July 26, 2013

The Igbos have more at stake in Nigeria

THE  recent twist in Nigerian politics leading to agitations for presidency based on ethnic and zonal cleavages, has led some to the conclusion that no leader can emerge that will unite Nigeria.

Their reasons include that a Northern leader will attract resistance from other zones, because the North led this nation for 35 out of 50 years and basically brought us to this stage of despair.

The South West got power from the military in 1999; their leadership brought in GEJ, under whom we are still groping, with insecurity and bad politicking threatening the very existence of the country, while the North has vowed to remove him from Aso Rock.

Many, therefore, reason that Nigeria has reached a stage where no leader will be able to unite the country. I do not agree with this position, and I am not alone.

There is yet a zone that has shown complete and unalloyed loyalty to the nation of Nigeria, and within that zone lies the leadership that will take Nigeria out of the doldrums. An honest check of the investments by ethnic personalities and individuals across the country, take us to one ethnic group that qualifies by reason of their investments in each state of Nigeria to produce a leader that will bring unity.

My unaided estimates, for want of verifiable statistics, show that in Lagos, Igbo investment is not less than N300 trillion; it is double of that in Abuja at about N600 trillion.

In Kano and Kaduna, Igbo investments run up to N10 trillion respectively; while in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, Igbo investment run into N5 trilion respectively. In Plateau State Igbo investment is hovering over N15 trillion! I can confidently add that there is no state in Nigerian where Igbo investments in business do not exceed N5 billion.

Capitalism is about investments, profits and financial power. The Holy Scripture tells us a man’s heart is always where his treasures are kept. Igbo treasures and investments are spread across every nook and corner of Nigeria.

It makes sense to me to posit that only an Igbo man can bring unity to Nigeria. The problem is that those Igbo haters do not want to face this fact and would prefer our continued suffering as a nation,than accepting this honest reality! A few reports of this reality will help us.

In 2007, the Minister for FCT,Mallam Nasir el-Rufai declared that “Igbos have acquired about 73 percent of landed property in Abuja”.

He was addressing a gathering of South East elected officials,he also revealed how the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ahmadu Ali abused him for demolishing his house in Asokoro District in Abuja.On a lighter mood, el-Rufai called on the Igbos to take Abuja as the sixth state of the South East in view of their dominance of the real estate sector of the FCT.

He pointed out that such dominance explains why the Igbos appear to have been the worst victims of the demolition exercise in the territory.For instance, he said 68 percent of the land allocations in the FCT belong to the 19 Northern states, but in actual land ownership, 73 percent belong to the Igbos with the most aggressive in land ownership belonging to the indigenes of Anambra State, while Ebonyi lags behind.

In Benue State, in 2010,  when the Igbo community resolved to boycott the popular Zaki Biam Yam Market, the biggest in the nation, over disagreements with the host community, the market ran into serious challenges. In reaction to this, Governor Gabriel Suswan said: “Any state government that ignores the Igbo does so at the risk of its economy.

It is in this wise that I appointed a high-powered official in my government from the Igbo community to liaise between me and the community…; as we develop further, the issue of where one hails from will no longer be an issue because people from other communities would contest and win elections in communities where they reside and have made contributions”.

During the Jos crises in 2011, a coalition of people from the South-East , South-South and South-West resident in Jos, Plateau State said “that since the crises started in the state, the Yoruba had lost property worth N450bn; the Igbo, N410bn; and South-South, N110bn.The three groups from the year 1994 to date lost property estimated at over N970bn.”

In Maiduguri in 2011, it was reported that “the majority of the non-natives, especially Igbos, have resorted to selling their houses and other landed property, at ridiculously cheaper rates, saying that they no longer feel safe to carry out their businesses in Maiduguri and other neighboring Northern states.”

In 2012, following the death of some Igbos in a bomb explosion in Kano, an Igbo leader was reported as saying: “With more than one million Igbos and our over N20 billion investments in Kano, this is our home away from home. And no one can force us to return home where… land  is scarce and expensive for setting up new businesses.”

A report this year 2013 has it that “the Igbo community in Kogi State has concluded plans to launch N200 million social responsibility fund to facilitate development of the permanent site of a comprehensive college under the aegis of Igbo Community Association, Lokoja branch”.

The Igbo community in Kogi State plan to use the commissioning of the college to celebrate its centenary anniversary, which exemplifies peaceful communal living in Nigeria.

President of the association, Mr. O.A. Achinivu, said: “The official handover of the college project to Kogi State government is expected to coincide with Nigeria’s Centenary of programmes, under the theme: “Cultural Integration: Veritable Tool for National Unity.”

If Nigeria wants peace, only an Igbo president can give us unity, peace, and progress, because the Igbo people have more at stake in Nigeria, than all other federating ethnic units. You may take it or leave it, the facts and reports speak for themselves.

Mr.  CLEMENT UDEGBE, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos.