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Open Letter To Ngige Who Recently Said “It Is Not Proper To Say That South- South People Are Not Igbos”



I am writing to you concerning the statement you made in Anambra on Monday, that it is not proper to say that south- south people are not Igbos. In other words, you were saying that south- south people are Igbos.

You said that during the civil war, the south- south people fought on the side of Igbos, and they suffered casualties, but today the Igbos are saying they are not part of Igbos. You said that is not good.

You also said that the new Chief of Defence Staff, Major- General Lucky Irabor is an Igbo, and that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is also an Igbo man.

Sir, I find these statements quite disturbing, because as someone from south- south, I have never been in a situation where I was referred to as an Igbo man.

Sir, every tribe has its own uniqueness and peculiarities, and the Igbos are unique and peculiar in their own way. But I think it takes more than mere confessions to be identified with a particular ethnic group. I love the Igbo people tremendously, and over the years I have built amazing relationships with people from that region, but that doesn’ t make me an Igbo man.

The south- south people have shared long decades of relationship with the Igbos, even before the war, even though the war did a lot of damages to the trust and social texture, of not just the south, but the entire country.

Predominantly, Igbo states are five in numbers- Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Anambra. Though there have always been arguments that some traces of Igbo culture can be found in some parts of Delta, Rivers and Benue states.

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Sir, the south- south which you claimed is part of Igbo has six states, which all of us already know- Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers states.

Nigeria was subdivided into six geopolitical zones- North- West, North- East, North- Central, South- West, South- East, and South- South. And the beautiful thing about these zones is that each of these zones is made of up States with identical cultures, ethnic similarities, and some common history.

Sir, just like I said before, it takes more than confessions to attach one group to a particular one. For a group to be part of a particular ethnic group, it means they share several things in common already, which are- cultural heritage, language, religion, ancestry, origin myth, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance, values, beliefs, behaviours, region, and other characteristics which are handed down from one generation to the other. That is why ethnicity is not basically genetic, a lot of several factors come into play.

So if you look at these characteristics, I wonder why anyone should say that the south- south people are Igbos. The Igbos have a common language, and that language is not the common language of the south- south people.

For instance, when it comes to the stories of how Efik people migrated and found themselves in Calabar, that story of their origin which the older ones tell the young ones in Calabar is totally different from the origin myth told in Igbo land.

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The cuisines of the South- South people are quite different from those of the Igbos, their dressing differs, their cultural heritage, their behaviours, and several other factors listed above. And then is the issue of region- the south- south people have their own region which is not part of the Igbo region which is the southeast.

So Sir, for one to say that a particular group is the same as the other, that means the two groups must share these similarities, but the south- south people do not share those similarities with the Igbo people.

The Igbo people are unique in their own way, the same way south- south people are unique in their own way. But I found it a bit disturbing that you implied that south- south people are Igbos.

Even though we are all part of this great and enterprising project called Nigeria, we are all unique and beautiful in our own ways. And it is these differences that make us unique as a country, because unity makes more sense when we are different yet united. Because there wouldn’ t be any need for unity if we were not different in the first place.

Sir, I felt I should air my view on this after I saw your statement on the issue. God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

What do you think about the statement that Chris Ngige made- do you support the statement that South- South people are Igbos?