The Igbo epitomize deftness and drive for economic development in Nigeria: Their potential for Igbo land-Centered Economic Development
The following are snippets of commentaries on Igbo resilience, ingenuity, business savvy and ruggedness, determination and resourcefulness. Please sit back, take a little time to drink in the economic powerhouse that Igbo people represent in Nigeria. Indeed, the Igbo is a blessing to Nigeria and does not deserve to be treated the way it is being treated presently in the polity.
A. The need to stand together as a people
Ndi Igbo have to empower themselves to be innovative so as to ensure economic freedom and political equity. The newly invigorated Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo should lead the way. It should bring all Igbo organizations at home and in the Diaspora together to see what we can achieve as one functional unit. If we can achieve that oneness of purpose, we do not see how any rival group in Nigeria and indeed in Africa can come close. We must encourage innovation in all Igbo States, towns and villages. We must encourage ourselves to build on the private enterprises that have exploded in Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba, Alaoji, Emene, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Igbariam, Afikpo, Asaba, Alaoji and other areas.
B. From Igbo made/Aba made to full scale Industrial Explosion
The Igbo have been described, albeit with a derogatory bent, as “petty traders”. They have endured this through the past decades and have since metamorphosed into power houses of entrepreneurial achievers. Today Igbo companies have grown in leaps and bounds as well as in sophistication and have shaken off the garb of “petty traders” to become the industrialists Nigeria should be celebrating. They made Onitsha Main market the biggest market in West Africa and Aba the only place that manufactures every single thing we use from boxers, to under wears, all kinds of foot wears, suits etc. Igbo land fits the mold of what used to be called “occupied Japan” which gave birth to what has become the toast of the world in every dimension. Our products have been “honored” with appellations like “Aba made” or “Igbo made”. Nevertheless, they are selling and will achieve perfection like the “occupied Japan” goods of yesteryears. At least Igbo manufacturers are now exporting products to Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo and Cameroun etc. Today we have Nnewi auto/parts manufacturing, the first of its kind in Africa as well as the industrial manufacturing estates in Alaoji, the small engines fabrication and motor parts markets in Aba, the Coal Camp artisans in Enugu and Emene Industrial Estates. The Abakaliki, Afikpo, Adani, Aghamelum commercial rice production and commercial agricultural estates are positioning Ndi Igbo for future economic transformation. Despite the lack of genuine support from successive Federal Governments; these Igbo brand products are dominating and making waves in all sectors of life in Nigeria and West Africa. Please read further.
C. Global Reach and rev writers reviews
We invite you to visit the following links for a peek into Igbo prowess as seen by global writers.
The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21541015
In the latter, the origins of NOLLYWOOD movie industry which started about 30 years ago were reviewed. According to legend, the first Nollywood movie was made by a small-time electronics trader named Kenneth Nnebue. Other merchants, who are overwhelmingly Igbo, Nnebue’s ethnic group, followed him into this business and they now control the Nollywood movie in Africa. Ask the Asians and they will tell you that the Igbo are the greatest, vibrant and innovative business people ever. Since Igbo forays into the far-east, the terrain has never been the same. See a review by Yang Yang
Even in faraway China, Ndi Igbo are making waves
African Traders in Guangzhou, China: Routes, Profits, and Reasons
The traders today mainly come from Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, Kenya, and Tanzania. The majority are identified as Nigerian Igbo, who are mainly Christians from Nigeria’s eastern region. Compared to their other African counterparts, these Igbo usually stay for longer periods in China and sometimes manage to open multiple shops in China, earning a reputation of being very good at business. My Igbo friends said that they had to be good at business to survive. “If you want to know about Igbo, you need to know the history of the Biafran War– a Nigerian ethnic war in the late 1960s which resulted in the mass expropriations of Igbo wealth and property. We became the poorest ethnic group and we could not enter good entry-level jobs because we were discriminated against. So Igbo had to stand on their own feet and make profits from whatever possible means, –one trader in Guangzhou said. Please visit the link below to read the story of another trader:
D. Think of the HiTech and Advanced Business centers in Nigeria
One of the sectors of our economy that jumps out is the Hitech business. An example is the Ikeja Computer Village – The Largest IT market in West Africa
The Igbo invented and dominate the computer markets across Nigeria. This is exemplified by the Ikeja computer village which makes Ikeja itself stand out from other towns in Lagos as the go-to place in computers. It is the so-called largest IT market in West Africa. Like other well-known markets in Lagos it is very busy and rowdy. But it differs greatly from other markets in that it is home to the major dealers of Mobile Phones and computers as well as their accessories. The computer markets have expanded to Abuja, Onitsha and Aba where you can buy all major electronics, phones, mobile devices and computer accessories, software and hardware alike.
