The Igbo as a Blessing to Nigeria byReno Omokri 

Written by Reno Omokri

On the 15th of August 1945,

the axis nations fighting in the

Pacific theater defeated

imperial Japan and two weeks

later , Japan formally

surrendered to allied forces led

by the U.S. General, Douglas

McArthur, who formally

accepted the signed articles of

surrender.

But though the U.S. defeated Japan,

they never decimated Japan’s great

technological and industrial complex.

They were visionary enough to

distinguish these from Japan’s

military industrial complex, which they

scrapped.

Realizing that Japan was decades

ahead of the West in many

technologies, the allied powers, led by

the US, allowed those industries to

remain as a going concern and took

the unique step of enacting legislation

and policies to enable them flourish.

What they did in Japan, they also did

in Europe. In Europe, the US, acting

unilaterally, even went a step further

by introducing the Marshall Plan

through which America sent financial

and other types of aid to help Europe

(and especially Germany) recover from

the ravages of the Second World War.

The point of the allied and American

actions in Japan and Europe is that

technological advancement belongs to

the human race and should not be

allowed to suffer because of a quarrel

or war amongst humans.

This lesson was thoroughly

established in 642 AD when the Library

of Alexandria was burnt to the ground

during the Muslim conquest of Egypt.

It has been argued that that act set

the world several centuries back in

technological advancement and has

become something to watch out for

during the prosecution of a war.

A war is a quarrel between or amongst

people that is settled by means of

violence. It is not a quarrel between or

amongst technology, so civilized

nations have pursued the policy of

fighting wars while preserving

technology.

Gone should be the days of the

scorched earth policy which is why

despite the bestiality of the apartheid

regime, President Nelson Mandela did

not do a Mugabe, but rather left intact

White owned farms, industry and

universities and only insisted that they

be opened to Blacks and other races.

This brings me to Nigeria. I would like

to state a fact that will be argued

against, but still a fact that even those

who would argue against it know to be

true.

The Igbo (or Ibo) ethnic nationality of

Nigeria are the most technologically

advanced Black race on planet earth,

bar none!

This is a fact. A fact that was proven

to be true for 30 months while they

were landlocked in their constantly

shrinking enclave known as Biafra.

Cut off from the rest of the world, the

ingenuity of the Igbo came to the fore

during the civil war as they

constructed the Uli airstrip and when

that airstrip was bombed, they

repaired it in record time and under the

most trying circumstances. They

would go on to repair Uli not once and

not twice.

The Igbos refined petrol from a variety

of non fossil fuels, including from but

not limited to palm products (from

which they also produced diesel) and

manufactured surface to air missiles

which they also adapted to surface to

surface missiles (the Ogbunigwe).

They converted commercial planes to

fighter jets and weaponized them.

That was no mean feat in 1967.

In fact, when in 2012, the Nigerian

Army rolled out the igirigi and

promoted it as the first indigenous

armored personnel carrier, they were

wrong. I am not a Biafran. I am

proudly Nigerian. And beyond that, I

am a proud dark skinned Black

African yet I make bold to say that the

igirigi is not the first indigenous APC.

In fact, the first indigenous armored

personnel carrier in Black Africa is the

Red Devil, built by the Igbos during the

Nigerian Civil War.

The Nigerian Civil War ended in

January 1970 and the Nigerian Army

unveiled the igirigi in July of 2012. If

they had converted the Red Devil to

their own use, they would probably be

talking about a greater feat in the year

2012.

My question is what happened in the

intervening 42 years between 1970

and 2012? Why didn’t the Nigerian

Army integrate the military industrial

complex of Biafra into its Defence

Industry Corporation of Nigeria,

DICON?

Why did we have to reinvent the wheel

at great cost in terms of time and

money?

The Nigerian Civil War ended on a note

of ‘no victor no vanquished’. That was

a watershed moment inspired by the

Christlike mind of General Yakubu

Gowon. That gesture is to be

applauded.

But why did we as a nation not go the

whole hog and take advantage of

Biafra’s technological advances and

integrate her scientists into our

Research and Development sector

much like the US did with German and

Japanese scientists?

That is where we failed as a nation.

I remember growing up as a child and

how other Nigerians scoffed at ‘Igbo

made’ electronic products. There was

hardly anything including electronics,

pharmaceuticals, spirits and wines

that the Igbos could not counterfeit.

