Igbo people have been accused of dominating other ethnic groups in Nigeria. Domination as a word has been made synonymous with Igbo people but are they aiming at dominating other ethnic groups or is it a word imposed on them?
A lot of words have been used to describe the Igbo people that range from disdain, extolling their prowess that go with their fearlessness, love for merit, justice, fairness, freedom, hard work and success or to restrain them from certain dreams.
From the time the British arrived to colonize Nigeria in 1861; many ethnic groups that today make up the country were interacting with themselves, especially in the area of commerce. They had for themselves established systems of governance. For the Igbo people, they had their kinship, age grade system and community based system. The British and their quest to rule over the people, to exploit the vast resources in the area led them towards political domination. Through brute force and other clandestine moves, they got these ethnic nationalities under their control. The Igbo put up numerous counts of resistance that it took Britain as much as twenty-one military expeditions to get them under their control. This difficulty in getting the Igbo under full control may have been a reason that the British press, as mentioned by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, described the Igbo people as “the most hated in Nigeria.”
The Igbo people were disenfranchised by the British allegedly because of lack of education and backwardness. But between 1930 and 1950; a twenty-year period, the Igbo people caught up and closed the gap in education. Charles Onyeama was quoted as saying, in the 1930s, that, “The Igbo domination of Nigeria is a matter of time.” This statement may have been made bearing in mind the energy and the motivation to pursue education to close the gap of the Igbo backwardness, have been overblown that up till the present time, other ethnic nationalities, apprehensive of Igbo success story are checkmating Igbo people in fear of domination. This fear of domination has led to numerous human losses particularly on the side of Igbo people through the coups, war and ethnically induced skirmishes.
The quest for ethno-regional domination
The quest for ethno-regional domination has also been one of the characteristics of Nigerian politics. It has been a fight for the domination of the bureaucracy, military, and economic resources, etc.
Upon the entry of Sir Frederick Lugard in Nigeria, one of his successes in unifying the Southern and Northern protectorates was the retention of the Fulani’s tribal system as he found it. He further described Nigeria as “rich wife of substance and means” (the south) and the “poor husband” (the north).” By this statement, meaning that the head of any family is naturally in the hands of the husband, this therefore started the supremacy and domination by the husband in that marriage.
The quest for domination and expansion was a pursuit by kingdoms but in Nigeria, while Igbo people are stereotyped with domination, the north as well as the west and indeed other ethnic nationalities, desire to be in control of the resources of Nigeria and dominate the political scene. From the time of independence, the three dominant ethnic groups have been in a struggle for the control of the centre.
The ethno-regional domination by the north was introduced through the division of the southern protectorate leaving the north intact. Ethnic or regional consciousness was thus introduced. That was why, leading to the independence, the political parties were formed along ethno-regional basis, each fighting to strengthen their regional agenda while aiming at the centre.
In the lead up to independence, the north insisted on having at least half or more of the total representation which is still a reality today. The north has been dominating the political scene, they have control of the resources as well as the military and other government agencies.
It is the suspicion and rivalry between the East and West that handed the north the domineering power that it is exerting till today. In 1963, while the West was further divided to get the Mid-west region, the north still remained untouched handing it the towering size to dominate the affairs of the country. The north has produced civil and military leaders for years more than the south combined. Through that, their political control has been consolidated and entrenched.
Igbo should not be scapegoat for domination
As Nigeria is currently structured, Igbo people are at a disadvantage. It is sinister to say Igbo people are dominating or seeking domination of any of the ethnic groups or politics when they are being dominated and systemically marginalised. That Igbo people are prevented from holding certain positions in agencies, military or be a president shows that they are in fact the ones suffering from domination.
Given that other ethnic groups or regions have been in a struggle to dominate and be in charge, why are Igbo people being scapegoated? If the basis is apprehension for Igbo success, why are other ethnic nationalities not interested and hungry for success? Being accused of domination has led to Igbo people being extra careful and that could have led to some of their failures in the socio-political struggle in Nigeria.
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