Uwazuruike and Ndiigbo that Agitate

I have

always harboured the feeling that if ever there will be a man walking on his

head, and walking backwards instead of forwards, such a person will come from Nigeria. It is

only in Nigeria

that the tail wags the dog and the cart pulls the horse. It is only in Nigeria where

public expenditure on higher education is appropriated to produce graduates but

the management of the country is in the hands of non-graduates. It is only in Nigeria where

monkey works and baboon chops.

Nigeria has a funny way of producing her

vital statistics, none of which has anything to do with facts and figures. Nigeria‘s

population census is an exercise in voodoo mathematics. According to Nigeria, the

more you go toward the desert, the more population increases, and the more you

go toward green vegetation the less the population becomes. As well, in Nigeria the

more empty spaces you see in the North the more human beings there are, while

the more human habitation structures you see in the south, the fewer people

exist. Even abracadabra magicians will have a hard time keeping up with the

Nigerian upside-down measurements .

Nigeria so far is the attempt to create a

south zone. There is no southern zone in Nigeria and the attempt to create one

is both fraudulent and lazy. To the extent that there is no underlying unifying

factor within that zone, the concept of a southern zone is totally

unworkable. Underpinning that unworkability is the mutual antagonism of

the various groups in the area. Right now there are at least ten small wars

going on in the area: Okrika vs Ogoni; Ikwerre vs Okrika, Igbo vs

Ikwerre, Itsekiri vs Ijaw, Okirika vs Ikwerre; Igbo vs Ijaw, Ijaw vs Edo;

Isekiri vs Urhobo; Ikwerre vs Kalabari, Ibibio vs Effik; Ikwerre vs Ogoni,

Kalabari vs Okirika; Ogoni vs Andoni, Ibani vs Okrika, core and non-core (or

peripheral south-south), etc.

Igbo people

are regarded as peripheral to the south- south (non-core Deltans etc)

and subjected to dehumanising discriminatory practices in their own country.

The culture is underminned,the tradition is looked down, the language is

funned, the people are ridicled. To declare over half the population of an area

peripheral is grossly unjust. Therefore, Igbo groups in this zone in order to

cope with structural injustice have created a dualised identity- the non-Igbo

Igbo, a status consistent with similar marginalised groups everywhere. They are

tolerated when politics of numbers are played out and excluded when the spoils

of minoritism (south-south) are being shared.

The

psychological impact of this dualised identity on the Igbo of the south-south

zone is self-depreciating, pathetic and wicked. It is like the

phenomenon of passing deployed by the Negro in the deep south of the USA during the

era of racial segregation. In order to be south-south, our Igbo brothers

have to pass as non-Igbo, they have to be at once timid, crafty,

vague, artificial, flaky, fence-sitting and ambivalent (Kassirimism). If

they fail to internalise the minority psychology and be all the above, and they

are accused of being Okoro. These are Igbo who have to show evidence that they

are not Igbo to survive and even this is often not enough for their tormentors

who keep moving the goal post. The controversy over Obasanjo’s appointments in

Delta State, the NNDC headquarters saga, the Asaba-as-capital debate have all

shown that denying Igbo identity is not enough to make any Igbo group core

south-south no matter what .

Three

decades after Biafra, the south-south Igbo are

the only Igbo who are still afraid to be called Igbo, afraid to speak Igbo, to

play Igbo music in their children’s birthdays for fear of being found out. They

are plagued with not knowing what to say when asked about their identity. They

speak wretched pidgin English in public and Igbo in their

closets…Whether those Igbo will continue to accept second class status

in their own country and for how long is crucial in determining the long term

viability of the south-south concept. If and when they unite and say no,

the so-called south-south is finished.

I declare

here and now that based on facts and figures, based on what we all see, based

on geographical indices, based on the density of population per square mile,

based on books written at different times in African history, the Igbo nation

is by far and large the single largest ethnic group in Nigeria. As well, based

on examination statistics at elementary, secondary and tertiary levels, the

JAMB, WAEC, foreign embassies application statistics for student visas to

overseas colleges and universities, the Igbo produce the highest number of

graduates at all levels of education in Nigeria, among Nigerians in other

African countries, and overseas. I have just completed a most arduous study of

African doctoral dissertations and some masters theses at American, European,

Canadian and Australian universities from 1945-1999. The book that I am about

to publish from this study concentrates on Igbo scholars. The number of Igbo

PhDs is far and more than that of any other ethnic group in Africa.

This information in the public domain waiting for whoever is interested to

examine.

Granted

that the statistics used, referred to the past five years at the time, however,

nothing has happened since then to change the trend. Instead, the Igbo have

strengthened their hand especially in the area of higher education, with more

universities created in their areas. As well, today, in any foreign country,

every three out of five Nigerian students in any university is Igbo. If there

are three Nigerian professors in any foreign university, two of them are likely

to be Igbo. The Igbo are seen in every country on the globe where they continue

to increase in number. Without the Igbo customers, most Nigerian businesses,

including food stores would simply close shop. People say the Igbo youth are

beginning to neglect education and going into trade or other occupations.

