What Nigeria expects of Onye-Igbo, based on negative profiling, is to deliver high standards consistently, Columnist CHIDO NwaKANMA submits.

Reading through the “random musing” of one of us, he asked, What Would Have Happened if the Collapsed Ikoyi Tower Belongs to an Igbo?

He answers that Nigerians, the media, individuals, and groups, would have used it as a peg to demonise the Igbo. He added: “There would have been massive ethnic profiling. All Igbo businessmen would have been viciously tagged cheats, dishonest and greedy. They would have been derided, cyberbullied, and held vicariously and collectively responsible for the sin of one man.”

The writer then veered into the now commonplace Lamentations of the Igbo. I submit that the Igbo should apply lateral rather than vertical thinking to some of these matters. Lateral thinking would enable appreciation of the broader scope and the rich opportunities in the obverse.

Here are the meanings and implications of the assumed Nigerian response if the 21-storey-disaster-building belonged to one of us.

  1. Every Igbo is a microcosm and representative of all Igbo. You represent the whole, mainly if you are involved in a negative.
  2. Every Onye Igbo should bear in mind the fact of being an ambassador. Put your best foot forward always.
  3. Nigerians expect a higher standard from Ndi Igbo. Back of the demonisation is anger that the group they expected more joined the rest to do as they do.
  4. Onye Igbo stands in a unique position in the perception of Nigerians. Regardless of the motive, the rest of Nigeria places Onye Igbo in high standing.
  5. Therefore, Igbo persons and institutions cannot go with the low standard flow such as they recently did in Owerri awarding unearned professorships. Shameful.
  6. Avoid the hubris that stirs negative emotions of envy, resentment and more towards your person and tribe.
  7. To fulfil the expectation, Ndigbo must not be part of the national pastime of cutting corners. Our philosophical orientation and ethos are against such practices.

The Aba Example

The call on the Igbo is a call to higher standards and values. We should establish The Igbo Standard to be five to ten notches above the norm in our land. In every area of endeavour, we should look at the Nigerian standard and scale it up.

From artisans to workers, scientists to scholars and salespeople, we should push for higher and better. The Igbo Standard should stand apart like the Americans demand American Specification for vehicles and other goods: richer, taller, and better. History and contemporary affairs of the Igbo show that we can do it.

We made lemonade from the lemons of Biafra.

Have you noticed how the din of “Aba Made” as a derogation has died?

Our folks in Aba proved the point of their capability in fashion, for instance, by becoming the outfitters of choice. The story, some apocryphal, is that they made entrepot trade. They would manufacture fashion items, from clothes to footwear, export them to Dubai and redistribute from there to other destinations, including Nigeria! The rest of Africa gladly visits Aba and the giant emporium of Onitsha for our goods.

This is what Nigeria expects, dear Onye-Igbo; please aim for the skies.