Abia State is your example as to what happens when the will of the people prevails in the choice of public officers.
I am Igbo. Go to Onitsha. Go to Aba. Go to Alaba. Go to Kano and see wealthy men who brag with how many millionaires they had minted in the course of their lives more than how many millions they personally had. Millionaires who sold the same things o. Competing with their former masters, taking on more competitors who will create more competitors over and over.
Does it destroy the master? No! This is a mastery over greed that is not found elsewhere in the entire world. I am Igbo. And I am fckn proud of this!
My ancestors were the ones who, in 1803, walked into the Pacific rather than be slaves. That legendary spirit is mine to claim.
Every Igbo man has a personal spiritual second, Chi. My success is determined by how much I want it. Not by obstacles. Not by what people call impossible. Not by how rich or poor my father was. Not by avoiding danger. But by a simple agreement between me and my Chi.
“Onye kwe, Chi ya ekwe”. If you believe, your chi affirms.
I am Igbo, I was raised this way.
We create success and share it without begrudging our neighbours and our hosts. We will teach our host’s children our way of life if they would rise above their suspicions. We don’t mind a Yoruba or Hausa or Edo boy-boy. We only ask that the person be smart and dependable.
We are not particular about kings or queens. We don’t want to be your king. We don’t do very well with them. Before the whiteman we barely had any kings. A child who came of age had the right to speak in a village meeting when it was his turn. No one could stop them.
The community came together to build houses for each other. People who were struggling were supported and those who had lost children or had none were lent children for their farms.
When my ancestors saw that literacy was good, they contributed to send the village’s brightest to school. Even people whose own children were not intelligent happily contributed for other people’s children. You know why? We believed that a child belonged to everyone.
In those days we had leaders who were chosen purely on what they could do. Nothing was hereditary. Even the chief priest was chosen by the spirits from kindred to kindred, without a set pattern.
Basically, we don’t want to rule in your land. We want to build wealth.
Again we’re happy to share. We will build schools, hospitals, markets without a single prejudice. Everyone is welcome. And, no, we don’t only go to already-made cities. We particularly love to do virgin lands and make decent towns out of them.
I am sure there are many things for which you can be proud about your ancestors. I know a few, because I try to educate myself. I will celebrate them with you. Your art & culture – ancient & modern. The warrior spirit of your ancestors. Their industry. I celebrate them all.
I dare suggest that if other Nigerian ethnicities who prefer political power understood Igbos, they would rule forever and Igbos wouldn’t mind. Any Igbo will tell you: Provide a level playing field, promote law and order and Igbo’s will largely ignore politics.
Let me reiterate. We don’t do well with kings and queens. Respect is earned not inherited. That’s how we see it. We only hate injustice with a terrible passion. How do you think the boy-boy system is sustained? If you don’t “settle” your boy, or skimp on how much, nobody will beat you, but you won’t be able to live down the shame. You will forever be known as the riffraff that doesn’t “settle” his boys. Just like that, your respect is gone. When a child who has “washed” his hands is chosen over you, your pariah status is sealed.
You may resist and ask, “What about Igbo governors? How come they do Ndị Igbo dirty and get away with it?”
The answer is simple. No one chose them. They’re imposed with guns every election cycle. They are vassals of Abuja.
Abia State is your example as to what happens when our will prevails in the choice of public office.
Conduct a Free and fair elections and none of these clowns will smell that seat. If not for the guns, even a small child will walk up to them and tell them that they’re full of sh*t.
Ideally everyone can speak. From the drunk to the village mad man. You’re allowed to laugh at their craze but you’re not allowed to silence them.
Are you his chi? They commune with the spirits. So once in a while they say things that save the community.
But a Peter Obi can live in Onitsha and walk into the market with little or no escort. Why?
He embodies the best of us. His attitude is what our forebears built over thousands of years. Industry without excessive greed. A peaceful man with grit and a truckload of bravery. Someone who pursues justice for all and uses public money for public good.
I am Igbo and I am happy to emulate the best of you. If it is a thing of value we will adopt it and we expect that as we are willing to share, you will extend us the same hand. But even if you decided not to teach us, we only need to see it to learn.
I know this is what gives you pulse and whip up fears that we want to take over. Let me assure you that we wish to build a bigger market to accommodate all of us. Please let us try it our way. Our competition is not winner takes all. We share. We enrich. We make better.
I am Igbo, my mantra is “Oje mba enwe ilo”. The traveler doesn’t make enemies.
I expect that you will not understand me. But I believe that this is not your burden. So I learn your ways. Teach my children your language. Learn your customs and obey your laws.
I have my flaws but that does not include expansionist quest to control you and rule over your land. Foreigners who want to rule over you have demonstrated it over the past century.
Stop trying to crush my spirit. You will fail. My spirit is my gift to Nigeria and to all my hosts elsewhere. It is rare in all the earth. I don’t know how NOT to compete. I can’t accept to be less than. I can’t be enslaved.
Because I am Igbo and all I have to do is to believe and my Chi will affirm.