By Douglas Anele

 An Igbophobe is someone who for obscure or unconscious irrational reason(s) has a morbid fear or distrust towards an Igbo. On the other hand, an Igbo-hater is a person who hates or thoroughly dislikes Igbo people generally for certain reasons, to the extent of preventing them from gaining employment even on merit.

According to my definition, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, late Sardauna of Sokoto, manifested the mentality of an Igbo-hater when explained to a foreign journalist that he would not employ Ndigbo in the northern civil service because the Igbo are too ambitious and always want to dominate others wherever they find themselves. In other words, an Igbo-hater hates the Igbo for being successful in spite of all odds.

One would describe an Igbomaniac as an Igbo or an avid admirer of Ndigbo from another ethnic group that has an exaggerated opinion of the positive character traits of Igbo people while downplaying the negative ones; someone whose attitude towards them is mirrored in Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s remark that “the God of Africa has specially created the Igbo nation to lead the children of Africa from the bondage of the ages.”

As an Igbo, a self-conscious one at that, sometimes I try during personal silent moments to understand why the Igbo, despite their famed industriousness, unsurpassed accomplishments, capacity to turn nothing into something anywhere they are domiciled, creative imagination, and fearlessness have consistently played second or third political fiddle especially to the Fulani and the Yoruba.

I recognise that the pace of Igbo decline in the geopolitical architectonic of Nigeria has accelerated since the defeat of Biafra over fifty-one years ago, but I just cannot fathom why the so-called Igbo leaders as a whole seem very unwilling to unify and do something concrete about it.

In his little book, The Trouble with Nigeria, Prof. Chinua Albert Achebe claims that Nigerians will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo. Now, although Igbophobes and Igbo-haters might detect a whiff of hyperbole in that assertion or dismiss it by claiming that the globally acclaimed novelist was making mountains out of molehills, there is doubt in my mind that any objective observer of Nigerian history since independence to date would definitely conclude that the most prominent ruling elite or power blocks outside Igboland have deliberately put manmade obstacles to prevent Ndigbo from actualising their potentials as a people let alone acknowledge that Ndigbo are the makers of modern Nigeria and give them their due in that regard.

In other words, instead of seeing the Igbo as extremely important equal partners in the flawed Nigerian project and work alongside them to build a solid, economically viable and politically stable nation, the most powerful wing of the military-civilian establishment in the core north, south-west and south-south see Ndigbo as rivals that must be contained and, if possible, suppressed and subjugated.

Without a doubt, the intentional policy of Igbo marginalisation is one of the reasons why Nigeria is stymied in a futile Sisyphean cycle of mediocrity and chronic underdevelopment despite her impressive human and material endowments.

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Of course, this does not mean that giving Ndigbo the position they really deserve will automatically turn Nigeria into an El Dorado. On the contrary, the point being made is that punitive immediate post-war policies against Igbo people several of which still remain today, such as the twenty pounds policy; the Indigenisation Decree of 1972; the hideous Abandoned Property programme; banning Igbo dominated businesses such as importation of okrika (second-hand clothing)and stockfish; ceding of mostly oil-bearing parts of Igboland to other non-majority Igbo-speaking states; sinister exclusion of the Igbo from the most consequential loci of power and authority particularly in the security apparatchik; as well as deliberate refusal by northern heads of state and their enablers to cite capital-and-labour intensive industries and infrastructure such as refineries, seaports, international airports, industrial and power plants in Igboland have had serious negative boomerang effects on the country.

But some foolish, selfish and morally disabled Igbo sons and daughters in positions of authority and influence have contributed to the sorry state of Igboland. Since 1970, with the possible exception of late Chief Sam Mbakwe, Mr. Peter Obi, and to some extent Dr. Chris Ngige, most of the governors that had emerged in the south-eastern states deserve life imprisonment with hard labour for the grossly incompetent manner they have managed available scarce resources in their states.

Despite the criminal neglect of Igboland by successive administrations at the federal level, Igboland would have been the cynosure of all eyes in terms of economic development powered by massive investment in human capital and infrastructure had these people made optimum use of the funds from federal allocation and internally generated revenue.

Any reasonable Igbo with a simulacrum of self-respect and dignity will feel ashamed and disappointed at the quality of governance by political leaders in Igboland especially since 1999. In my home state, Imo, there has been a blizzard of poor quality leadership which has grown progressively worse culminating in the astonishingly crooked emergence of Hope Uzodinma as governor.

Let me put it this way: irrespective of the truckloads of exculpatory rubbish in the media by crumb-eating puppets and hirelings of governors of Imo State from 1999 to date, there is conclusive evidence of lack of good governance and recycling of mediocrity throughout that period. Presently, it is unrealistic to expect Uzodinma to provide responsible leadership given his ignoble antecedents – you cannot give what you do not have.

His willingness to serve as a factotum to Fulani caliphate colonialists who dredged him up from the forth position and made him governor has sealed his fate as one of the worst governors to preside over Imo. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, like his Imo counterpart, believes that ingratiating himself with President Muhammadu Buhari and his fellow Fulani caliphate supremacists would help his political ambition after his tenure as governor.

Unknown to him, no sensible person will trust completely anyone willing to betray the collective interests of his people for temporary selfish political and pecuniary advantage. Therefore, Umahi will eventually regret his bad political choices that placed his people at the mercy of those oppressing them.

Concerning the governors of Abia, Anambra and Enugu states, the major difference between them and the ones mentioned earlier is that they have not caved in completely to the pressures from Fulani conquistadores to take over the ancestral lands of their people – not yet.

Unfortunately, they have also not spoken out with the characteristic courage of the Igbo against violent attempts of Fulani terrorists, surreptitiously backed by some in, and outside government, to make large swathes of their states’ homeland for nomadic Fulani.

Needless to say, it is the leadership vacuum across Igboland in the face of a resurgent Wahhabi Islamism moving down southwards that necessitated the emergence of Nanmdi Kanu and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB) whose message of liberation from the threatening Fulani enslavement resonates with a vast number of people throughout Igboland.

Had the governors and other political leaders from Igboland lived up to their responsibilities, Kanu and his organisation would not have been so popular at the grassroots and beyond.

Back to the question of the resentment and hatred of the Igbo by a significant number of their compatriots from other parts of the country, Prof. Achebe argues, correctly, that the hatred and resentment arose from the unequalled successes Ndigbo achieved in the professions, education, and economic advancement before independence and the outbreak of the civil war.

In fact, at independence, the Igbo dominated the top echelons of federal public service and statutory corporations, which led to the accusation that they were monopolising essential services to the exclusion of other ethnic groups.

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