by Stephen Chidiebere Ikebude
My journey to Nigeria began with a compulsory attendance of my elder brother’s wedding at Enugu-Nanka, Orumba North Local government area of Anambra state. Unfortunately, I missed the wedding ceremony due to some unexpected issues I encountered at Benin, Edo state.
The problems I had didn’t hinder my resolution of getting to my motherland, my hometown at Okija, Ihiala local government area of Anambra. It took the help of friends who connected a commercial taxi driver to pick me up from New Lagos Road in Benin where my car developed an unprecedented security challenge.
Finally, I got home. I arrived with lots of expectations, enthusiasm and hopes. Expectations to feed my eyes and witness the growth and development of South East since it has been ages I last visited. After few days at Okija, I moved to Ekwulobia to spend some few days. During my stay there, I had time to visit some other cities in South East.
Until I left the South East after two weeks of stay, I conspicuously noticed one damning similarity, a feature that resonates in every city I visited. This particular issue epitomises the character of an Igbo man, a trait transferred to an average Igbo child, long before the Igbo child assumes adulthood.
Igbos must as a matter of urgency desist from building huge, expensive, luxury and unnecessary mansions in villages and city suburbs without checking the economic impacts of such ludicrous financial investments to the environments and the people living in such environments.
It is saddening and wasteful to spend monetary millions constructing expensive houses you do not live in. It makes no economic sense seeking people to stay in such houses, to keep the property tidied and clean because you cannot stay there more than a few weeks in a year.
Dear Igbo richmen, instead of building mansions you don’t live in, big houses you find difficult to maintain or expensive apartments you still pay people to clean for you. Instead of building edifices to prove an uneconomic point, be creative and drive up the economy of your village and immediate community by setting up small or medium sized factories or services rendering businesses.
Yes, hotels are good. Yes, oil business is booming but not the way we are presently doing them. It is almost difficult to pass a street in Igbo land without sighting or counting few hotels. Filling stations arrange themselves as if they are proposing to freely give out fuels to their customers.
With the inestimable availability of petrol stations in Igbo land, it is almost impossible to buy fuel at official prices in the whole of South East even though prices of fuel are normalising in other parts of the country. This is a shame and a blow to the selfish richmen whose strengths are geared towards short-changing the poor Igbos in the Southeast.
Our hometowns are not developed because we do not seek to develop them using developmentally curated ideas that will create employments for people, cause people to live there and encourage the growth of commerce in such communities. Building residential skyscrapers doesn’t develop a community.
We need small businesses, factories to process locally produced agricultural products and community-based services providing companies to develop our communities. We don’t need big houses and hotels. For your information, Awka, Enugu and other big cities in the South East can use functional cinemas….go build such and count your returns.
Ndigbo stop competing with yourselves and partake in the commercialisation, growth and development of your local communities. Your mansion does not represent wealth if your neighbours and those living around it are meagerly poor. You have a poor mindset if you think your mansion is a show of well-being even when you run away from it after a few weeks.
Let’s develop ani’igbo.