Tony Okafor, Awka
Second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, on Sunday said distrust was the bane of Igbo unity.
He asked the Igbo to unite and trust themselves, adding that it was by so doing that they would be reckoned with in Nigeria.
Ekwueme spoke at the traders’ summit and award ceremony organised by the Anambra Consensus Project to honour outstanding traders in 57 major markets in Anambra State.
The ceremony took place at Amaokpala in the Orumba North Local Government Area of the state.
Ekwueme recalled that the Igbo were united before and immediately after Nigeria’s Independence, wondering what had gone wrong over the years.
He expressed displeasure at what was going on among the Igbo lately.
Ekwueme stated, “When I returned to Nigeria after my studies abroad, I worked for the then ESSO West Africa Limited and the job took me to many cities in the northern part of the country.
“I found out that there was no place you would go and won’t find an Igbo man and they all cooperated well.
“If you wanted to buy medicine in any city in the North, whether it was Kano, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Bauchi, Bida, Minna, anywhere, it was an Igbo person that would sell it to you.
“Igbo people were so industrious that northerners were saying that after the white man, the next most important person created by God was the Igbo.”
He added, “When Igbo was Igbo, there was so much unity such that once Igbo leaders met and took a decision, every Igbo person would abide by it.
“The trust among Igbo was responsible for the reason apprenticeship became popular with the result that parents would allow their children to stay with an established Igbo man to learn a trade for periods, ranging from five to 10 years, after which the apprentice would then be ‘settled’ to start his own business.
“Even after the settlement, the newly settled young trader would be getting goods on credit from his former master and returning the money after sale because of the trust that existed.”
The former vice-president added, “But lack of trust has diminished that age-long cooperation between the master and his former apprentice, which is very worrisome.
“The main problem of the Igbo today is lack of trust. If we can rebuild the trust among ourselves, our people will be better for it.”
While appreciating the efforts of Igbo traders, who engage in the import business, Ekwueme advised them to pay more attention to areas that would enhance export.
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