By Azuka Onwuka
There are some claims someone would make, and you should use a trend to know that the claims are spurious.
The intent of the post was to create the narrative that Igbos from outside Rivers State used the unfair advantage of their kinsmen being in charge of NCNC and African Continental Bank to illegally grab the land of the indigenes. That is a lame argument.
Kindly look at these simple examples and make your conclusions:
- By the year 2000 (less than 30 years after the Abandoned Property saga), the same Igbos from the Southeast had become majority owners of property in Port Harcourt. Please which Igbo bank in PH gave them the favouritism of loans and which politicians gave them the unfair advantage?
- When Nasir el-Rufai was Minister of Abuja during Obasanjo’s presidency (before 2007), he said that Igbos owned about 70% of the property in Abuja (even though such property was not originally allocated to them). Please which bank or Igbo minister of the FCT gave them the unfair advantage? Did Igbos colonize Abuja? Or has there been any Igbo president since Abuja was created who unduly allocated Abuja property to them?
- Lagos is not in the Eastern Region. But Amuwo-Odofin, Festac, Ago Palace Way, Olodi Apapa, Ajegunle, Ojo, Satellite Town, Trade Fair Complex, Alaba area is dominated by the Igbos in property ownership. They also have much property in Surulere, Aguda, Oshodi, Yaba, Orile, Olodi, Akoka, Ire-Akari, Ikeja, Ikoyi, Lekki, etc. Did any bank or Igbo governor or party give them some unfair advantage to have property in these areas? Did they colonize Lagos?
While the Whites were in charge of PH, people lived in PH. Nobody grabbed any person’s land. It was not a lawless society. The British had courts to try lawless people. The Igbos of Southeast did not suddenly grab PH lands from the indigenes between 1960 and 1967. PH was not the only place the British left after colonialism. People from other parts of Eastern Nigeria and other places also bought lands the same time in Enugu, Owerri, Aba, Onitsha, Calabar, etc. Nobody accused another of grabbing any land, and there was no abandoned property issue in those places after the War.
See the attached photo of the house Nnewi Patriotic Association founded in 1931 built in faraway Aba around that time too. They did not grab the land. They raised money to buy the land and build the house.
Every ethnic group has its strengths and weaknesses. There are things Igbos do better than others in Nigeria. That thing is buying property wherever they reside. They never steal anybody’s property. They exchange money for landed property. It is a huge risk in an unstable country like Nigeria where ethnic tensions and rivalries are ever present. But they take the risk more than any other ethnic group does. Any honest person will give them credit for that.
No people from any ethnic group will buy land again in a place where their property was seized before as abandoned property or where their property has been burnt before in ethnic-based riots, but the Igbos have done it repeatedly in different parts of Nigeria.
Anybody who argues that Igbos grab their land is a lazy-minded fellow. There is a solution to it: If they offer you money for your land, say no to the money and keep your land! But if you collect money in exchange for your land, keep your mouth shut. You can’t have your cake and eat it!