By Nwafor Somtochukwu Aloysius
For Family Writers Press
The Federal Government actions after the Civil War could be seen not as a reconciliatory but as an outright hostility. It is even an understatement to say that Igbos were stigmatized after the Civil War.
Awolowo as the Federal Commissioner for Finance has been much maligned by many as an intellectual for the Federal Government unfortunate policies, not only that he did not question or represent such obnoxious policies but advanced them.
Other hardliners with Awolowo like Allison Ayida and Anthony Enahoro in the Federal Government of Nigeria cast Igbos in the role of treasonable felons and wreckers of the nation and got the regime to adopt a banking policy which nullified any bank account which had been operated during the War by Biafrans. A paltry sum of €20 (twenty pounds) was approved for each Igbo depositor of the Nigerian currency regardless of the amount deposited. The property of the Igbos across Nigeria especially outside Igbo land were declared abandoned property and were all taken over by the indigenes within the territories. So Igbos were totally left with absolute nothing in Nigeria after the Civil War. Igbos were declared rebels and not accepted or offered job opportunities in companies across Nigeria. This was a measure put in place to stunt or even obliterate, the economy of the Igbos.
As if the above outrageous charade was not enough to checkmate the ubiquitous Igbos and make them stervile, the leaders of the Federal Military Government sought to devastate the resilient and emerging Eastern Commercial sector even further by banning the importation of second-hand clothing (aka Bend-down Boutique or Okrika) and stockfish. Two traded items that they knew the burgeoning market towns of Aba, Onitcha and Nnewi needed to re-emerge.
The fear of Federal Military Government was that these communities, if fully reconstructed, would serve as the economic engines for the reconstruction of the entire Eastern Region. Obafemi Awolowo was one of the formulators of such draconian policy.
The Enterprises Promotion Decree of 1974 also known as Indigenization Decree was obviously pushed through by the leaders of the FGN in order to force foreign holders of majority shares of companies operating in Nigeria to hand over the preponderance of stocks, bonds and shares to local Nigerian business interest. The move was sold to the public as some sort of "pro-African libration strategy" to empower Nigerian businesses and shareholders, especially the Yorubas. The wanton chicanery of the entire scheme was quite obvious.
Having financially emasculated the Igbos, the leaders of Federal Government of Nigeria knew that the former Biafrans by and large, would not have the financial wherewithal to participate in this plot.
The end result they believed would be a permanent paradigm shift of the balance of economic power away from the East to other constituencies.
Consequently, very few Igbos participated and many of the jobs and positions in most of the sectors of the economy previously occupied by the Easterners went to those from other parts of the country. The heat goes on!!
Thanks for Awolowo's master plan in concert with the FGN to economically cripple the East, but to their utmost chagrin, there is no stopping the resilient, indomitable and "never-say-die" Eastern business men and women.
Forty years after the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War, Aba, Onitcha and Nnewi (to the consternation of the Yorubas and HausaFulani) have achieved such a continental importance in Africa that people from other nation frequent them to transact business with the traders or manufacturers therein.
Cameroonians, Gabonese, Togolese, Central African Republic, Benenoirs and Ghanaians all come to Nkwo Nnewi for spare-parts, Aba and Onitcha for all sorts of materials and goods.
"You can fool some people for some time, but you cannot fool all the people, all the time. Now we have seen the light, we gonna stand up for our rights!" Sang the Jamaican reggae maestro, Robert Nester Marley of the blessed memory.
Today, with twenty pounds given to the Igbos after the War, they were able to build Nnewi to the richest city in Africa.
Nnewi is today housing numerous billionaires more than any other city in Africa. With just twenty pounds given to the Igbos after the War, they were today the owners of over 79% of the property in Nigeria. With twenty pounds of the Igbo's after the War, today they are the most educated and are also the economic pillars and backbone of Nigeria. It is still wonderfully amazing how the Igbos whom the Yorubas through Awolowo and their HausaFulani conspirators tried to cripple during and after the War are not just the greatest people in Nigeria but also standing tall in Africa and the world at large. It is obviously beyond fact that if you take Igbos out of Nigeria, then there will be no Nigeria. All glory and thanks to Chukwuokikeabiama the great God of the Igbos.
I rest my case!