And rather than our leaders seeing the

potential in those products, we all

scoffed at them. Igbo made products

were a pariah.

Did it ever occur to any of our leaders

that if government had supported

these technological advancement,

Nigeria could have become an

industrialized nation today and Igbo

made products would have been

exported abroad as made in Nigeria

products?

It would surprise many that a number

of the greatest technological

advancement and products that came

out of America after the Second World

War were the work of German or

Japanese scientists!

In an operation code named Operation

Paperclip, 1500 German scientists,

engineers and technicians were

airlifted to the United States and given

US permanent US residency and

citizenship immediately after the

defeat of Germany in 1945. The

primary aim of Operation Paperclip

was to prevent these skilled men and

women from falling into Soviet

Russian hands.

Hans Erich (Eric) Hollmann who was

one of the fathers of radar technology

was one of such scientists airlifted to

America.

Kurt Lehovec the pioneer of the

integrated circuit systems in electrical

engineering is another. He was

airlifted to America in 1945 where he

became a Professor at the University

of Southern California and passed on

his knowledge to America’s next

generation of scientists.

The allies had been having issues with

the jet engine and were not able to

develop planes like the German

Messerschmitt Me 262. But after the

defeat of Germany, US forces gave

safe passage to Rudi Beichel who

went to the US and became an adviser

to the US army on liquid propulsion.

Other German scientists such as

Magnus “Mac” Freiherr von Braun and

his brother, Wernher Von Braun helped

reverse engineer German jets which

led to the development of the US

American F-86 Sabres, a plane that

helped the US dominate the air during

the Korean War.

More importantly, Wernher Von Braun

provided much of the know how that

helped America build the Apollo

spacecraft which allowed America

beat Russia as the first nation to get

to the moon.

Methamphetamine was invented by

Japanese a Japanese chemist, Nagai

Nagayoshi and the drug was shared

with their German allies and helped

their soldiers stay awake and focus.

After the war, German scientists

helped American scientist synthesize

the drug which revolutionized the US

health industry.

Why can’t we do the same in Nigeria?

Can you imagine what our

technological base would have been if

we as a nation had a policy of

patronizing the so called Igbo made

products right from the end of the war

till today? What if we had absorbed

the the Research and Production

Organisation of Biafra (RAP as it was

then known) into the Nigerian Army

Corps of Engineers?

By now, we may have been

manufacturing jets and we would not

be dependent on foreign nations for

weapons to fight terrorists.

This is why I was so disgusted with

the minister of science and

technology, Ogbonnaya Onu for

aspiring, on Nigeria’s behalf, to

produce pencils by 2018!

I mean this man is the first civilian

governor of the old Abia state which

today encompasses both Abia and

Ebonyi states.

Right there, under his own nose,

Nigerians of Igbo extraction, without

ANY governmental support, are

manufacturing electronics and heavy

machinery components and Onu is

caught up on pencils!

Onu should visit Nnewi if he knows

where it is. Right there he would see a

city that does not wait for government.

Nnewi people are so industrious that

after years of waiting endlessly for

government to provide basic

amenities, they have built their own

roads, have their own power stations

and their own water works.

Just like Japan, Nnewi has

manufacturers of such things like

batteries, pistons, automobiles and

other products. These Nnewi

manufacturers have built schools for

the kids of their workers on site, just

like in Japan.

You just need to visit Nnewi or Aba to

see what is going on in Nigeria. These

guys are Nigeria’s most guarded

secret because even the federal

government is not aware of them.

And the reason why this is so is

because these people are Igbos!

It is time for Nigeria to forgive the

Igbos for being Igbo and accept them

as full partners and equal partners in

the Nigerian project and use the entire

strength of the Nigerian federal

government to provide them the

support to fulfill their destiny as the

Black African people that are nucleus

of the technological advancement of

Africa.

Notice I say Africa, not just Nigeria. I

don’t say this lightly. All over West and

Central Africa, Nigerians of Igbo

extraction are the backbone of the

commercial and technological sectors.

I can say what I have said above

without any accusation of self or

group interest promotion because I

am not Igbo neither am I married to

one. I have said the truth as my

conscience sees it because I am

committed to advancement of the

Black Race because as a proud Black

man, I know that no black African tribe

is as great as the Black Race when it

is united.

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