Nigeria is a country of so many tribes and people from diverse backgrounds. The Igbo is one of the three major ethnic groups in the country. It played its role creditably in the struggle to wrestle Nigeria’s independence through her powerhouse of dedicated, patriotic and intellectual politicians.
The contributions of the Igbo in the development of Nigeria are quite evident everywhere you go. The Igbo is the only ethnic group that builds bridges across the land and provides a strong unifying factor. They can be found settling everywhere in the country and finds a home anywhere they inhabit and impacting their places of abode. This cannot be said of other ethnic groups.
The Igbo parades very unique characteristics that stands them out and can survive under the harshest of conditions. There is no doubt that this has been the envy of others. There is virtually no area of endeavour that they have not distinguished themselves quite creditably irrespective of the numerous challenges lined on their path.
Before the civil war, the South East where the Igbo are dominant is touted as the fastest growing economy of the world leveraging on agricultural products to improve its fortune. After the pogrom which was designed to exterminate the Igbo, various measures have been instituted to continually keep the Igbo under the jackboot.
To mention just a few, such policies as the failure to rehabilitate the Biafra land after the war, the 20 pounds refund to anybody who wants to convert his old currencies or bank balances, the Nigeria Enterprises Promotion Decree or the Indigenization policy, manipulated population census, are all repressive.
Others include the creation of more states and local governments in favour of the north, lack of development of the sea ports in the Igbo axis, lack of standard international airports and other exploitative actions. All of these formed the overt and indirect actions to diminish the ability of the Igbo people to compete on a level playing ground with other regions.
The excessive road check points and the continuous harassment of custom officials of Igbo business men as well as excessive levies on Igbo shops and businesses in other states like Lagos are all part of the efforts to undermine the people.
The South East remains the only region with the least number of states among the other regions and every cry to increase it has been falling on deaf ears. This is not only a political impediment but negatively impacts the economic potentials of the group who are dominant in the commerce of this country.
At no time has the Igbo been marginalized than under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. His actions are very glaring and he is not hiding it.
Buhari had stated categorically in his first tenure in an interview with an international media organization that he was not going to treat the South East who gave him 5% votes like the rest of Nigeria who gave him 97 percent. He made good this assertion by abandoning the federal character principle and denying the Igbo all the positions they ought to have.
It was not anything different in his second tenure in 2019 and the recent appointments of service chiefs that excluded the Igbo shows he is unrepentant and ready to perpetuate his stand in spite of the outcries of the Igbo people. Today the South East is still under represented in nearly all top positions and thoroughly neglected by the federal authorities in spite of the huge capacities and potentials it can boast of.
During the week, President Buhari appointed a set of new service chiefs and shockingly no Igbo of South East extraction was picked. This has set tongues wagging among the Igbo. Many have alluded that the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff from Delta State represents the Igbo slot. We wish to quickly remind that Delta State is not South East neither would the appointment of the Transport Minister who bears an Igbo name from Rivers State represent the South East.
The continued marginalization of the Igbo we wish to remind is the reason why the agitation for a separatist state has continued unabated and would continue so long the government is not prepared to make amends.
News Echo wishes to advise the federal government to cease from making any part of the country appear as not belonging to the whole. The Igbo are agitated over the manner the issues affecting them have been handled. We believe that the government can do better.