By Victor Wilberforce
I coined the word Proselytized – Igbos. Many stopped being Igbo during the Civil war out of fear of genocide and are unable to resume their cultural identity again.
These groups are predominantly found in the South-South and are in each of the 6 SS states. They are usually oil-rich and prefer to be called ethnic nationalities which fits the British/ Federal Government propaganda that Igboland has no oil.
Their resolve to remain minorities despite their actual majority status is strengthened by the fact that they shiver to imagine their group in the deprivation of their brothers in the SE, who are marginalized and viciously maltreated in the scheme of things.
These groups get certain palliatives nay incentives for divorcing themselves from the major Igbo group.
However, like other oil producing ethnicities, their lands are despoiled by oil exploration activities, the people are bereft of tangible developmental indices. Their lands are overwhelmed with despoilation from pipeline bursts. Their major source of living being fishing and farming is disturbed, yet the people cannot complain.
They cannot complain because of the crumbs gave out to their elites. These vocal and selfish elites scramble for everything from their masters’ table so that their families can enjoy the soft life they are used to.
There is a 13% deprivation for these states, ‘magnanimously’ put in the Constitution by General Sani Abacha but this amount is viciously cornered by Nigeria elites in both the Federal and State governments. In the 1963 constitution, the derivation is 50%.
The Ministry of Niger Delta and the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC are other conduits used to defraud the peoples and governments of the region.
Why the people cannot come together and form a group like South-South Igbo Agitation Group or Agitation for Development of Igbo Oil Producing Areas in the South-South or Niger Delta Igbo Agitation for Development DIAD like the Ijaws have to MEND remains a shock – yet many of the freedom fighters for the upliftment of the Niger Delta are Igbo.
In truth, Igbo groups are the largest producers of oil in Nigeria but it is an anathema and even dangerous to voice this truth in Nigeria. Rivers state produces about 20% of the nation’s oil and over 70% are Igbo groups, Delta state produces 25% of the nations’ oil and about 40% are Igbo. This trend is replicated though in smaller percentages in all the states of the South-South.
Everybody in Nigeria knows that the South-South Igbos are the majority in the Niger Delta. However, when an Ikwerre man like Chibuike Amaechi says he is Igbo, he is termed fake Niger Delta but when he says that he is Ikwerre then he is Original Niger Delta.
Few people in Nigeria today agree that the Aniocha, Ikwerre, Abueto, Oshimili, Ika, Ogba, Ekpeye, Ukwuani, Aboh, Ndoni, Abi, Etchie etc are Igbo, fewer people will agree publicly that Governors Liyel Imoke, Nyesom Wike, Chibuike Amaechi, Peter Odili, Ifeanyichukwu Okowa etc are Igbo but in the secret they know and use it against them.
Gov Peter Odili of Rivers state was denied the Presidency and Vice – Presidency of Nigeria at the behest of Clarke and Nuhu Ribadu because he is Igbo though the position was zoned to the South-South where he comes from.
In as much as a system prevails in Nigeria that encourages people to deny their ethnicities, in as much as there is a system that provides the uneven playing ground for all, in as much as lies are promoted above truths then the Nigeria of our dreams shall remain a mirage.
(Victor Wilberforce is a critical thinker and a social engineer)