IGBOPHOBIA EXISTS | The Igbo Hate Is Real

“Nigerians will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo,” – Chinua Achebe

Nigeria has an “Igbo problem” and whether we choose to admit this or not, it exists. It is becoming a culture as it is being transferred from one generation to another generation. Ask some people why they don’t like Igbos and they will be surprised to realize that they don’t even know.

Igbo-hate is so distinguished that it made its way into the pages of the prestigious Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Very prominent that Adeyinka Shoyemi also known as Grandson got indicted over his hate speeches against the Igbos by the UK authorities and is currently serving jail terms.

We see Igbophobia on the pages of the newspaper and TV stations every day. In 2015, Oba of Lagos warned Igbos that they would be thrown into the Lagoon if they do not vote for Ambode, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress.

Shetimma, the Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress went on national TV to say that Peter Obi can’t win Nigeria’s Presidency simply because he is Igbo. Ask some politicians of other ethnic groups why an Igbo man can’t lead Nigeria and they’d tell you that it’s not time for the Igbos. The hate against Igbos is mutually shared across both the other major ethnic groups and the minorities.

Why are the Igbos hated so much that anytime they demand what is due to them they are mocked with statements like “they should go to their Biafra”? It sounds as though the Igbos were the first to demand self-determination. It is as though Igbos are being perpetually punished for demanding their right to self-determination.

Remember, Biafra didn’t take up arms against Nigeria, Nigeria took up arms against Biafra, a shortlived Nation that had other ethnic groups too. Today, these other ethnic groups have also been brainwashed with propaganda to see the Igbophobia as a collective responsibility. Sometimes it seems as though how to be a patriotic Nigerian is to hate Igbos.

The discussion around Biafra has been made to become an Igbo thing and even other ethnic groups that made up Biafra are buying into it. Biafra had other ethnic groups like the Ijaw, the Ibibios, the Efik and so many others.

Even if we want to buy into the lies that Biafra took up arms against Nigeria which is the other way round, let’s go back the memory lane.

Major Isaac Adaka Boro took up arms against the Federal Government. He declared the Niger Delta Republic which lasted for 12 days in the 1960s. In the North, Islamist terrorists have been in a long war against Nigeria in a bid to establish an Islamic State in the North. You can’t even compare what Boko Haram is doing in any way to Biafra. It will be demonic, wicked, a d ignorant to do so. To compare Biafra agitators with Boko Haram is a shortcut to becoming the devil because he is the father of all lies.

There has been a consistent agitation for the Yoruba Nation in the South West currently led by Ilana Omo Oodua, and Professor Banji Akintoye. But nobody is blackmailing the entire Yoruba race for it, nobody is saying that a Yoruba man can’t be President. Why is it so different for the Igbo man?

Several months back, we saw a Roman Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. James Anelu from Edo State verbally attacking the Igbo parishioners. What was his reason? That Igbo songs are being sung in his parish! This is a parish made up of a majority Igbos. Igbos priests make up the largest percentage of the Roman Catholic priesthood in the entire Africa. According to Catholic & Culture, the Enugu Diocesan Seminary is the largest Roman Catholic Seminary in the world.

We also saw a deputy commissioner of Police from Adamawa State threatening the life of Vincent Umeh, an Igbo man. What was the problem? Vincent bought a property next to his residence in Yola and he had sworn never to have an Igbo man live close to him.

Igbos are hated and criticised even by people who claim that they don’t hate the Igbos. These same people will mock the Igbos for doing what every other ethnic group has done. An Igbo would be termed tribalistic for standing by their candidate while people of other tribes will be said to be protecting their legitimate interest with the excuse that it is a game of numbers.

If the Igbos throw their weight behind someone else against an Igbo candidate, it will be said that Igbos hate themselves while it will be termed “strategic” for the other ethnic groups when they do the same thing. There has never been anything the Igbo people would do that the other folks will not criticize. Yes, they would claim that they don’t hate the Igbos but we know that they do.

I hate that this is coming from me as many would perceive it as a “victim mentality” but most Nigerians are indeed united in their resentment against the Igbos. This is why the agitation for Biafra has continued even after more than five decades after the Nigerian war against Biafra that saw millions of lives lost.

The Igbo hate started with the colonialists who hated the Igbos’ aggression against colonialism and slavery. It was the colonialists who began the propagation of hatred against the Igbos. This propelled Nnamdi Azikiwe to say on June 25, 1949

“The Igbo people have reached a crossroads and it is for us to decide which is the right course to follow. We are confronted with routes leading to diverse goals, but, as I see it, there is only one road that I can safely recommend for us to tread, and it is the road to self-determination for the Igbo within the framework of a federated commonwealth of Nigeria and the Cameroons, leading to the United States of Africa. Other roads, in my opinion, are calculated to lead us from the path of national self-realization.”

