BreakingNews 14/4/15 - Why Are Igbos Falling Behind In Nigeria?

[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. James C. Agazie reports ] - My former student and I had a heated discussion over  "Why are we Igbos falling behind in Nigeria?" Dr. O and I are Igbos of Anambra origin and have had the knack of bantering over the progress of our people. This time, Dr. O disputed every argument I presented since he believes Igbos in Nigeria  and abroad are faring rather poorly in every aspect of human endeavor.

 

ME:  "What of Igbo progress in education?

 

DR. O: "No, Igbos are making no strides. In fact, they are regressing educationally".

 

ME: "Don't Igbos have  money?"

 

DR. O: "Not at all. Their money is useless without doing anything for their community. They build castles in Northern Nigeria and then are chased away while their home states remain largely undeveloped."

 

"What else?" I asked  in desperation.

 

Dr. O:  "Nothing else, Doc, You see, Igbos may end up being the underclass in Nigeria as they are hated by all the other tribes ".

 

He went on to discuss the exploding numbers of non-Igbo (Yoruba and Hausa) physicians, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, bankers, politicians, billionaires, and manufacturers scattered in Nigeria all over the world.  Throwing my hands up in desperation, I asked my assailant: "Do you know that without Ndiigbo pioneers, Nigeria would not be where we now are educationally?"   I repeated the question much to Dr. O's amusement.  He thought I should know better than that.   I am tempted to concluded  that Ndigbo are falling behind because they are not interested in helping  others and  all this is happening  while Igbos are neglecting some important personality issues that might be stunting their progress. That happens when Igbos  are so busy chasing after "toro na afu" (pennies), just as the old proverb used to say "penny wise pound foolish".

 

Many Igbo professors  I  have known to be working at various American institutions of higher education have recently been dismissed before attaining  tenured positions of full professorships. But there are scores  of Yoruba Deans, Vice presidents, Vice Chancellors, and Provosts. I called two Yoruba men I know, a Vice President on the east coast and  Associate Vice Chancellor at a large community college system on the west  coast to ask "What are you doing right that the Igbos are doing wrong?" More Yoruba professors and professionals in the USA appear to be quieter, less troublesome, and get along better with spouses, colleagues, and the Americans in general. Some  Igbo professionals appear to be louder, more quarrelsome and argumentative, more ostentatious, self- aggrandizing,  and showy when displaying material stuffs like vehicles and houses. One Igbo Department Chairman had the habit of arguing  with his university President at staff meetings until he was replaced with another  mathematician. One Igbo physician had the engine of his Rolls-Royce running on display outside his office while attending to his patients.  This doctor was more interested in acquiring best automobiles than in providing best patient care. He had to quit his practice in America and move to Nigeria when old patients moved away and new ones  weren't forthcoming.

 

On US college campuses, Nigerian professors tend to look down on students, comparing them to Nigerian students they had taught much to the annoyance of faculty and staff. Though Nigerian  professors are considered to be very intelligent, the Igbos  tend to be held to lower esteem than the non-Igbos due to personality issues, including infighting. I saw this happen to three Igbo young men who obtained their PhD's from the same university in the same discipline and taught at the same university. They were from Enugu, Imo, and Anambra States and got on well in graduate for four years, often entertaining white faculty at their Nigerian parties to which they invited their white professors and other Nigerians. Trouble started after the Imo man graduated first and was hired as Department Chairman of a State school, and he hired the other two as Assistant Professors. The first two years of working together were fine until hell broke loose in the third year. The chairman turned autocratic, becoming openly confrontational, and being accused of bearing tales to the Dean to engineer dissent among the Department employees and have his friends fired. "Watch out," he told the Americans, "these Africans may take over the Department."  He was right because the Nigerians were plotting to hire other  Nigerian professors to  form the majority and gain promotions and tenures through each other's recommendations  A bitter war ensued, culminating in the Chairman's inability to function and eventual resignation.  When I tried to mediate since I knew all three of these Igbo men,  the Anambra man warned me to  keep out. What happened was the Enugu professor relocated to Florida after former Chairman from Imo escaped to a quieter Texas city, leaving the lone Anambra professor to figure out the cause of bickering. I told him he was the fool and chief instigator of palaver.

