Going back time immemorial, when Nigeria became independent from the British Colonial masters. Ndi Igbo were mostly spread across the while country. In fact Nigeria was so united back then that most prominent Igbo people were born outside the shores of Igboland.
- Dora Akunyili of blessed memory was born in Makurdi, Benue Stats (Northern Nigeria).
- Orji Uzor Kalu attended school in Kaduna and Borno States (Northern Nigeria).
- Late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born in Niger State (Northern Nigeria) and started his education in Lagos (Western Nigeria).
- Alex Ekweume (first elected Vice President of Nigeria) schooled in Lagos (Western Nigeria).
- Rochas Okorocha (Present Governor of Imo State) schooled in Jos (Northern Nigeria).
- Late Nnamdi Azikwe (first President of Nigeria) was born in Niger State (Northern Nigeria).
I could go on and on but the message is clear. Igbos started off well spread across the looks and cranny of Nigeria. They were and still are very adventurous, hardworking and business minded individuals. Igbos were rich and very influential within the business and political sphere in Nigeria with Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu one of the richest men in Nigeria back then.
Igbos held power in various positions with the first President of Nigeria (Nnamdi Azikwe) an Igbo man.
Many Igbos were in the Northern regions of Nigeria mostly for business and enjoyed an amicable relationship with the accommodating Northerners.
Igbos built houses and owned properties mostly outside their hometown in Lagos and even in the North with many marrying from their adopted lands.
Igbos had the respect and revenence of Nigerians for their up-and-do attitude, resourcefulness, tenacity to succeed no matter the odds and undiluted love for money.
Igbos had it good but then something happened.
Something happened that made Igbo people a scorn even among their fellow Nigerians. Something happened that makes Yoruba parents very apprehensive when an Igbo man comes for their daughter’s hand in marriage today. Something happens that makes an Hausa man extra careful when doing business with an Igbo man.
That ‘something’ that happened is called the Biafra war.
So as not to bore you with so much information, I will be very brief in this regard. Ten steps to understanding what led to the Biafra war and Nigeria’s enmity towards Ndi Igbo.
1. The first coup d’etat was conspired by an Igbo man (Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna) and led by another Igbo man called Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu in January 1966.
2. That first coup led to the assassination of 11 politicias including two prominent Northern leaders; Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Premier of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello.
3. The coup was however not successful which led to the taking over of the Government by Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (an Igbo man).
4. The Igbo man who took over however failed to meet Northern demand for the prosecution of the coup plotters who were mostly of Igbo origin. Some of the coup plotters were maintained in the military on full pay.
5. The coup, despite its failure and since no repercussion was meted out to the coup plotters was seen as an Igbo coup. Mostly because a majority of the coup plotters were Igbo and Northern and Western politicians were killed with no significant Igbo political leader affected.
5. The Northerners were berieved and plotted a counter coup led by General Murtala Muhammed overthrew and killed General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (the Igbo man).
Do you get the drift?
Igbo men killed Northerners. Northerners avenged and killed Igbo men. Let’s continue….
6. After Gowon was installed as Head of State, Igbos were slaughtered in their thousands in the North by Hausa-Fulani soldiers and civilians who sought revenge for the earliar aforementioned coup.
7. This resulted in the forced Exodus of millions of Igbos to the Eastern Region.
8. This pogrom (meaning an organised massacre of a particular ethic group) was the precursor to Ojuwku’s Declaration of Eastern Nigeria’s secession from the federation as the Republic of Biafra and resulted in the Nigerian Civil War.
9. The Civil War lasted almost 3 years with millions of Igbos killed, mostly dieing from starvation.
10. After the war, houses, properties and businesses owned by Igbos in the West and North were auctioned off and never returned to them. £20 was given to any Igbo person with money in the bank, no matter how much they had in the bank. Igbos had to start from scratch.
Many years after the war, Igbos have dusted themselves up, started afresh and have come a very long way.
One thing has changed from the olden days, Igbos are now smarter. They have learnt to build at home before you build elsewhere.
It’s only an Igbo man that would live in a rented apartment in Lagos but have a mansion in the village.
It’s only an Igbo man that would live as a tenant in Abuja but build houses in the village.
Times have changed but the Exodus of Igbo people from wherever they are to their villages during Christmas and New Year celebrations could be linked to their desire to know, see and experience their roots because at least their homeland can never be taken away from them. No matter what.
Reference From Wikipedia: