Written by Somto Okonkwo
22nd March 2019
The late People's General, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) globally, issued out warnings on different occasions but they refused to pay heed. For years now, the cry for Igbo Biafrans to return back home from outside Biafraland and invest in their own region has continually fallen on deaf ears.
Undoubtedly, the properties of Igbo Biafrans are scattered throughout the landscape of Nigeria. In a number of cases such as in Abuja and Lagos, the value of these properties is far more than those of other tribes in Nigeria. Some conservative estimates have put the properties of the Igbos outside their homeland, at a value of five hundred billion dollars.
"If you go to a place and you do not find an Igbo man there, then know that such a place is unsafe." This is not the first time I would be hearing the Igbo being described in such a manner.
This saying about the Igbos, collaborate the tale that they are found in virtually everywhere. Not only can the Igbos be found in every local government area in Nigeria, but they are equally active in the economic development of those areas. This attitude of developing elsewhere other than theirs, is how they came about being the major stakeholders in Lagos Trade Fair Complex.
Drawing your attention down the memory lane right from the time of late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Odimegwu Ojukwu consistently warned Ndigbo (Igbo people) to return back home and invest in their towns and villages.
During his lifetime, he was really in tears and constant pain at the huge losses of Igbo Biafrans in Nigeria especially in the Northern region since after the Biafra/Nigerian war. All that transpired during that war between 1967 and 1970, must not be forgotten. After cessation of hostilities, most of the investments of the Igbo Biafrans outside their native homeland, were seized by the Nigerian government while some of their properties were equally stolen from them by the emirs, governors and citizens of Nigeria. In fact, after the war, the surviving Igbo Biafrans were only given just a paltry sum of twenty pounds (£20), to restart life despite the fact that many of them had several millions in their bank accounts. It did not matter whether they had millions and billions worth of investments in the country, yet they were given such meagre sum of money after the war to cover all that was lost.
More than fifty years after and with just twenty pounds (£20), these breed of humans remain yet, the most dominant, powerful, successful, resilient and ingenious tribe in Nigeria but the gruesome killings, marginalisation, persecution and oppression meted on them, remain unabated and presently, we are right back to where we were before the 1967 war. Sadly enough, the Igbo Biafrans continue to be the architect of their own misfortunes and demise as they fail to learn from history.
When the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu was invited to the commissioning of the International Trade Fair Complex in Lagos, he literally cried. He cried because the Igbos formed the core investors in the complex. Those present in that event thought that Ojukwu would eulogise their efforts but he cried, telling them to their faces that he was totally disappointed in them. He sternly warned that in the end, they will regret ever citing their investments in Lagos State because in a matter of time and with the instrumentality of the pen through one legislation, Lagos State will write off their properties. They will forfeit all their homes and life investments which were sunk in the State, returning back home empty handed, to start up afresh again and struggle even in their old age till death.
Ojukwu pointedly mentioned to them that if it happened before, it will happen again. The Ikemba of Nnewi pre-emptively warned them but they never took it to heart. They bluntly refused to heed those words of wisdom and prophecy. They instead, poured more money and several investments to develop Lagos State.
Even Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the courageous and highly enlightened leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) worldwide, also lent his voice in calling on Igbo Biafrans to return back home and make their investments there. Since the past seven years through Radio Biafra broadcasts from London, Ohamadike has repeatedly been talking to his people both in Nigeria and in the diaspora, to look back home and move their massive investments, industries, commerce and even intellectual properties elsewhere homeward, but nobody cared to listen.
The Successful Igbo business class think that they have the monopoly of reason and so only gifted with first class brains, but what has become of all those today? More properties and investment of the Igbos are currently being destroyed and taken over by both the federal and state governments of Nigeria. When exactly will the Igbos learn? When will they stop being naive and architect of their own misfortunes?
Taking a critical look at what they are really going through today in Lagos State, Apapa wharf is no longer the only hob of business in Nigeria. There exists Warri and Calabar wharfs where Igbos can comfortably go and make lucrative investments. Both wharfs can creditably serve even better than that of Lagos. The reason behind what seems to be so attractive to the Igbo people, to so much commit all their resources into Lagos State and other parts of Nigeria, without remembering that they have cities, towns and villages lying still fallow with youths and the elderly languishing in poverty and want, yet remains a puzzle.
My people should please strictly adhere to this popular adage which says: "East or West, home is the best."
Quite a number of five star hotels, business empires and estates worth billions of Dollars (USD) are owned by the business men of Igbo extraction in just Lagos State. The spirit of Lagos has really taken everything away from the Igbo people.
Rock View Hotel in Apapa - Lagos for instance, was built by the owner of Young Shall Grow Transport Company. Yet this man ranks as one of those who made the building of Anambra State Airport, unrealisable till date. All those transporters are the brains behind infrastructural failures that spanned over decades since Anambra became a State. So much that Ndigbo could not build even an aerodrome for helicopters, much more talking about building an airport.
These so-called Igbo elites and multi-billionaires are really the problems facing the people. This crop of individuals have woefully failed to advocate for their own people and the needed developments in their own regions. They instead, have persistently carried on with the enrichment of other states, thereby killing their own fatherland. What then is the hope and future of the Igbo generation if all our labor becomes the prosperity of other states, regions and nations?
Igbos are essentially, the most committed tribe in Nigeria when it comes to displaying their patriotism to the so-called "One-Nigeria" ideology. Yet Nigeria continues to nurture hatred and despair towards these same people. Igbos have progressively suffered losses in their attempt to assimilate into "One-Nigeria". This is rather, very unfortunate and the fact that their region remain largely under-developed, has over the years triggered off relentless calls for them to return back home and develop the Southeast region, a clamor that requires back up action.
Taking a look at the unfolding developments in Lagos State as at Monday 18th March 2019, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Lagos State Government, have in their sinister agenda, completely shutdown the Trade Fair International Complex, thereby threatening a hostile takeover. It can be clearly seen that there is absolutely nothing about the so-called unity in Nigeria. Late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu warned the Igbo people about their multi-billion investments in the Trade Fair International Market but they refused to listen. Just imagine the unfolding development in Lagos State against them.
Seriously consider if you can see, How many Northerners own properties in Enugu, Anambra or other parts of Southeastern States for instance? Not a single Northerner owns anything worth calling a property. No Yoruba man will invest and own a property in the East. It is only the Igbo man that is nationalistic, wherever he goes, he invests and converts it to his own home and moves in with his entire family, no other tribe does this.
From every indication however, I am not optimistic about this country called Nigeria and continuing as one, will be very catastrophic. Most particularly to the Igbo people who will continue to suffer under the umbrella of "One-Nigeria", I beseech you my Igbo brethren, to commence thinking and looking back home. Bring your investments back to Biafraland. We as a people have suffered enough in the bid to show our love and commitment to the "One-Nigeria" mantra. It has now clearly dawned on us to really start thinking about ourselves, our family/loved ones and our generations yet unborn.
Enough is Enough!
- By Somto Okonkwo
Family Writers Press....