Success Of Wealth And Values - Sylvester Uzoama Speaks On Wealth And Values

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According to the author - I consider the Igbo race very much an admired race. The Igbo man is easily characterized as one who is very industrious, possesses extensive business acumen and has the ability to bring success where others have dared and failed. His intellectual abilities are without a doubt either educated or uneducated. His learning ability is also very fast and comprehensive; enough to even exceed the source of the knowledge. The Igbo race is even a regular topic for most comedians who usually have one or two comments which basically restate the Igbo man’s industrious nature. You tend to hear jokes which usually conclude by stating the business vibrancy of the Igbo man/woman.
Sometimes even, such jokes are wrapped in possibly overstated comments like ‘Igbo people like money’, to which my answer is: who no like money? It is also common to postulate that if there is no Igbo man in any community, then that community has absolutely no commercial relevance. In other words, the Igbo man is found in almost any part of the world as a result of his adventurous and even daring quest to achieve business success. If there’s an Eldorado, an Igbo man lives there.

By and large, it is quite true that everybody strives for success in all their endeavours and the common denominator for measuring success nowadays has now been streamlined to money only. The richer you are, the more successful you are adjudged to be. This is the major reason why there seems to be a mad rush to make money at any expense just to be able to wear the toga of success and gain the much needed mental elevation bestowed upon one by the perception seemingly derived from others around you that you’re a success. The major problem is that this industrious character of the Igbo man seems to have also allowed for wealth accumulation without values to become an acceptable measure of success as well. All monies now seem acceptable irrespective of your means of livelihood. The problem, as I see it, is that we may be celebrating a new phase of ‘successes’ that we need to call to question. We have a plethora of drug-related business barons who have made their business nests in other countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Dubai, Thailand, China and more. Asides the drug industry, we also have the fake goods industry. This cuts across food, drinks, electricals, pharmaceuticals and others. These fake goods are basically packaged to look exactly like the original items and sold to unsuspecting buyers as the real deal. Yet, we seem to close our eyes to the knowledge of these and simply celebrate their ‘evidence of hard work’

Why have I singled out these two particular areas? Because it is undoubtedly true that the Igbo race has the highest amount of perpetrators in these nefarious activities in Nigeria. A large chunk of those convicted and/or hanged in Malaysia and other far-east countries are Igbos. A large quota of fake goods (food and pharmaceuticals especially) are traced to businesses owned by Igbos. There is a disturbing trend here that seems to be festering without any cause for concern. What even makes it more complicated for the society is the ‘robin-hood’ approach adopted by most of the perpetrators. For benefit of those who may not be familiar, the robin-hood theory is defined as societal acceptance of those who give to the needy of the society from what they might have stolen from the same society. In most of our communities, there seems to be people in need and living in poverty in the most humble sense of it. As a result, any type of money source seems celebrated as long as a piece of the loot reaches us directly or indirectly. Once we benefit from the largesse, we are usually obliged to be grateful. Once grateful, it becomes difficult to question the benefactor for fear of losing a stream of future favours.

A few goodwill activities embarked upon to launder the image of such people within the society also adds to the difficulty in condemning this trend of ‘successes’. Scholarship scheme in the village, bags of rice to widows or family members, new house built, new car, church harvest donation. Usually, one or combinations of the deeds above seem to help to soften the outlook of such individuals into acceptable specimens of the society. It needs to be addressed.

The issue at hand has two sides to it – the society who bestows the feeling of success on people and the individual who strives to seek the perception of success from the people around him. We need to review the model by which success is classified. Values must be returned to the focal point of money-making in order for ones means to become acceptable and recognized by the society. I personally believe the society has greater role to play in ensuring that the bad examples do not infiltrate the psyche of the community and become acceptable ambassadors of the society. As a result, there ought to be restrain in recognizing or celebrating such people within any community in Igboland. If such can be adopted, it will help to stem the tide of this malaise and provide some much needed sanity. The church needs to speak against it. The community needs to speak more about it and the collective resolve to reject it. The family should help to denounce the activities of their wards into such activities.

The sad truth is that this rush for success by achieving monetary wealth without recourse to values is beginning to tear down the moral fibre of the society beyond everyone’s wildest imagination. The argument is usually that everybody will face the consequences of their action and so should know what to do and what not to do. As much as I agree, I want to quickly note that the acceptability derived from people around you has an important role in what you do. If people around you accept dirty hands, you are likely to feel un-obliged to wash your hands. It then becomes absolutely necessary for the society to sit up and discuss more on these and how to address them. Most individuals will definitely adjust their ways or totally stay away once they realise there is no possibility of them gaining acceptance based on some illicit choices of their.

The society cannot survive without maintaining its values. Money making is good but not at the expense of values. Values of hard work, humanity, respect for the law and even the values of our faith as Christians must regularly be emphasised; especially to the youth who are foremost affected by the lure of this new short-cut to riches. If not, our youths will gradually begin to believe that hard work can be short-circuited. We begin to overlook stigma of certain actions as long as the money is made. However, it is only a matter of time that the reputation of this unguarded chase will envelope the perception of outsiders about the Igbo race. There are certain countries you go to and they seem to simply identify Igbos as rogues. This actually becomes the default status you are given until you’re able to prove your innocence. It sure has its negative backward integration resultants. Visa procedure becomes harder to some destinations as long as you’re of Igbo extraction. Your profile becomes kept on high alert for related crimes in your country of abode. Visitors of Igbo extraction even tend to refuse to associate with fellow Igbos in those countries for fear of lack of knowledge of their true activities in the country they live in. A simple case is the outlook of a Nigerian lady of Edo/Benin extraction in Italy. It can never be pleasant.

We need to face up with this menace as it affects the Igbo race. We need to stop celebrating success derived from questionable sources. How do we intend to address this? We need to ask questions? We simply need to make more noise about it in every forum that has an outreach. It is not ethical to celebrate a drug baron or a fake drink importer simply because he has money. We are destroying the mindset of the on-looking youth. We have simply given them tacit approval to embark on their own attempts at such.

While I do not possess all the answers to this issue, it is my candid opinion that this be mentioned loud so that we, as a society can know and understand the role we play in this menace eroding away at our hard-earned status around the world.

I won’t finish this write up without restating my recognition of numerous good, well-meaning, law abiding, industrious, trailblazing, commendable, exemplary and iconic Igbo people in almost of facets of life across the world and across all age grades. In fact there are far more known for good than those known for nefarious activities. However, the activities of a negative few seem to become the label which everyone may be identified by if we don’t rise to condemn such within our society.


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