Among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Igbo are without a doubt, one of the most remarkable. So remarkable, indeed, that some have even traced their ancestry to biblical Israel, as the far-flung descendants of Jacob, the Jewish patriarch. Gad, Jacob’s seventh son, is said to have had three sons who settled in South-eastern Nigeria. These sons; Eri, Arodi, and Areli, are believed to have fathered clans in Igbo-land and to have founded such Igbo towns as Aguleri, Arochukwu, Owerri, and Umuleri.
Igbo genius Even the bitterest adversaries of the Igbo cannot but admit that, as a people, they are very resourceful and ingenious. Indeed, this has often been the cause of their envy and dislike by others. However, more enlightened non-Igbo Nigerians see this as a cause for celebration. While today, the center-point of Nigeria’s manufacturing is situated in the Lagos/Ogun axis, there is no doubt that the real locomotive of Nigeria’s indigenous industrialization lies farther afield in Aba and in the mushrooming cottage-industries of the Igbo heartland.
In one of the paradoxes of Nigerian history, the terrible civil war provoked homespun industrialization in the South-East. Military blockade left the Igbo with little alternative than to be inventive in a hurry. While Nigeria as a nation failed woefully to harness this profitably after the war, it has nevertheless ensured that the Igbo are at the forefront of Nigeria’s economic development today.
Indeed, the way we disregard “made in Aba” today is the same way we disregarded “made in Japan” yesterday. For those of us who believe against the odds that Nigeria is the China of tomorrow, we equally recognize that the ingenuity of the Igbo is an indelible part of the actualization of that manifest destiny.
Hall of fame
The Igbo have been a great credit to Nigeria. They have given us a great number of our favorite songs, including international statesman Nnamdi Azikiwe; military leader Odumegwu Ojukwu; regional leader Michael Okpara; vice-president Alex Ekwueme; mathematical genius Chike Obi; literary icon Chinua Achebe; world-class economist Pius Okigbo; world boxing champion Dick Tiger; international statesman Emeka Anyaoku; and world-class artist Ben Enwonwu. Permit me to include in this illustrious list even some of my very good Igbo friends: Pat Utomi, Ojo Madueke, Olisa Agbakoba, Joy Ogwu, and Stanley Macbeth.
Let us get one thing straight: Nigeria would be a much poorer country without the Igbo. Indeed, Nigeria would not be Nigeria without them. Can you imagine the Super Eagles without the Igbo? Not likely! Who can forget Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha, and our very own Emmanuel Amuneke? Can you imagine Nollywood without the Igbo?
Impossible! Just think of Stella Damascus-Aboderin; Rita Dominic and Mike Ezuruonye. And then there are the diaspora Igbo who many are unaware are of Igbo descent, including concert singer and actor Paul Robeson; Oscar award-winner Forest Whitaker; mega-pastor T.D. Jakes; Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu; and BAFTA actor award-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor.
You may well wonder why I have found it necessary to present this small litany of Igbo who-is-who. I think it is important to emphasize how the Igbo has been very vital to the Nigerian project. They have more than represented Nigeria creditably in virtually all walks of life. This makes it all the more absurd that these same people have been consistently denied the position of executive president of the country in all but six months of Nigeria’s 54-year history.
“Igbos are blessed, South East are blessed, only if they can look beyond Nigeria politics and focus on the God gifted talent, they will excel, and be great again.
“Seceding or agitation isn’t the solution only if they can realize their great potentials and focused on it, develop and build South East, look beyond Nigeria politics since it seems like it’s not their calling,” he added.
Addressing the youths, “make a good choice today so that your future will justify you. Stop thinking what a mortal man sitting on the Aso Rock can do for you and start thinking about how you can be great to yourself.
Furthermore, every human is gifted only if you can find and develop the potentials in you.”
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