How did it all begin?
The origins of Ikeja Computer market is the exact copy of the origins of Igbo business throughout Nigeria and elsewhere. It is Igbo-driven. The present location of this market was a residential area until late 1999 or early 2000 when internet technology became an integral factor in corporate Nigeria. Knowing that a major industry was about to spring forth, savvy Igbo business men took position in the most vantage location of Ikeja – Otigba Street to commence trading in IT equipment and devices. By 2003 a year after GSM services were introduced to Nigeria, the Ikeja computer village had become a household name among telecommunication users, especially small businesses and end users. Please read further to see Igbo DNA written all over this industry. We have used Zinox Technologies to exemplify this development:
Visit Zinox Technologies, Ltd., http://www.zinoxtechnologies.com/home/index.php
Zinox Technologies, Ltd is the largest independent computer software and hardware maker in West Africa. It is the first computer manufacturer in Nigeria to achieve the NIS ISO 9001 – 2000 QMS Certification. In a landmark partnership geared towards massive price reduction of personal computers (PC), Microsoft Inc., Intel Corporation, and Zinox formed an alliance that help bring cost of PC acquisition below US$400. Zinox Technologies Limited which was founded by Leonard “Leo” Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh has since given birth to other companies such as Task Systems, Technology Distributions Limited, ICT Brokers, TD Plus, ICT Connect and Buyright AFRICA Dotcom. Zinox Computers is presently rated by International Data Corporation (IDC), USA as the No. 2 selling brand amongst international brands in Nigeria. That is a pride of the Igbo
E. Automotive Manufacturing in Igboland.
Please visit the links below to see the wonders that have become Innoson. This bold and innovative manufacturer captures the backbone of what was good in Biafra, including what we attempted to preserve in the poorly funded Projects Development Agency (PRODA). Igbo ingenuity knows no limits. See the links below appreciate how far we have come.
Africa’s #1 automotive manufacturing factory, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM), is in Igbo land, specifically in Nnewi. IVM is part of the Innoson Group of Companies founded by the visionary Chairman, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, (OON).
IVM’s product line includes heavy duty vehicles, middle and high level buses, special environment friendly vehicles. The company carries out optimization design and assembly dictated by West African road conditions giving rise to durable and affordable products. Recently, IVM was visited by the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Olumuyiwa Alade Ajibola accompanied by a team of top engineers from the body’s branches across the country. He summarized their pleasant experience as follows:
‘We are here to know if truly vehicles are manufactured or just being assembled at Nnewi. We have gone round the factory, section by section and indeed observed that the vehicles are locally produced. We are also impressed to discover that Nigerians are in charge of the production process. This is a great achievement and as engineers we are happy that sustainable development is taking place in Nigeria’.
F. We must believe in ourselves
The Igbo is endowed and blessed. They are loaded with God’s favors. They should wake up and count their blessings. They should stop listening to all the dooms day rhetoric and bad news forecasts about Igboland. Igbo business is growing and booming in Igboland but they are doing more so outside Igbo land. We need to think home. We need to imagine what would happen if the rest of Nigeria have to come to Igbo land to acquire goods and services only found in the hands of the Igbo. Nigeria and lands beyond Nigeria see Igbo land as an emerging frontier for innovation and local content startup place. You are invited to take a look at the types of emerging brands, products and sustained businesses Igbo are using to put Igbo land and Nigeria on the map. They are in the engine rooms of business in transportation, computer and other electronics, electricals, agriculture, machine tool, motor parts, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, discovery etc. Igbo land and eastern region is opening up for grass root and genuine ground up business.