 

Incidentally, I  am tempted to initiate a blithering indictment of NdiIgbo and their leadership at home and abroad as cause of why Igbos are falling behind . Igbos do not get along in any organization. Bitter infightings are the order of the day. Petty jealousies, love of money and obsession with chieftaincy titles add up to render Ndigbo further disunited. We condemn the Igbo governors for failure to take care of the rest of us at the difficult times in our history as the Yorubas and Hausas have done for their people. We denounce Igbo parents and elders for over-emphasizing the pursuit of money over and above respect, education, and igwebuike (community unity) as instruments for Igbo nation-building.  We accuse Igbo religious leadership of its unfaithfulness in abandoning their calling and prostituting  (being akwunakwuna) after prosperity. We condemn Ndigbo in general for their excessive pursuit of "ebe  onye si bia" (where one comes from). Ndiigbo have excessive clannishness   (Abiasm, Enuguism, Imoisn, Anambraism, Ebonyism). We fault Igbo people in general for their abandonment of technical education that generates employment, and we condemn Igbos for their fixating on excessive use of defeat in Biafran War as unwarranted excuse for developing the inability to form relationships across tribal boundaries and for being lazy and remaining in deep stupor, trance, coma, daze, state of unconsciousness.

 

Having said this, why are Ndiigbo falling behind In Nigeria and in the United States? Are the Igbos discouraged in their circumstances? Are they brow-beaten as a result of losing the Biafran War? What is the cause of their feelings of being trapped, downtrodden, subjugated, broken, oppressed, demoralized, or exploited?  Can we trace the demoralization of Ndiigbo to post traumatic syndrome (PTS) suffered from defeat, or atrocities of Biafran War?   It is safe to believe the Igbos didn't suffer a defeat in war; they simply gained the opportunity to regroup, rethink,  re-strategize, and return stronger and more resilient. Igbos have always bounced back. There is nothing shameful about falling down from time to time; but it is discreditable to remain on the ground after a fall. Isn't what seems to keep us Igbos down for 44 years since the Biafran War ended is that we are not united? Are we Igbos less likely to lift both ourselves and each other up after a fall? Are we carrying unnecessary baggages consisting of guilt, "mmegbu" (oppression);  "anya ufu" (jealousy), "anya ukwu" (greed), and "obi –ojoo" (bitterness)?Let's look at some of our glaring problems.

 

In education, fewer Igbo children and adults are going to schools than they once did, than the Yorubas. More Igbos are interested in making money and dreaming of becoming billionaire Dangote  or politician President Goodluck  than they are in acquiring education for the love of it. More Yorubas  are acquiring higher education to the PhD level than the Igbos. There are fewer Igbos in SEM (science, engineering, and mathematics) and technology (plumbing, air conditioning, airplane mechanic, etc) than there are in the other Nigerian tribes. In employment, more Igbos are unemployed and unemployable than the other tribes because Igbo employers are quite unwilling to employ other Igbos, and when they do employ, their Igbo employees would be robbing the business owner or doing their own businesses within the master's business.

 

Do the Igbos get along? No. Igbo States are more likely to be hot-beds (or boiling pots)of dissent, with strings of Ngiges, Ubas, and Rochas, Chimes vying for power in the midst of "esem okwu" (troubles). If you are Igbo Nigerian running for dear life from boko-controlled North, you are more likely to be denied employment in Igboland and asked to go to your state of origin than if you ran to Yorubaland. You are more likely to be robbed, kidnapped, or even killed if you venture into Igbo majority places than if you seek refuge  in Igbo minority areas. If you were  one of the 72 destitute Igbos in Lagos that Governor babbatunde Fashola deported to Onitsha bridge, other Igbos would most likely ignore  you and not come to your aid, or yo

 
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