Drawing a line from the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu who had continually warned Ndigbo to come home and invest in their towns and villages, Ramas told our correspondent in this exclusive interview of his tears and pains at the colossal losses of Igbo people in Nigeria, especially in the Northern states since independence.
“I was present when the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was invited to the commissioning of the International Trade Fair on Badagry Road in Lagos. The business community and core investors in the complex being mostly Igbo people, they had thought Ojukwu will sing and praise their efforts, but Ikemba cried and told the Igbo people to their faces that he was totally disappointed in them.
“He warned them that in the end, they will regret all these investments they are pouring into Lagos State because in a matter of time, only with a pen through one legislation will Lagos State legislators will write off their property. They will forfeit all their homes and investments they have sunk into Lagos State and they will go back home and start struggling again in their old age until they die. Ojukwu had told them it happened before, and it will happen again.
“Since the past ten years I have been talking to Igbo people in Nigeria and in the Diaspora to look back home, to move their massive investments, industries, commerce, even intellectual properties to their own people, but nobody is listening; the successful Ibo business class think only them know how to reason, that only them have first class brains, but let us borrow a leaf from the former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio.
“Apapa wharf is not the only hob of business in the country; there is also the Warri wharf and the Calabar Wharf where Ibos can go and invest and I tell you, both wharfs can be as good as Lagos tin can. I don’t know what so attract Igbo people that they commit all that they have into Lagos State and other parts of Nigeria without remembering that they have towns and villages lying empty with youths and elderly people languishing in poverty. My people should adhere to the adage says, East or West, Home is the best.’
Ramas pointed to some five star hotels and estates owned by Igbo business men and lamented that the spirit of Lagos has taken everything away from his people.
‘Rock View Hotel in Apapa, Lagos, for example, was built by the owner of Young Shall Grow transport; yet this man is one of those who made the building of our Anambra State airport impossible till today. All those transporters, according to my personal investigation, are the brains behind infrastructural failures for decades since Anambra became a State, so much that we could not build even an aerodrome where a helicopter or small planes will land in the State.
“Since I was in Lagos in 1980, I heard about Ogbar airport, but till this moment, there is no clearance and no progress; there is another airport they are trying again but nothing has come out of it. Igbo transporters as well as those generator merchants that sabotage power flow in Nigeria believe there is no development coming to Anambra, so they enrich other states and kill their own fatherland.”
The industrialist and traditionalist also frowned at the slow pace of his own state government in grassroots development.
“I left Lagos city and returned home to develop the grassroots; helping my native people and developing my community; helping the widows, people abandoned in hospitals in the state and outside, championing the course of youths and empowering both young and old, yet the state government does not even acknowledge efforts of people like me.
“What is the hope of our future generation if all our labour becomes the prosperity of other states and other nations? Look at all the years Anambra spent in litigation fighting autonomy in our local government areas in our own Nri kingdom; it is only recently government yielded to that demand after some 22 years! Freedom is sweet; freedom is development, like the Local Government for example, because its creation will now usher in development to the grassroots.”
Ramas is not alone in this view; the overview of a unified Ndigbo as a people or Nigeria as a nation as assessed by a member of the highly esteemed Enugwu-Ukwu Traditional Council and lecturer at the Madonna University in Anambra State, Dr. M.C. Nwafor, falls far short of optimism.
“You can see that there nothing united in this nation at all, except perhaps, the game of football which itself has been politicised and tribalised; now players have to be brought in from all the geo political zones, which is not the spirit of soccer. The fate of this country as one nation is as good as anyone’s guess. Culturally we are not the same; in religion we are not the same. Now your son cannot do his youth service in the North.”
Buttressing the pains of Ramas on Igbos in the Diaspora, Nwafor pointed out:
“Consider seriously: how many Northerners own any property in Enugwu, Anambra or other Eastern States for example? Apart from one they call Baba Enugu, no single Northerner owns anything worth calling a property; no Yoruba man will invest and own a property in the East; it is only the Igbo man that is nationalistic; wherever he goes he invests and converts it to his own home and moves in with his entire family: no other tribe does that.
“From all indications I am not too optimistic about this country continuing as one sovereign nation, except God Almighty intervenes,” Ramas concluded.