PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigeria’s 31m Igbos to abandon the idea of leaving Nigeria as they are absolutely fundamental to the growth of the nation’s economy and the country’s future prospects.
Nigeria’s third largest ethnic group, the Igbos are by far Africa’s mist industrious people, dominating retail trade across the entire continent. Nicknamed the Jews of Africa, the Igbos, have, as expected been on the receiving end of a lot of harsh treatment historically, especially in Nigeria where there suffered pogroms in 1966, leading to the civil war.
Across the rest of the continent, Igbos have been attacked by local residents envious of their commercial success and punitive laws have been introduced to tax them heavily, as was recently the case in Ghana. In Nigeria, they have suffered from the added headache of being marginalised when it comes to federal appointments since President Buhari assumed office in 2015.
Himself an officer in the Nigerian Army during the civil war, President Buhari has been accused of marginalising Ndigbo since he assumed office in 2015. This has spurred the growth of separatist groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), who are agitating for the recreation of an independent nation state for Nigeria’s Igbos.
In a bid to ease the tension, President Buhari travelled to Imo State yesterday, in what was his first visit to Igboland since being re-elected in 2019. While there, he held a town hall meeting with Igbo leaders in Owerri, the Imo State capital, where he told them it would be unthinkable for Ndigbo to leave Nigeria.
President Buhari said: “The fundamental thing about the Igbo people is that there is no town you will visit in Nigeria without seeing the Igbos being in charge of either infrastructure or the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, it is unthinkable for me that any Igbo man would consider himself not to be a part of Nigeria, as the evidence is there for everyone to see that Igbos are in charge of Nigeria’s economy.”
He used to occasion to assure Ndigbo that they stand to benefit more from his administration as there are ongoing infrastructural developments taking place across the southeast region. Among such projects are the second River Niger Bridge, the main artery linking the southeast with the rest of Nigeria.