The Igbo, especially Diaspora Igbo, should now look inwards and start investing their talents, money and drive in Igbo land. They should bring home their acumen that has allowed them to excel in other land. Igbo land should be the new frontier for the Igbo for business expansion and business startup. The Igbo should learn to build companies and business from ground up and not from up to down. We must begin to perform the wonders in Igbo land that we have performed across Nigeria in places like Alaba international market Lagos, Ikeja computer market, Aspanda market, Ladipo motor car parts, Trade fair market Lagos, Benin market, Port Harcourt markets, Kano, Makurdi, Jos, Benin City, Kaduna.
A sampling of the Igbo industrial power can be seen in the following:
a). Igbo Drugs and Pharmaceutical Industries
The recent Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC approved leading Igbo drugs and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries are filling the vacuum left by foreign drug companies that deserted Nigeria. These Igbo drugs manufacturing industries have their plants and factories built in Igboland in Onitsha, Enugu, Owerri, Aba and Lagos in addition to their agents in other parts of Nigeria. These guys are really making the Igbo proud. Good things are really happening in Igbo land for those who want to know. The importance of these industries in Nigeria’s wellbeing cannot be over emphasized.
The six (6) leading Igbo drugs and pharmaceutical companies with big presence and factories in Igbo land are
- EMZOR DRUG INDUSTRY http://www.emzorpharma.com/
- ORANGE DRUGS INDUSTRY http://www.orangegroups.com/index.html
- JUHEL PHARMACEUTICALS INDUSTRY http://www.juhelnigeria.com/
- RICO PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES LIMITED
- MICHELLE LABORATORIES LTD http://www.michellelab.com/
- NICHBEN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES LIMITED
b). Parade of a sample of Igbo Owned Companies
The Igbo remain the major players in Nigerian business setting both formal and informal economy, even in Lagos. An array of Igbo owned and operated companies include:
- RAPIDO Ventures Ltd. Owerri, a wholly Nigerian owned company that manufactures educational materials, with specialty in audio visual teaching aids and display Systems. It owns ABC transport a giant in the transport industry that has spread throughout West and Central Africa
- Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, Plc., a leading diversified conglomerate that focuses on acquiring and managing strategic businesses that create long term shareholder returns and socio-economic impact. It has business interests in four strategic sectors: Power, Oil & Gas, Hospitality and Agriculture.
- Anabel Mobile Limited, an integrated Mobile Device, Technology and Telecoms Content Company. It is the only home grown Nigerian company manufacturing mobile phones right here in Nigeria. It has over five subsidiary companies
- Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, which is into the manufacture of high quality pharmaceutical products and medical consumables. Its holding company, Emzor Chemists Limited opened for retail business in January 1977 in Yaba, Lagos.
- Ibeto Industries Ltd. Despite the high-handedness of a Nigerian government on this company, it remains the leader in automotive lead acid battery manufacturing in Nigeria and is engaged in the A-Z manufacturing of vehicle and industrial components of all kinds
- Capital Oil and Gas Industries Ltd., a privately owned, wholly Nigerian concern is a major player in the importation, storage, distribution, trading and retailing of oil products.
- Chrome Group with over ten active subsidiaries with interests in different sectors of the economy including Oil and Gas, Insurance, Real Estate, the Power Sector, Telecommunications and Logistics and have so far achieved tremendous growth.
