By Ebele Orakpo
Truly speaking, we have a very, very long way to go as a people,” commented Iyke as the commuter bus glided through the surprisingly light traffic along the Oshodi – Oworonshoki road, en route to Obalende via Third Mainland Bridge. “Everything is just wrong! We are specialists in the copy and paste business, yet, we have not been able to copy the western world correctly.”
“We are very good copiers all right but we copy the aspects that suit us and leave the rest,” said Mike.
“If we are really copying everything, by now, we should have known that in the US for instance, if you live in Texas, you are regarded as a Texan and if you move to Alaska tomorrow, you are an Alaskan and you are free to contest election if you know you have what it takes,” said Iyke.
“Exactly! I remember an American lady called to ask me if a popular American football player was my relation because we bear the same last name and I said no, but he is from my home town. The way she quickly refuted that, you will think I had committed sacrilege. She said; “No, he is an American, may be his parents are from Nigeria.
“I didn’t know what to say. This was quite different from what is going on in our country. Here, a child is born in a town, grows up in the place, graduates and starts working, paying tax in that same state, may even buy land and build houses or open his own business and employ people; despite all these, he is still regarded as a settler, a stranger in his country and when the chips are down, he discovers that if he has no ties in his so-called state of origin, he is damned,” said Ada.
“As long as this attitude continues, we are simply going to be moving round and round the circle without making any progress,” noted Mike.
“The Black man is something else. He complains of the white man discriminating against him, and now he does even worse to his fellow Blacks. South Africa is a good example,” said Iyke.
“But the Igbos who are always seeking to move to other regions, buy land, put up structures and establish businesses, what is wrong with their own part of the country? Is it a taboo to establish their businesses there?’ queried Kaycee.
“I like what Hon. Dino Melaye said during a book launch in Abuja recently. The book was on the civil war. Melaye said the Igbos should forget about the civil war and forge ahead. He said 80 per cent of the hotels in Abuja are owned by Igbos, they are very enterprising so they should get themselves together and go and develop the South-East, make it a strong economic bloc and people will come looking for them,” said Austin.
“True talk! Some will tell you if they move their businesses to the South-East, (SE)people will not patronise them and I tell them it’s a big lie! Look at Onitsha Main market for instance, people come from all nooks and crannies of West Africa and beyond to buy things so if today, they decide to move down to the SE, believe you me, people who need what they have to offer will go looking for them,” said Iyke.
“Good point my brother. I think the ball is now in the court of the South-East governors to do something. They must create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive. I know that lack of federal government presence in the SE contributed to that movement but we can remedy the situation. It is not too late,” counselled James.
“The SE governors should provide the space and the business people will develop it because if you wait for government, you will wait forever. After all, all the places they built up outside the SE were done by the business people themselves and not government,” said Austin.