Chinua Achebe links the hatred against Igbos to their success and he says “Its success can and did carry deadly penalties: the dangers of hubris, overweening pride and thoughtlessness, which invite envy and hatred or, even worse, that can obsess the mind with material success and dispose it to all kinds of crude showiness. There is no doubt at all that there is a strand in contemporary Igbo behaviour that can offend by its noisy exhibitionism and disregard for humility and quietness.”

Chinua Achebe writes “Nigerians will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo,” He traced the genesis of this resentment to the Igbo culture that “gave the Igbo man an unquestioned advantage over his compatriots in securing credentials for advancement in Nigerian colonial society.”

Achebe also asserts that “Nigeria’s pathetic attempt to crush these idiosyncrasies rather than celebrate them is one of the fundamental reasons the country has not developed as it should and has emerged as a laughingstock”.

One thing the Igbos (at least those who believe that they are Igbos) need to do at the moment is to stop fighting hard to appease anyone but rather focus on continuously getting better. We did it after the war, we rebuilt our cities, and we collectively contributed money to build Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri! It was the first Airport built by a community in Africa instead of the Government.

The Igbos should collectively build other infrastructures across the Igbo regions including the South-South. The Igbos should show that we do not need the Presidency of Nigeria to be who God has made us be. This still doesn’t mean that we’ll be reluctant towards exercising our rights to vote and be voted for.

The Igbos are hated so much that a zoning agreement which has favoured all other zones was immediately scrapped the moment it got to the turn of the South-East. It seems as though there is a deliberate agenda to suppress the Igbos perpetually and yet deny them their right to self-determination.

Today, Igbos supporting an Igbo presidential candidate have to try hard to convince people that they are not tribalists but Northerners are supporting Northern candidates merely because the candidate is from the North and no one has called them bigots. When certain Yoruba claim that they will only support someone who speaks their language, it doesn’t shake the internet but the moment Igbos support an Igbo candidate, they try blackmailing Igbos emotionally with rhetorics like “that one is IPOB President”.

Yorubas are supporting a Yoruba candidate simply because he is Yoruba and no one has called them bigots. We all know that the North usually vote for a Northerner period. But the Igbos are always called out for supporting an Igbo candidate.

Igbos are called Nigerians when they do great things in the diaspora but they are called Igbos when it’s bad news. Even if a criminal from Agbor who claims not to be Igbo commits a crime outside Nigeria, the headline would read “An Igbo Man on the run in the UK for murder”. That is how much Igbos are hated. But when it’s a Northerner or Yoruba, you’d see headlines read “A Nigerian on the run in the UK for murder”. When such a character is coming from the Igbo heartlands of the South-East, they wouldn’t only mention their ethnic group, they’d also mention their names and the exact place they are coming from.

Kaduna Nzeogwu, from the old Bendel region, engineered a coup and to date, the same people who claim that the part where he came from isn’t Igbo call it an ” Igbo coup”. These are the same people who will argue that Western Igbos aren’t Igbos. They are the ones sowing seeds of division among the Igbos.

When an Igbo man decides to contest for what everyone else is contesting, people bring up issues like insecurity in the South-East when we all know that the insecurity in the South East is like the drop of water in an Ocean while the insecurity in the North is the Ocean and yet no one judges Northern candidates based on the insecurity in the North.

The Igbos have done great work to be where they are, whatever we’ve done to get there, we need to do more of it! Even Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party who is from Adamawa, in Northern Nigeria said concerning the Igbos in 2017

“We fought the civil war with the Igbo. Today, the Igbo have been completely rebuilt, but we still find mud houses in the north. Is it the fault of the easterners that the north is like that?”

Many people are scared of what the Igbos would become and that is why they are using every means to try stifling Igbos. Many are also resenting the Igbos because of jealousy.

There are some Igbo speakers from the South-South extraction who believes that they aren’t Igbos, a denial that started during and after the civil war. Those resenting the Igbos seem to find allies in these subgroups. As long as you’ve got something against Igbos, they find friendship in you.

The Igbos should stop trying to convince these people for any reason. If they say that they are not Igbos, then so be it. After all, people do reject their families, change names and move on. The Igbos need to move on and of course, also carry along the people outside South East who identifies as Igbos along.

No other tribe has shown commitment to the Nigerian project like the Igbos. The Igbos believe in developing any region they find themselves in, they don’t only rent shops, they build infrastructures, schools, hospitals and houses anywhere they find themselves. Whether it’s in Nigeria or outside Nigeria, the Igbos put tangible commitments. That is why no matter what happens, the Igbos remain the true representation of patriotism in Nigeria.

When one begins to meditate over this resentment against the Igbos, it leads to depression and believe me, many Igbos have been forced into depression. That is why we need to stop dwelling on what no longer matter and focus on building our home and making it the envy of nations.

Igbos are great people, and we need no validation from anybody on this.

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