In Biology, the green plants are described as the producers in any community because all other living things in that community depend on them directly or indirectly for food.
In Nigerian economy, when one talks of producers, the first line of thought is always directed to the oil-producing parts of the country. The Igbo are people whose land is very rich in oil. They are numbered among the oil producing states of Nigeria, yet it is not crude oil that makes them the proud producers in Nigeria.
The products that gave them a lot of joy and pride are rather technological, which today make up over 70% of goods consumed in Nigeria. Their products are many and they include the following: automobile parts, human wears, cosmetics and toiletries, weapons of war, building materials, electrical materials, electronics, pharmaceuticals products, food and drinks, agricultural products (insecticides and pesticides), entertainment facilities and lots more.
Some years ago, we used to hear some Nigerian described some goods as “Igbo made’. That time such goods were usually despised because the economy was buoyant enough to allow for the importation of anything ranging from toilet papers to air crafts. Because of this, it was not unusual for many of the “Igbo made” producers to produce their goods and give them foreign labels. Today, it is a thing of great joy to see that many of these goods are now being labeled “Made in Nigeria” and they are either used in Nigeria or are exported to other countries.
The Igbo have played a very important role in keeping Nigerians moving in terms of adequate production of automobile products. It is a well known fact that many of the vehicles especially cars being used in Nigeria toady are fairly used cars imported from other countries. Spare parts of these vehicles are not easily available. Most of them would have become useless to their buyers if not for the activities of Igbo spare parts dealers who have studied these parts that they deal on, and have them produced locally to salvage the problem of transportation.
In many cities of Igbo land, it is not strange to call a community by the products they manufacture. Igbo people do well in shoes and leather works. About 80% of shoes, sandals and slippers that are worn in Nigeria today are locally manufactured, especially by the Igbo people. The Igbo man can produce anything provided that the product will help him solve life’s problems. It is a well known fact that the Igbo were refining crude petroleum without refineries during the Nigerian Civil Wars. Also during the civil war, they produced different types of ammunition including the famous “Ogbunigwe” of Biafra.
In terms of building materials, the Igbo people rank highest, as different factories producing different types of building materials, electrical materials, electronics, pharmaceuticals are scattered in its towns and cities. These are as a result of the ingenuity of the Igbo man as a great producer. The one problem that is worth mentioning here is that most of these producers are not trained engineers of technologies, but are just talented and determined. You can agree with me that when these talents are fully harnessed and adequate machinery put in place for them, there would be more contributions from them in terms of development. Nigeria will truly be the real giant of Africa if the average Igbo man is fully developed and harnessed.
The Government of Nigeria should look into the issue and establish technology villages in big cities of Igbo land; settle these Igbo producers in these villages; equip and finance them into real practical researches in their different areas. This will help reduce the increasing unemployment threat in the country. More so, with adequate plans on ground, in no distant time we will start having ‘Igbo made’ motor vehicles, air crafts, ships, and sophisticated equipments in Nigeria. This will save the country the trouble of wholesome importation of everything abroad.