A day after the January 20 bomb attacks in the Kano metropolis, luxury bus parks became jam-packed with Igbo residents purchasing tickets to leave the state. At the famous New road motor park in Sabon Gari area of Kano, long queues of travellers of Igbo extraction were seen. All the buses leaving the park had no vacant seats. However, some stayed back
The mass exodus of Igbo was almost akin to the time of the civil war of the late 60s. they were fleeing Kano after the city came under series of attacks. It was as if all of them would leave and never to return. Some, however, chose to stay back due to several reasons bordering on economic, spiritual and marital sake.
Among the categories of those who stayed back are traders and businessmen who said they opted to stay back to protect their investments.
“I am a businessman and I cannot just pack and leave. I am here with my family because if I leave, it will affect my business and the education of my children. So, I have to stay back,” Kano-based businessman, David Chukwudima, said.
At the Federal College of Education located at Gadon Kaya, a mother of four who craved anonymity said she is Igbo, stating that she has just secured admission into the institution after practising for over 15 years as a primary school teacher.
“I have been working as a teacher for 15 years in a private primary school and God has helped me to secure admission with the hope that after my NCE, I can improve the economy of my family, so I cannot afford to lose this chance,” she said.
Dunu Thomas, a factory worker resident at Sabon Gari. He told Weekly Trust that he is from Enugu State, that he has no cause to flee the state. Thomas said, “the problem has not reached the level that would make me to leave Kano. We can only advise the state government to provide adequate security and a lasting solution; and for those who are leaving, that is their personal decision.
“Although I have been receiving calls from my my people back home in Enugu to leave Kano, but I have made it clear to them that I have no reason to leave and they understand with me.”
A motorcycle spare parts dealer at the popular Kofar Ruwa spare parts market in the heart of the metropolis, Mazi Jude, told Weekly Trust, that he has been in the motorcycle spare parts trade since 1992, noting that there is no genuine reason to make him flee the state.
Jude said he is single and his business since its inception till date, has boosted. “If I leave now, anywhere I go to, I will have to start afresh, which is not easy,” he explained.
“By the way, is there anywhere that is safe in this country? I’m more familiar with Kano, so I rather remain here,” he noted further.
Nduka Onyeobalu deals in electronics on the famous Ibrahim Taiwo Road. According to him, majority of the Igbos who fled the state had a prior intention to do so.
“Oour business has been affected, many people would not buy household electronics because of uncertainty. Many from other states have stopped coming.
“For me, I am still watching, but for now I have no reason to leave Kano, but if the situation does not change, I will then consider moving out of Kano to the East or West.”
A Kano-based lawyer, Barrister Tijjani Saleh Minjibir, described the exodus of Igbos as “sad.” He said some of his mates with whom they schooled together in Kano who had left lost their good old time friends.
“It is a setback, no doubt, for those of us who have reasons to mingle with the non indigenes either for academic or economic purposes, but I am hopeful, because, some have began to return. So, I pray normalcy would return,” Barrister Minjibir said.
A non-Igbo Lado Yusuf, who is a commercial motorcyclist who plies the Sabon Gari route, told this reporter that the trade has witnessed a huge decline in patronage.
“I use to transport the children of four Ibo families to and from school every morning. They had all left which is a big loss to my daily achaba income,” Lado stated.
The Chairman of the Pan Igbo group, Ohaneze Ndi igbo, Chief Tobias Idika said “we ask them to send their wives and children home and that the men should stay back and protect their businesses.
“Those who have big business investments in a twinkle of an eye cannot abandon their businesses and flee the town, they have to stay back and ensure they protect their property.”
Weekly Trust gathered that there are female of the Igbo extraction who could not flee due to their social commitments. One of such is the case of a 27–year–old indigene of Imo state.
She said she is engaged to a young man from the South West. “We are working towards walking to the altar in April, though her parents have fled the city, “I cannot dare be far from my man, not at this stage I have reached with him,” she stated.
Eze Ndi Igbo, Kano, Igwe Boniface Ibekwe, in a telephone chat told Weekly Trust, that the Igbo traditional stool in Kano has put in place measures to restore the confidence in Igbos resident in Kano, stating that the palace did not instruct Ndi Igbo to flee from the State, after the bombing incidents that took place in Kano.
“We have established businesses in Kano, we have made friends among our hosts, Kano has become our home. The crisis is a temporary setback which we will get through. We will collaborate with relevant organs to ensure lasting peace in the state instead of fleeing,” he pledged.
Meanwhile, business men in the Northern parts of the country have turned down directive by the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) to return to their ancestral homes in the wake of attack in the region.
An on–line publication, Economic Confidential reported that in Kano, where it met with some Igbo leaders, they have disassociated themselves from the campaign by the Ohaneze Ndigbo of Kano, saying with about a million population of Igbos in the city and investments of over N20 billion, they have no reason to run away.
An Igbo community leader and businessman who has lived in Kano for several years with interest in hotels and electronics but craved for identity protection said that, apart from ignoring the MASSOB’s directive , some of them had cautioned the chairman of Ohaneze in Kano to desist from using the name of Igbos to cause disaffection in Kano state where they had witnessed peacefully co-existence with the local people in the last eight years before the recent attacks by Boko Haram against security agencies.
The Igbo leader said: “There is adequate security provided in the state to protect non-indigenes just as the traditional and religious leaders have assured us of maximum support and protection in the state.”
The leader said: “we have warned the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Kano State Chapter, Chief Tobias Michael Idika to stop using the name of Igbo to create enmity with our hosts and foment troubles for us. It is unfortunate that the chief and MASSOB leaders ignore the huge investment of Igbo business men and women who control large chunk of businesses in Kano ranging from hospitality industry, electronics items, spare parts dealership, transportation business, housing projects, road construction, drugs and medical consumables.
“With more than one million Igbos and our over N20 billion investments in Kano, this is our home away from home. And no one can force us to return home where there lands are scarce and expensive for setting up new businesses.”
The Leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazruike who is struggling by all means to be crowned ‘the new Igbo leader’ after the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, has ordered Igbos in the North to get out and return to their home states in the East following incessant attacks by the Boko Haram in the region.
Recently after a closed door meeting, governors of south-eastern states announced that they had been in constant touch with the various state governments to ensure the security of lives and property of Igbos and that they would continue to dialogue with political and religious leaders as well as security agencies for a peaceful and united country.