Nnewi people lived and invested in Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Jos, Lagos, etc. When the 1966 massacres started, those of them who survived ran back home without being able to take their investments with them. Many got home empty-handed because they had no house or business in Nnewi, which they saw as a “village” then. The logical reasoning before 1966 was: What is the economic sense in investing in my village when I can invest in a city and make quick returns?
The only markets in Nnewi then were the village markets that held once every four days (Eke, Orie, Afọ, and Nkwọ). Foodstuffs were the key items sold at such markets by women.
While the uncertainty in Nigeria persisted between 1966 and 1967, the returnees had no convenient place to do their business. On the advice of the then Governor of Eastern Region, Lt Col Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a son of the soil, the Igwe of Nnewi, Igwe KNO Orizu (Orizu III), led the Nnewi people to clear a part of the dreaded forest of Edo goddess and started the Nkwọ Nnewi Market. Even though different items were sold in the market, the main focus was motor and motorcycle spare parts, which the people felt had a great future and yielded good returns.
After the war, many of the people refused to return to where they lived before. Despite the lack of good road network, those who needed vehicle spare parts travelled to Nnewi to buy them. That led to the growth of the town. Later the people decided to begin the manufacture of different products.
Today, that so-called “village” that was too small for investment before the 1966 crisis has become big enough to attract people from all parts of the world, that a plot of land in Nnewi now costs as high as N200 million in the central business district.
It is a global phenomenon that can be replicated anywhere in the world. UAE (Dubai) turned the desert into a wonder land. Singapore turned the sea into a haven.
If you persevere and build your land by thinking of the greatness of your land rather than immediate personal gain, people will start visiting your land from all corners of the world for one thing or the other. Your land will benefit from it. You and your children will benefit from it. Everybody wins.