We have proved to them severally about our onerous unity in Nigeria during the sit at home exercises and massive demonstrations that shoke the foundation of Nigeria.
“Our unity and coordination are being tested on our daily interactions with fellow Igbos in our respective town union affairs. Our political unity was shown to Peter Obi during the last presidential election.”
Several Igbo Nigerians have taken to both twitter and Facebook to voice their discontent for Arthurs speech. Some people have called him a sellout to the north, others say his statement was a bid to get political appointments.
Are Igbo people truly divided?
To answer the above question, lets compare the arts of love among Igbos and versus the hateful ones and weigh them out.
- During the civil war : The civil war was a most trying time for Igbos in Nigeria, a time many believed will spell an end to the Igbos, judging by the amount of devastations they faced at the hands of the Nigerian army. History showed how Igbos pulled together to support each other and fought valiantly despite their defeat.
- The Igbo apprenticeship : There is a popular saying that ” The Igbo apprenticeship system has produced more millionaires in Nigeria than the education system”. The above statement was made by social media user Abayomi Opefiyijimi , and had since had everyone nodding along. But knowing how this system will most likely make an apprentice a fellow millionaire, most Igbo business men will shy away from it if they hated each other.
- The fight for emancipation : Perhaps due to the memory of the civil war, or simply the need to become a sovereign nation, but Igbos who agree to the idea of creating Biafra outweigh those who don’t, on both ends of the socio-economic spectrum, “the rich and the poor”. Several groups have risen over the years for the cause, and have all equally amassed willing members.
- Igbos always tend to aggregate: If you live in Lagos or any other state in the country that isn’t and eastern state, then you might have noticed that Igbo people are usually clustered in particular cities or housing areas. Alaba, Yaba and Ladipo markets in Lagos are famously dominated by Igbo business men. Although not like the Hausas are known to cluster around each other in sometimes simple housing area, Igbos do similarly in their own right. In many cases, entire neighborhoods are occupied by Igbos.
- Igbo People Village meetings : Igbo people are one of the few tribes who stay in touch with each other when they live for the big cities. A few other tribes in Nigeria also have this practice, the Udomas for instance. However, Igbos are known to congregate outside their own towns and even country. Igbos abroad still have their meetings where they discuss matters that affect everyone, pass sensitive information around and also make plans.
- During disasters : Igbos have consistently rallied around each other during disasters such as the Burning down of Balogun market which burnt down goods worth millions and left several people devastated. Following this incident, many Igbo people rallied round to donate money in attempt to help these business men get back on their feet. The same spirit was displayed among Igbos when several rich Igbo men went around distributing food items to the needy amongst them.
- Land grabbing: Popularized by Nollywood, land grabbing has become an anthem sung in Nigerian movies. These movies usually depict a wicked elderly Igbo man who aims to steal and or kill the owners of a particular piece of land in order to possess it for himself. Several popular movies have been made out of this concept and it has brought several Nollywood actors to limelight and fortune.
But how much of it is true? Land grabbing alongside ritual killing is a sad reality among Igbos, being the competitive people they are, however these cases are completely unheard off among many of the Igbo tribes.
Growing up in Lagos and believing these movies had me shocked when in 2004 an elder member of my home town called the attention of my father and his brothers to a piece of land he had noticed we didn’t occupy.
He called to let us know we owned it, My father and his brother previously had no idea, this incident completely shattered the whole land grabbing concept before my eyes, but the same cannot be said for a few Igbo communities. However, this isn’t peculiar to Igbos alone.
2. Political Scuffle : When it comes to politics, it’ll be right to say that loving Igbo spirit is missing. Igbo people are fiercely competitive, and as such Igbo politicians have made this an individual struggle.
The struggle to both amass wealth and occupy positions of power as seen a great division among the Igbo people in politics, and as the wise saying goes, “Power corrupts”. Politics is a dirty game, and players play dirty, but we can count this down against Igbos.
Obviously there are bound to be more than just two negative things that show disunity or lack of love amongst them, but as I write this article, I have come up empty and thus need to put down the pen.
Please leave a comment below to either agree or disagree with me. Also I stand corrected on these talking points since I am no academic expert in the field, so kindly point of any errors that might have been stated in this article.
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