By Ike A Offor
It is disturbing when some Nigerians like Prof. Kingsley Moghalu make wrong assumptions just to score political points, he needs to be reminded about obvious facts he may have missed. His recent essay that the Igbo must move on caught my attention and that is why I am addressing it.
First of all, I want to remind him that the Igbo have moved on but unfortunately Nigeria have not moved on but bear unending grudges against the Igbo. Such grudges is why the region has been neglected and marginalised.
How do you know that the Igbo have moved on?
The answer to this question is everywhere in Nigeria and on every Nigerian lip when they want to be honest or want to express their anger about the Igbo buying up all their lands in their region or that they owned all businesses in their lands. The north and South West complain about the Igbo investing too much in their region, and want them out. Who then has grudges fro the past and who has moved on.
The evidence that the Igbo have moved on is why every village in Nigeria has Igbo man investing heavily in his businesses, building houses, hotels and supermarkets. Because the Igbo man has moved on is why the Igbo man go far and wide to embrace fellow Nigerians and invest in every town, city and village around Nigeria. If he has not moved on, he would not have done these things. Like one half Igbo and Hausa artist puts it recently, no Nigerian is more Nigerian than an Igbo man for these obvious reasons.
It is because the Igbo have move on is why they have huge control of the economic activities all around the country and even abandoned their own region while investing outside their own region. If the Igbo man has not moved on and has bitterness left from the war, they would have dug trenches and been fighting guerrilla war but he is busy investing and residing all over Nigeria at the detriment of their region, which many have deemed unwise. Perhaps, in the process of Igbo trying to be too patriotic they neglected their own backyard.
On the other hand, Nigeria have not moved on when the Igbo have long moved on since the war ended.
Let me quote Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe here. “The war ended 50 years ago but federal government still behave as if the war is still on” (though not verbatim)
Senator Enyinnaya succinctly captured it there how the Igbo have moved on but the federal government still treats the South East as if it is still at war with the region.
After the war ended, the federal military government under Gen. Yakubu Gowon with Biafra agreed to the 3Rs, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation but the federal government never fulfilled a single aspect of that agreement. Until today, there is almost no federal presence in the entire South East region. The federal roads in the East are the worst in the entire country. Even when these federal roads are rehabilitated by South East governors, they are hardly reimbursed by the federal government. This has discouraged the governors from expending state resources on the federal roads.
There is no international airport in the entire region until Goodluck Jonathan converted Dr Akanu Ibiam airport to International airport. Until then, the Igbo had to make the treacherous trip to Lagos to fly or go to Port Harcourt, when the region is supposed to have at least three international airports since they are topmost fliers in the country. These were done to make sure the economy of the region suffers and helped to force the citizens of the region to move away to other regions where they would easy access to these facilities.
The entire South East is not deemed fit to have seaports when the region commands the huge percentage of business ownership in the country. The Igbo travel more and do more business within and with the outside world, but the federal government does not see the region fit enough to have a seaport. Every effort was put in place to strangle the economy of the region via lack of international airport and seaports and other policies to make life hard for the Igbo
The federal governments located steel plants in Ajokuta and left out the South East though coal needed in the project is in abundance in Enugwu. They built petroleum refineries every other places and left out the East. They built airports, seaports and left out the South East. But they have built hundreds of checkpoints in the South East but the insurgency war I in the north. When will the war end?
This is not to remove the blame from the region’s state governors who have also failed to do their own bit to help push the region’s economy. They have failed to upgrade and maintain requisite infrastructural amenities for their states to do well. They have failed to build industrial estates where businesses need to incubate and grow.
You see while the Igbo have moved on, the federal government in the other hand have not moved on but maintained policies to strangulate the economy of the region and make it impossible for the region to prosper. After the war ended the federal military government revoked the licence of department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Nigeria Nsuka because it was the brain behind the chemical, biological even nuclear warfare researches that sent chills down the spine of the federal military government. And up till now such policy has not been reversed. The 3Rs accord has not been implemented and there is no plan to ever revisit it or implement it.
So, you can see that the Igbo have moved on but Nigeria have not moved on. Let’s not talk about the incessant marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things in Nigeria. The Igbo have moved on so much that other Nigerians in their regions are now asking the Igbo to move away from their regions. So, what does Nigeria really want from the Igbo?