Ndigbo: Their waning Economic Influence in Nigeria

by Felix-Abrahams Obi

The interesting thing about the Nigerian clime is its constant state of flux. This is in keeping with the universal phenomenon and global trend wherein change is seen as the only “constant variable” that drives development. So it is with my beloved Nigeria where the past few years have recorded tremendous changes in the very fabric of the society especially in the socioeconomic, political and artistic milieu of this country. Much as I am interested in who occupies Aso Rock on May 29,2007 and who heads the CBN or the Economic Reconstruction Team that is steering the ongoing “reforms” post May 2007, my attention for now is on the Nigerian”knowledge economic” scene vis-à-vis the role of Ndigbo.

MASSOB and other IBO pressure groups have been crying out against the marginalization of Ndigbo in general and this has been on the front burner of political discourse within the Nigerian context. This however is not my major pre-occupation at the moment. It is not as though I am not a Biafran apologist for I was born shortly after the Biafran war and grew up with hatred and prejudice towards those who killed my kit and kin in the North and thereafter brought the slaughtering chambers close to my village. I have relatives who either died in the war or were incapacitated by the armory of the Federal Forces in their bid to make Nigeria “One Indivisible Country”.

As kids growing up in the 1970s, we were proud of the heroic exploits of our kit and kin that fought to defend our cities and villages. We regaled the gallantry and ingenuity of our brothers who, out of necessity and ingenuity produced the lethal and monstrous “Ogbunigwe” bomb which decimated the marauding Federal Forces. We grew up with a nostalgic but sublime picture of a Biafran state which would have turned into a developed country within Africa save for the eventual surrender! I was proud to see waterproof Biafran Pounds which had a better paper quality than the Nigerian Naira. We hoped to resume the struggle someday.and that struggle has even started, but I have not been part of it.Worsestill, I do not absolutely subscribe to it because the times have changed! Nigeria has grown more complex than it was 40 years ago and I have interacted with people from all hues and tribes of Nigeria to see that time and things have changed.Moreso,globalization has turned the tide of nationalism such that the holistic development of a group of people, like the Ibos no longer can be achieved through insularism as exemplified by the clamour for sequestration of Ibos into a Biafran Nation.

This opinion I know, would draw the ire of my “Umunne na Umunna” at home and Diaspora who are passionate and have committed their time, resources and life goals into championing this Ibo cause. For sure, the issue of strategic marginalization ,cum deliberate and organized neglect of Ndigbo by the successive heads of the Federal Government in their developmental policies cannot be debated. We know it has been there just as the use of hunger and starvation helped in bringing the Biafran Forces to the point of ultimate subjugation and surrender.

But how long would the Iboman bemoan and lament his perils? And where has the innate resilience of the Iboman gone? Yea! I mean that inner quality of creative perseverance that made him push through dire circumstances during the civil war to earn a “No Victor, No Vanquished” toga or call it status?

Much as the Ibos cry over political alienation and marginalization by the Federal Government over the years, what has our collective leadership done to bring a creative turn around? We are proud to call ourselves “The Lost Tribe of the Jews” but have we really replicated the resilience, strategic thinking and sublime survival strategies exhibited by the Jews in Palestine? There is a saying in Igboland that ” onye ndi iro gbara gburu gburu na eche ndu ya mgbe nile’.Hence ,should the bulwarks of an enemy surround you, it behoves you to protect yourself by all means to ensure your continued or collective survival. And if we (IBOS) see ourselves as an endangered species under siege by political forces beyond our political will and power, what has become of our much averred mental fecundity?

It was the mental acuity and strength of willpower exemplified by the Jews that made them bounce back post-world war II against the expectations of anti-Semitic forces in Europe. And dare we speak of the Jew -loathing and the annihilating forces marshaled against the Israelis by their Arab neighbors who helm them from all the 4 corners of their landscape. Yet “Ndi Jew”( The Jews) have thrived in a holistic sense against the wishes and caprices of their surrounding neighbours, yet sworn enemies. They have turned deserts into oasis through the Kibbutz system of farming as prophesied by Isaiah, and transformed dry and rocky mountains into lush gardens of vines and grapes that the whole world crave for!

So where lies the much-harped ingenuity of the Ibo man? If Ndigbo are one of the Jewish tribes that strayed away from the Promised Land to the Land of Africa, is it possible that we suffered an irreversible genetic mutation which has so incapacitated and made the victim mentality, the pervasive mind set that guides our consciousness? The Jews who lived and those who still live in Europe, Russia, and North America may not have occupied political positions, but they never were and could not be made economic push-overs to say the least. The Jewish lobby in USA steers the economic and by extension, the political direction that each successive American Government must tow through their economic might. They hold the jugular of the American economy, and use it to achieve their political survival and relevance. They can manipulate the stock market and create a ripple effect at Wall Street and the occupants of the Oval Office will buckle and reel in fear. That is the power of knowledge economics which is ruling the contemporary world. The Asians especially Indian-Americans and Americans of Chinese descent are building their own economic base steadfastly which would be of political significance in the America of tomorrow.

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1 comment

Sylvester Fadal May 16, 2006 - 2:11 pm


You have spoken wisely. You may get unfairly battered for your objective thoughts and recommendations but it is all part of the game. Remain strong.


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