Ex-Vice President, Alex Ekwueme has said the Northerners once thought Igbos are the next important beings after white men.
Speaking at the Anambra Consesus Project in Amaokpala, Anambra State, Ekwueme said the belief of the Northerners while he worked for ESSO West Africa was that Igbos are not only industrious but united as a community.
Reiterating the need for Igbo people to unite and trust each, Ekwueme wondered where and how the Igbos got it wrong.
He said: “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 APC 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 Igbo," he said.
Continuing, Ekwueme said: “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 return the money after sale because of the trust that existed.
The Second Republic Vice President however said all these have diminished because there is obvious lack of trust amongst the Igbos.
"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,” he said.
Ekwueme advised the Igbo traders to pay more attention to areas that would enhance export, arguing that it was by so doing that they would be in a position to withstand the uncertainties in the foreign exchange trade.