Other companies include:
- MTN Nigeria
- Slok Group(shipping)
- Visa Phone, Nigeria
- Chi Limited (Chivita Juice)
- FAN (Ice Creams)
- Consolidated Breweries
- Ogbuawa (motorcycles)
- Coscharis Motors
- Linkserve Ltd
- Fidelity Bank
- BANK PHB – PAT UTOMI
- Diamond Bank
- Aba textiles (the only surviving Nigerian textile industry left)
- Sun Newspaper
- Champion Newspapers
- ThisDay newspaper
- Zinox computers
- Eko Hospital
- Orange drugs
- Juhel pharmaceuticals
- Numerous private universities
- Ovium pc and tablets (recently won an award for best African innovation)
- GENESIS popular in the east especially PH and Enugu, own cinemas just like silver bird)
- Global Motors International, Nigeria
- The hotel industry across Nigeria is basically owned by the Igbo 70% and over (Abuja, Lagos, PH, Asaba, Kano, Kaduna, etc.) In the southeast it’s 100%.
- Even with the passing of Chief Augustine Ilodibe his company, Ekenedilichukwu remains number one in the Nigerian transport industry
In summary ABC Transport, Orange Drug, Delta soap, Diamond Bank, Zinox Computers, Roban Stores, Rainbownet, UBA, Zenith Bank, BANK PHB, Arik Air, Wakanow, Ovim Tablet Phones & Softwares, Nolly wood are Igbo brands, not to talk of the prominence of the Igbo in the Super Eagles, Flying Eagles and the Falcon.
The huge Transport Industry parades pioneer Igbo giants like D.D. Onyemelukwe, J.C. Ulasi, Louis Philip Ojukwu, Chief Augustine Ilodibe, Chidi Ebere, Izuchukwu and Chief C.N. Okwunwa. The newer entrants include Emenike Motors, Micmerah International Agency, Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke of G.U.O. Transport Service, F.G. Onyenwe, Dan Dollars of Dan Dollars Motors Limited, The Young Shall Grow Motors, Ekeson Group of Companies, Igwe (Dr) James Mamah of Ifesinachi Transport, Mr. Frank Nneji of ABC Transport Service, Bestway Transport Limited.
The huge manufacturing industry business parades giant Igbo businesses like Ibeto Group of Companies, Cutix and ADswitch, Uru Industries Ltd, Omata Holdings Ltd, Cento Group of Companies, Coscharis of Companies Group, Innoson Group of Companies, Ebunso Nig. Ltd, John White Industries, Ejiamatu Group of Companies, Horizontal Ent. Ltd, M. O. I. Ltd.DE R.C ORIZ INV Ltd., and Hardis and Dromedas a manufacturing company and huge employer of labor owned by Dr. Chike Obidigbo
These are all Igbo brands that should make all Igbo a proud race.
Let’s look at the food potentials of Igbo land with a glimpse on Ebonyi State: The Salt of the Nation
Rice is a very popular staple food in Nigeria. Though it is produced locally, the nation still relies heavily on importation for the supply of rice. Over the years, there have been calls for the government to boost local production in order to cut down the huge expenditure on importation. This call threw up the government’s new initiatives in agriculture and established Abakaliki Rice Mill, where the popular ‘Abakaliki rice’ is produced. Please visit the link below to see the wonders happening in Igbo land in food production.
Let’s go to work
As it is in Ebonyi, so it is in Enugu, Anambra, Rivers (with substantial Igbo population) and Delta (also with substantial Igbo population). With careful planning, Igbo land can feed its teeming population with rice, beans, cassava, yams, livestock etc.) With careful planning, expanded industrialization will provide jobs for our younger population. With careful planning, transport and mobility problems will be solved including development of light rail networks to move goods and people easily throughout the eastern states. With careful planning, Igbo can provide critical specialty healthcare over and beyond what is available in the health systems in Igbo States and indeed in Nigeria and sub-Sharan Africa. This will help curb medical tourism and keep huge resources at home and in Igbo pockets. World Igbo Congress is leading that charge with its Regional Medical Center of Excellence project at Ogbaku, Imo State. Ndi Igbo, this is our time to take the bull by the horn. It is not just a coincidence, it is a God-sanctioned event that Chief John Nnia Nwodo, an unapologetic Igbo to the core, a fearless go-getter of standing reputation and an experienced player in the Nigerian polity emerged, without rancor, as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo. Ndi be anyi, let’s go to work.