To Kill The Igbo Is To Kill Nigeria

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It has always been there. Mutual distrust between Igbo and Yoruba. But distrust is part of human behaviour. Even in the most homogenous of communities, distrust exists among the people. Every community of animals and humans feeds an ego manifested in distrust. In the jungle, the lion and the tiger are not the best of friends, though both belong to the feline family.

Distrust should never divide and destroy our humanity. But it is doing so now, in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Without a doubt, Lagos is Yorubaland. Historically. Ancestrally. Traditionally. It is the home of the Aworis, a mystically powerful migrant group from the Oduduwa of Ile -Ife. Anybody questioning this truism needs psycho help. Yes, Lagos is Yorubaland, but not every Yoruba is a Lagosian by ancestry. This historical dictum must not be lost in any argument.  

And as Lagos has its original indigenes, so has other parts of the country, and indeed the world.

The indigenous people of the United States are the American Indians or Alaska natives. This is not forgetting the native Hawaiians, Samoan Americans, and the Chamorros. But over the centuries, that patch of the earth where they once occupied has evolved into the most powerful and most sophisticated part of the earth with men and women of diverse nationalities, religions and tongue becoming citizens of that great country of many nations.

It’s much the same way modern England evolved from the Britons aka Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons, known for their Celtic language and culture. They are the forerunner of the Welsh, Cornish and Bretons of the middle Age, and modern day Britain. The trend sweeps across the globe. Some natives have ingeniously engineered ways to lay claim of ownership of their ancestral home without hurting their visitors or settlers. Reason is: they need the input of settlers or migrants to collectively develop their original homes. The sophistication and advancement of America was not achieved by the American Indians alone. America became a super power because it tapped generously into the global diversity of humanity. America welcomed migrants including blacks from Africa. Collectively and individually, these migrants pooled their strength and resources to build the most sophisticated country on the face of the earth.

Till this date, America still opens her hands to welcome humans from every race and tribe. The Diversity Visa lottery programme introduced by the United States was to ensure that she keeps her doors open for young, smart brains from across the globe to migrate to the US. Nigerians including Igbo, Fulani, Yoruba, Hausa and others have profited from the open-door policy of the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Nigerians migrate in droves to these exotic territories and blossom like May flower. In some cases, these were Nigerians rendered helpless in their country by evil leaders whose forte is not good governance but sowing hate in the minds of misguided youths and vagrants.

In recent weeks in Lagos, there has been a resurgence in the ethnic rivalry between the Yoruba and the Igbo of a dimension that draws the chill. But it was needless and should never be tolerated in the 21st century. This rivalry which borders on hate had been there, sometimes latent. At other times, it sprouts in the most unlikely places. The 2023 general elections have further provided the fodder for the merchants of ethnic hate to vend their wares. In the full glare of the police (which, by the way, scored abysmally low in their conduct during the election), thugs openly attacked persons suspected to be Igbo. They were threatened not to vote for candidate of their choice with a blind assumption that such candidate will not be their own candidate. I witnessed at a polling unit in Ajao Estate in Lagos, a thug bearing machete in company of others lugging clubs and cudgels, and screaming instructions that no person in the polling unit should vote for any party except the APC. That same day, I saw a video of a similar threat to any person that would not vote for Labour Party in Enugu. In the Lagos area, there were video footages of thugs attacking Igbo voters and warning them never to dare such adventure of voting any other candidate except the APC candidates.

Such acts of brigandage is only to be tolerated in the wild animal kingdom. In the 21st century when mortal man is exploring space and expanding the frontiers of tech through innovation, all we bother about in Nigeria is whether our neighbour is Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa. There must be something mentally disoriented about any person who belches ethnic hate at these times. Not even animals in the wild steep so deep in the nadir of hate. Those who see nothing good in another tribe are the real enemies of humanity. They are worse than Polonium-210, that killer radioactive substance capable of wiping off a community, insidiously.

Igbo are not the problem of the Yoruba, and vice versa. All over the world, Igbo have earned honour. Microsoft, IBM, Google, Facebook, Amazon and sundry big players in the tech space have found the awesome smartness and innate illustriousness of the Igbo useful. The average Igbo is a builder. Igbo are Republican and cosmopolitan by nature. They have a knack to turn any desert into an oasis of commerce and industry. Some scholars, obviously amazed at the chutzpah and spunk that drive the Igbo, have traced their ancestry to the Jewish nation of Israel, a small but mighty nation whose citizens, just like the Igbo, are all over the world doing great things. I salute the industry of the Igbo. It’s legendary. They have moved into Asaba, my state capital, and adjoining towns, buying swaths of land and planting estates. Asaba, once a sleepy coastal town, now wears a new look, the magnificence of a capital city, not just by the efforts of Deltans and Delta state government, but significantly because Igbo have come into town with their money and their industry.

Armchair critics and analysts who say why can’t Igbo stay in Igboland should first ponder why Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbo, Hausa can’t stay in their Nigeria. Why do they migrate to United Kingdom, United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen et al? Igbo add value to societies. They added value to Aba, Onitsha, Nnewi, turning the south east into a manufacturing hub feeding Africa and global markets with their products. Some of the shoes you buy in Dubai are made in the south east; no debate. Stop hating the Igbo, rather study them to understand why they prosper anywhere they go. Find out why the Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme has become a case study at Harvard. Igbo are busy, hard working people. They have no time to hate. They are job and wealth creators. They are innovative as they are courageous. They take calculated risk. Don’t bother to kill them. To kill the Igbo is to kill Nigeria. Every tribe has its flaws. The more you focus on the speck of flaws in others, the more you grow unaware of the log of flaws you bear in you. Our diversity is an asset; not a liability.”

Written By Ken Ugbechie


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