The Igbo elites in Nigeria, both at home and in the diaspora, that is, those living outside Igboland, are in pitiable situation. They are knowledgeable. They are educated. They are sophisticated. But at the same time, many of the Igbo elites are timid. They are held hostage in their consciences. They are captured in their minds. They are self-alienated. They are self-defeated.
Since after the Nigerian civil war, many of the Igbo elites have refused to come out from the war which ended 48 years ago. They still see themselves as defeated, or as conquered people. They have refused to come out from their shells, to assert themselves. They have lost their voice in a country where they still count themselves as members. In short, majority of these Igbo elites have refused to outgrow the war.
In their helplessness and despair, the Igbo elites see Nigeria as a finished commodity, and not a problem to be solved. They feel shy and will shut their mouths against the several injustices in the system. In the words of Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for injustice to thrive is for good men to do nothing. The Igbo elites do not talk when it is necessary for them to speak.
Majority of the Igbo elites are despaired. They see Nigeria as beyond redemption, and their problems in the country as incapable of solution. They are helpless. Even when there are some feeble efforts by the administration to ameliorate the situation, they still will not see these efforts as worthwhile, as capable of solving their problems or bring them out of the wood. As such, they will conclude that there will be no point wasting their time in any of such exercises.
For instance, each time there is a national census, or the periodic elections, the Igbo elites will not be involved, they will not participate. They will not sensitize or mobilize their people to participate in the exercise. They will tell you that there will be no point wasting their time in an exercise whose outcome has already been determined or decided.
As such, the Igbo elites outside Igboland will simply sit back at their places of domicile and prefer to be counted there, if they will even come out at all, or to cast their votes for their preferred candidates. But their counterparts in other parts of the country will move back to their home regions, each time there is any such exercise, to boost the population of their states of origin.
The Igbo elites at home will consider themselves too big or too highly placed to come out under the sun or rainfall to be counted, or to queue behind some less than human beings, to register, or to cast their votes during an election. They will comfortably cross their legs in their expansive sitting rooms, watching television or reading newspapers, while these exercises are going on.
No wonder the South East geopolitical zone has recorded the least registered voters in the country, according to figures recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). With such low figure, how can the South East effectively negotiate with other zones in the quest for political offices? Yet, we will be crying that we were being cheated, which is self-inflicted.
Again, when as a result of such exercises, the Nigerian government begins to take certain actions, or implement certain programmes, and the Igbo society is excluded or failed to get what they think will be their fair share, the Igbo elites will begin to murmur and to complain that their people were being marginalised or shortchanged.
The Igbo elites do not consider it necessary to invest in Igboland in order to create jobs for millions of their unemployed brothers and sisters. They have their investments outside Igboland. When, however, these investments begin to grow and the host states or communities begin to get jealous or envious and as a result, decide to introduce some harsh measures that will cripple their investments, they will begin to complain, that they are being maltreated or marginalised.
The Igbo elites suffer self-degradation and self-alienation. Even though they possess the intellect and the capacity to change any bad situation, they still kowtow and lick the boots of their less than better “benefactors”, those they think own Nigeria more than themselves.
When the position of the Igbo in Nigeria has become so intolerable, getting from bad to worse, and there was no person bold enough to challenge the system, and a Nnamdi Kanu and some other young men like him emerged, and began to challenge the system and call for the liberation of the Igbo from Nigeria, the Igbo elites were the first to disown them. They called them “miscreants”, “half educated”, etc.
Elsewhere, in other parts of the country, it is the that elites provide the intellectual fire power to such freedom fighters. But here, the Igbo elites would rather betray their own and call for the clipping of their wings.