The Igbo ethnic group of Nigeria, referred to as “Ndigbo,” are likened to the Jews. Ndigbo are known for one thing and that is the uncommon knack for business and industry. This well known voracious quest for success and wealth exhibited by most Ndigbos came under severe attack Tuesday, by the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Rev. Professor Godfrey Igwebuike Onah.
The priest drove his point home while delivering the 33rd Public Lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), titled “Intellectualism and the Development of a People.” According to him, the toll Igbo people have paid in values for this, has been enormous, adding that money and what money can buy seem to be all that Ndigbo care about.
“Even our proverbial egalitarianism and republicanism seem to have disappeared as the super rich became the owners of the community and their praise singers remind those who were in doubt that the community or town, indeed belonged to some people”, Professor Onah lamented.
Tracing how the Igbos degenerated to the present level, the Bishop said that before the Nigeria-Biafra war, the intellectual was the pride of the Igboman, pointing out that it was a pride to be referred to a doctor’s mother or father.
“Then came the war, the blockade, the starvation, the surrender, the humiliation and the economic emasculation. Despite the beautiful slogan of no victor, no vanquished, there was and still is, a clear plan to crush the presumably rebellious Igbo spirit and, thus, shatter the myth of the resilient Igboman,” Onah said.
The Catholic cleric went down memory lane reminiscing about the end of the war and how the foremost battle of Ndigbo was for survival in a Nigeria that neither wanted them in its fold nor would it let them go and build a nation on their own.
“Having been stripped to the bare skin of all the material wealth they had acquired before the war by the post war Nigerian government.”
According to the Prof. Onah, a careful scrutiny of the way most political office holders were selected in Igboland and what they do with the common patrimony when they are in office, will confirm that Ndigbo have collectively sold their birthrights to those who have the hard currency to spray.
“Before long, the ‘only money counts attitude’ found its way into the precincts of the churches and, through harvests, bazaars and the unending fund raising programmes for the innumerable church projects, it gradually moved into the sanctuary,” Onah said.
The Bishop also reasoned that from the sanctuaries, the money virus exploded like a petrol tank on fire, spilling it’s content into massive open air rallies, crusades and fanfares of the miracle industries and mega markets, where the insecure wealthy class, the distressed youths and miserable victims of the reckless pillage of our national wealth by an unscrupulous political class collectively fund the extravagance of some self appointed redeemers.
Rev. Onah’s boldness to speak out his mind on such controversial issue as the greediness of the Ndigbo, is quite unexpected considering the fact that he is also a member of the tribe he spites with his words. However, this step is recommendable as he will soon be trading on the same truth-speaking path with Reverend Mbaka.