Still, this does not drastically alter the heavy wave of interest for education

among the Igbo. I have said it at some of my speaking engagements that the Igbo

youths detoured for now, into more income-yielding areas, is a testimony to

their genius and adaptability and not necessarily a bad thing.

Those who

are fond of referring to the Igbo as traders speak from the position of ignorance.

More Igbo are in education than in any other business. More Igbo are in

engineering, sciences and medicine than are in trading. These are facts

available to the public. If Africa should draw

from available trained technical and scientific personnel, the Igbo alone can

supply the base. Technology is second nature to the Igbo, and that is why at Imperial College,

London an Igbo

smashed an all time record there. What other evidence do you need? In

literature, the Igbo constitute the largest number of writers in Africa as they keep multiplying by the day .

I am

prompted to write this article because of the weird effort in Nigeria by

Igbophobes to misrepresent Igbo strength in population and education. In fact,

there are some people who have started to classify the Igbo as a minority

ethnic group, and I heard that in the defunct Nigeria Airways, only Hausa and

Yoruba are spoken. This is, typical Nigeria. Who constitute the bulk of

travellers in Nigeria

other than the Igbo? Port Harcourt Airport records over 90% Igbo of all travellers, Lagos records about 60%,

and so forth.

You do not

have to take my word for it, read books written by as far back as 1911 by

Europeans and C.J. Meeks’s book. The Igbo multiply like ants: for this corner

they dey there and that corner they dey there. Nigerian politicians should stop

kicking against the goad. Almighty God knows why he created the Igbo. He alone

will determine their population. All the political gymnastics and somersaults

in the world will be to no avail. If Nigerians want a reliable figure in

population and education, let them allow the World Bank to do it once and for

all. Continued manipulations of figures, futile boundary adjustments, and

encouraging some NdiIgbo to sell their birthright for a mess of portage can

only continue to create more spiritual problems for Nigeria. The good book says that

the truth shall make thee free.

Perhaps it

was grot that I forgot Lagos, because the Yoruba have always been AMBIVALENT

from time Imo River about whether it is ADVANTAGEOUS to have Lagos

administratively separated from Western Region or not. Recalling history

that in 1951, Lagos was merged with the Western Region against the wishes of

the 1950 Ibadan Constitutional Conference (leading indirectly to the infamous

carpet-crossing incident of which we hear so much about; then the core

“ara oke” Westerners were somewhat concerned about the uppity

Afro-Brazilians who populated Lagos) – the 1967re-emergence of Lagos State as

an administrative entity could therefore be considered 26 years delayed.

However, one must remember that between 1952 and 1963, the Western Region under

Awolowo had created a thriving industrial zone in Ikeja/Ikorodu corridor (which

remains until this day), with Western Region COCOA MONEY and heavy income

taxation. The separate Lagos that was

desired by the Western Region then was FAR SMALLER than the present Lagos State.

So losing Lagos State in 1967 was AGAINST Western Region

wishes, but it was a compromise that had to be reached – or maybe an uncompensated

imposition that still offends some people.

The above

was just a little history, if only for some of my Yoruba compatriots. It is

also a note that TIMING is important in history, politics and

decision-making: what is considered beneficial today may not be beneficial

tomorrow, and what may be considered adverse today may turn out to be the best

decision tomorrow. That is also how the 1967 creation of 12 states to

undercut the nascent Biafra should be

viewed. On the one hand, it was a brilliant move to assuage many concerns

and to nip the secessionists in the bud. On the other hand, it began the

slippery slope to the present fractured economic state of our country. Truth,

as they say, is bitter.

Finally, I

am not so much concerned with asymmetry, because it depends on where the

demarcation line is drawn – and how the states are governed! For example, even

today, Kogi and Kwara are in the main culturally Southern (because of the large

Yoruba population in them) but politically Northern (because of historical

reasons)! Furthermore, it is because the centre is still so powerful,

determined to dole out money to states, that is why we calculate whether it is

giving more money to the South or North or East or West. Do we hear those

kinds of calculations in the United

States? Are there no South or North,

East or West in the US?

So,

again, a plus or minus one or two states-imbalance is not intrinsically

problematic. Obviously, when our country began, the North did not mind

ONE BIG REGION for themselves and TWO (THEN THREE) SMALLER REGIONS in the

South. There was a 3-state imbalance in 1966! Then when they figured out

that it might not be to their disadvantage, they agreed to EQUALIZE the number

of states North and South. That should have given us some pause, but my

general beef with Southern leaders, despite all our education, is lack of

political calculation.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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1 comment
  • This writer is an intelligent writer he has said the truth,and i know that most anti- igbo will not accept this.There is one igbo adage that says ”A BIRD WITHOUT A STRONG SKULL SHOULD NEVER GO WOOD-PECKING”for those full blooded igbo tribe in the south-south zone who keep tossing with thier identity they should know that the sun is rising.