By Ike A.Offor, Editor
It is indeed pathetic to hear from the mouths of many Nigerians about their ownership of lands and cities irrespective of the fact that we sometimes claim that this country is one and for all. They do this at their own convenience and whenever they wish to. The convenience though based on tribal sentiments is very interesting and very nauseating, to say the least. The Yorubas always remind other citizens of their ownership to Lagos and the Hausas and Fulanis on Kano, but oil from Niger-Delta or region of old kingdom of Biafra is for all Nigerians. Those from that region have no right to it but it belongs to all Nigerians. Almost all the oil blocks belong to mostly Hausas and Fulanis from the North and to the Yorubas from South West. The people of Biafra can not lay claim to either Lagos or Kano. They are indeed strangers in those states, though the resources from their neglected region are immensely exploited to develop those two big states including Abuja and many others.
The resources from oil from the Biafran region, pays the salaries of all workers in Nigeria since 96 % of the federal government income comes from the oil. This statistically means that salaries of workers starting from local governments to state governors and the federal ministries, including the president, come from oil from the Biafran region. If they dare to lay claim to the oil then, they must be annihilated. The oil is for all and not for the Biafrans alone. Every propaganda possible have been used to keep them divided to deter them from laying complete claim to the oil in their region. I have even heard some deluded Northern politicians speak how the oil in the Biafran region belongs to them. A claim that was indeed preposterous but applauded by those from the north who were in the conference room where he made such speech.
Civil war propaganda and the hangover effects
Politically, the Igbo people, who are the majority from that region must be ostracized in order to weaken their position. Their kith and kin have been told via the vicious propaganda during the civil war that they are not Igbo, though they have Igbo names and speak it though with dialects, just like every other Igbo in the entire Igboland. They were also killed as much as other Igbo e.g Asaba massacre and others in Ika areas. They also have strong and proven historical connections to their Igbo ancestry. So, many Igbo names of places in those parts are modified after the civil war to deter them from appearing Igbo in writings and in their pronunciations. Perhaps this was one of the reasons the military government stopped teaching of history nationwide in our schools. The plan was perhaps to annihilate the sense of history, thereby making it hard for newer generation to know their history or ancestral background.
The propaganda worked then and it still has its after effect till this date. When you listen to some of the arguments from some folks from the North or South West, who try so hard to realign the landscape and history of Igboland. They tend to know more the history of the Igbo people or the entire Biafra land more than the Igbo or Biafrans themselves. Those are the hangover from the civil war propaganda, simply employed to dissuade other Igbo, who have more oil in their lands to refuse their Igbo ancestry. Even Ibo was created to make it look different from the correct spelling of Igbo. Some have argued that they are Ibo and not Igbo. As preposterous as it may look and sound, some thrust that up during arguments against their Igbo ancestry. Some attached the name of the part of Igboland where they live to the Igbo, e.g Ika-Ibo. This almost make it look like Ika is an ethnic group of her own. I recently heard a guy, whose best part have been taken by the wartime propaganda say that he doesn’t speak Igbo but Agbor and his mother speaks Umunede. Funny, what can I say. Dialects spoken in some of these towns are now made ethnic language of their own. Though you may look at these arguments as funny and baseless, you must not ignore the tool employed to create these confusion.
The more they use this to dissuade these Igbo people from recognizing their Igbo-ness the better for their access to their oil. Another tool employed to make Igbo people appear small or as minority was caving out several chunks of their kith and kin into other states regarded as non-Igbo. Through this means the oil in the region of the Igboland are carved into other non-Igbo states. This also makes it possible for these people to forget their Igbo ancestry with time. For example, there are over a million Igbo people or citizens carved into Benue state. Oil wells from those states seen as Igboland, are carved out and put into other states regarded as non-Igbo states. A good example of this is the carving of Izombe, a major oil producing town of the old Imo state, into Rivers state. There are numerous other major examples to this. But when it comes to siting federal government projects, these same states taken as non-Igbo states are then exempted and reversely taken as Igbo land.
Recently, an excerpt of a telephone conversation between one Kunle, and one Alhaji went viral on social media. It was a very interesting piece of telephone conversation to listen to. There, in the telephone conversation, the Alhaji was fillled with much vile enough to wipe a generation. He talked as if they’ve enough plan already to wipe out the entire South East and South South. Though he may have some justified reasons judging from the steps taken so far by the present federal government administration towards businesses owned by Igbos. Though, that piece of conversation could be neglected, but it showcases the sort of vitriol that is embedded in some folks towards that very region, Biafra.
In the telephone conversation, the Alhaji laid out their plans to stop Igbo people’s business domination, as if Igbos at some point in history had some sort of advantage and used it to establish themselves in businesses. Now, that advantage must be destroyed and their domination of businesses must be vehemently trashed. This is the same people who have never enjoyed presidency of this country or held strong positions in government until the recent previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan. Though it was funny to hear the Alhaji speak about South East and South South as one entity and referred to Goodluck Jonathan as Igbo people’s government. But the same when argument about oil or Biafra arises, will do everything to separate the Igbo from the rest in the larger Igbo land and the entire Biafra. This is why I call their stand argument of convenience.
Igbos and the national economy
Looking at national statistics, it is very clear that the Igbo citizens control a sizeable chunk of the national economy and contribute immensely to the national gross domestic product (GDP). That is almost agreed by all within the shores of Nigeria. Though some few, who harbour tribal sentiments would wave it off as nonsense. They have not historically played much role in successive governments, for strong reasons I will not try to detail here. They do not owe oil blocks or wells but have struggled on their various capacity to grow from nothing after the civil war that utterly destroyed their region. So, where does the fear of Igbo people and oil come from, since they have succeeded economically without recourse to oil? Though, it may be argued that since they come from the oil producing region, they should control or dominate the oil business. But that is not the case. It is perhaps the internal arm twisting tactics of the successive governments to debar them from owing oil blocks. Every thing was thrown at them and even laws were made under the leadership of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, after the war to stop them from gaining positions in federal ministerial jobs.
This created the culture of Igbos not being conspicuous in federal ministries across the country for decades after the war ended. This also was perhaps why there is no federal government secretariat in the entire South East. Anyway, the Igbo people judging from their historical nature, love education and trade or business and industry. They love being independent and growing their own financial status even from the scratch to the level their ability and sheer hard work could elevate them to. Their penchant towards business and industry is well documented throughout their history. So, why is the federal government so hard bent on the campaign against the Igbo people because of oil in their region? So, it is rational to say that any attempt to destroy the economic status of the large Igbo population, would amount to the destruction of the entire national economy itself. It may sound odd but from statistical perceptive, it is simply correct.
(Ike A. Offor (IkeA.Offor@yahoo.com) (www.twitter.com/@OfforIke)
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