Igbonomics in Northern Nigeria - By Ahmadu Shehu- Igbo people are NOT marginalised, they are playing a victim card to maintain economic dominance as status quo
Some commentators say that the article was biased as I only focused on the disadvantages and neglected the â€œobviousâ€ advantages the Igbo will gain from Biafra. However, I do not see a single demographic, economic, geographical, or even political advantage the Igbo will gain by simply seceding from Nigeria. That is the thesis of the previous article. In fact, the post-exile writings of Odumegwu Ojukwu, the architect of Biafra himself, buttress this point.
The most critical observations from many prominent Igbo elites and friends claim that as much as the Igbo people enjoy Nigeriaâ€™s unity from both economic and political perspectives, we should equally be thankful to the southeasterners for the jobs they create for other Nigerians.
Well, this claim might seem valid at face value. Still, it may not be entirely accurate when Igbonomics â€“ a term I use here to refer to the economic strategy of the Igbo people â€“ is subjected to a critical view.
In the said article, I noted that one of the weaknesses of the southeastern economic model is that it is closed to other Nigerians. The resentment the Igbo folks have against the majority of Nigerians does not allow â€œstrangersâ€ from any region of the country to freely establish or run businesses in Igboland. That is why most Igbo billionaires today were made one hundred percent in and by other regions of this country, but not the other way round. There is hardly a non-Igbo billionaire made by or in the southeast.
This approach is based on three exclusionist strategies of Igbonomics.
First, the market and product, and indeed the value-chain must strictly remain an Igbo affair.
Second, other regionsâ€™ markets, their products, and value-chains must be proportionately shared with the Igbos.
Third, to drift public attention from this ongoing reality, maintain the victim card by crying louder than the bereaved â€“ the real victims of marginalization.
The Igbo form the largest group of Nigerians in the diaspora. Since Nigeria is an import economy, the Igbo people in diaspora serve as business agents for their brethren in Nigeria. Therefore, the import business is basically an Igbo â€“ Igbo transaction.
Here in Nigeria, these goods are transported mainly to the southeastern markets, such as Aba and Onitsha. Instead of Lagos or Port Harcourt, most Igbo traders, who are widely dispersed across the nooks and crannies of this country, buy their goods mostly from Igbo distributors in the southeast. Another Igbo â€“ Igbo transaction.
For instance, you find a single Igbo shop owner in a village. By the following year, s/he has brought two, three, or four Igbo artisans, thereby growing in population, manipulating the resources, and seizing the business opportunities further away from the local people.
In most cases, the deal is that a separate business in the same line is established for the younger artisan, expanding further the grip of the Igbos in that line of business in the communities they are domiciled. Thus, the profits, gains, and resources of the business in any of these communities become an Igbo affair entirely.
Therefore, in this arrangement, the Igbo create jobs primarily for themselves while other sections of Nigeria serve as their consumers.
Moreover, I had said earlier that businesses domiciled in the southeast largely depend on the larger Nigerian market to thrive.
Therefore, it should be clear from the foregoing that Igbonomics in the north is an Igbo economic affair that largely â€“ if not only â€“ benefits the Igbos.
Dr. Ahmadu Shehu is a nomad cum herdsman, an Assistant Professor at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, and is passionate about the Nigerian project. You can reach him via email@example.com.