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A few days ago, a Twitter user, @Oge_writes bemoaned how Abuja landlords were using the facade of housing agents to deny Igbo people access to rent their property. She claimed that landlords refuse to rent their property out to her, on the account that she is Igbo. The tweet became a topical issue as she created a thread that sparked off reactions and comments. Her experience showed how much Nigeria, a once united nation, has degenerated to a place divided deeply by ethnic lines. Many went on to share similar experiences of how landlords refused to take their rent on the account of being Igbo, especially in Lagos and Abuja. However, in the 1950s, the story was pleasant and different. In 1952, the first mayor of Enugu was a Fulani northerner from Sokoto, Mallam Umaru Altine. He was voted overwhelmingly by the Igbo people far ahead of D.T. Iyang of the NCNC party, which had mostly Igbo people as its members. This delightful event reminds us of how detribalized we were during this period. Another remarkable moment was how Nnamdi Azikiwe was the most detribalized among all the nationalists of his era. His NCNC party hosted prominent non-Igbo people like Olufunmi Ransom Kuti, Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi), Chief Theophilus O.S Benson, Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, Chief Olu Akinfosile, and Chief Richard Akinjide, who were distinguished and notable Yoruba politicians in their lifetimes, and were equally close confidants of Dr Azikiwe.
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In another instance, former President, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Nnia John Nwodo was voted the Student Union Government (SUG) president of the University of Ibadan, a Yoruba-dominated university in the 1970s. According to the Igbo statesman,
“I was the SUG President at the University of Ibadan, UI, voted for by Yoruba students, despite calls by many other Yorubas not to vote for me, an ‘Alejo’ (stranger). But times have changed (for the worst, I might add) in Nigeria since then.”
However, this incident of the collective spirit of oneness shared by the NCNC and other examples has turned for the worse, it has made me recollect Chinua Achebe’s assertion in his book, There Was A Country: He said,
“Nigerians will achieve no other consensus other than their collective hatred for the Igbo.”
The rest of the country sees the Igbo man as very proud, domineering, crafty, and troublesome. The collective hatred is seen and smelt in every sector outside Igboland since the civil war (1967-70). From residences to schools, to businesses, marketplaces, and churches, this takes various forms, from the incessant increase of house and shop rents to denial of promotions, down to over-taxation for Igbo-owned businesses. One of my experiences with this discrimination is how shylock landlords of Lagos deliberately increase the rents of their shops and houses without reason. Also, many Igbo traders are subjected to excessive taxation by Yoruba market leaders. Furthermore, many Igbo exporters are forced to pay thrice the import duties of clearing and forwarding their goods off the Apapa Wharf, compared to others. In conclusion, in public secondary schools, it’s almost impossible to make an Igbo student a senior prefect, even if he’s the most qualified. It is important to note that the views held here are personal and do not in any way characterize the views of everyone. Please, let us know how and where, in Nigeria, you’ve faced discrimination. Featured Image Source: Opinion Nigeria
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This article was first published on 20th November 2021


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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