The other ethnic groups in former Eastern Nigerian have been made to believe that Nd’igbo were responsible for the under development in their areas. As a matter of fact even outside former Eastern Nigeria that assumption still holds. A Benin classmate in medical school said his father told them that the Igboman is very wicked. That if you employ Igboman in your rubber farm to tap rubber for you, he will tap the rubber tree until the tree dies. I was amazed. The rubber owned by the Benin man, he employs an Igbo to tap, will wait for the rubber to die b4 stopping the poor Igbo tapper? You and l know it is not true, others may swallow it line hook and sinker.The indigenes of Niger Delta first went to School, embraced civilization before Igbos in the hinterland.
They were better prepared for civil service/white collar jobs as at the time Nd’Igbo were still hunting rabbits and farming in the bush. As at the time Rev. Hope Wadell came to Calabar about 1846, the Obong of Calabar and the family were already trading with Europeans and keeping records, so they had education. Coincidentally today 27th July makes it 163 years Christianity, followed by education came to Igbo land through the expedition of Samuel Ajayi Crowther.
They arrived Onitsha 27th July 1857. This brought about, evangelisation on both banks of Niger-Asaba on the left and Onitsha on the right. First Europeans, Portuguese arrived Nigeria-Ishekiri/Benin Kingdom 1485, long before slave trade. Even with this the Delta Igbos embraced education more than the Benin, Urhobo and the Ishekiris after 1857. When Midwest was created out of Old Western region, in the 60s of the 12 permanent Secretaries that left Ibadan to Benin, the new capital, 9 were delta Igbos. Of the 9 Doctors at Benin Central Hospital, 8 were delta Igbos. The Judiciary had Idigbe and other Igbo speakining people. This attracted so much envy that during the Asaba massacre most of those professionals who were home were all killed in cold blood. Bonny, Nembe and other riverine areas were already in business. There are many like that. In that former Eastern Nigeria where the minorities were marginalised:
The first African Principal of DMGS Onitsha, was SJ Cookey from Opobo.
The first African Principal Govt College Umuahia was Erekosima, Kalabari
The first African Principal, Government Secondary school, Owerri was Kombo, Nembe
Mboto from Itigidi was in charge in Government Secondary school Afikpo.
The first African Chief Dental Surgeon Eastern Nigeria was Dr. Ernest Dublin Green, Bonny
The first Chief Architect Eastern Nigeria was Chief AG Spiff, who was killed on the sea in the 90s in one of the Kalabari/Nembe crisis. As at the time of all these appointments no igbo man was qualified. How come they did not dominate the east? Nd’igbo took education seriously from 1930, invested in education and are reaping the benefits. The successes achieved by Nd’Igbo upto to this moment are based on individual efforts and off course the fact that we believe in Mentorship. In the 50s, very few lawyers could compete with the Douglas family of Abonema, who were later joined by Onitsha lawyers. The Ibibio tribe had a strong Ibibio Union in Aba, and they invested in education, awarding scholarships to their brilliant children.
As a matter of fact, Ibibio had a strong political presence in Aba, their young professionals practiced in Aba. You can look up Udo Udoma’s write up. That was why in Former South Eastern State, the Ibibios occupied more positions than the Efik who made contact with Europeans earlier. Till today, the Ibibios maintain that lead in that region.
I don’t want to delve into the issues on houses, naming of streets ACB loans etc, but l know that uptil today you still have streets named after minorities-none Igbos in Enugu, and other Igbo states. So at what point did the Igbo domination/marginalization start. Let us look at issues properly. Passing unsubstantiated history to generations make people grow with animosity, which would not make for competitive challenge. 50 years has passed since the war ended. By now we would have known how fair/unfair we have been to each other. That is why l keep saying until we sit down and talk, open our minds take blames and responsibilities, as well as atonement where necessary we will all be treated with disdain in Nigeria.
The north and even Obasanjo had always said they liberated Niger Delta from Nd’igbo. Average Hausa man will say “Dukan su Nyamiri ne-“All of you are “Nyamiri”. When brothers fight, and kill themselves, an outsider benefits from what they leave behind. When a woman marries two husbands she will be in a position to know which is better. The world over is competitive. No tribe/group is more intelligent. Every individual/group strives to survive and over come the disadvantages nature has placed in their environment. Nd’igbo may look aggressive in their quest for survival, but are not ruthless. Nd’igbo believe in “live and let’s live”.
Until we unite and challenge our common adversaries, we will go down, one by one and finally all of us will be conquered.
ONCE AGAIN HAPPY 163 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY THAT BROUGHT EDUCATION TO IGBO LAND.