Nigeria is blessed with rich heritage, culture and tradition that has been preserved by every tribe. Located in western Africa, Nigeria has the largest economy and population in Africa; no wonder they are called the giant of Africa.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh-most populous country in the world, with an estimated population of 211 million. Its economy is the largest in Africa, the 27th-largest in the world by nominal GDP, and 25th-largest by PPP. Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, owing to its large population and economy and is considered to be an emerging market by the World Bank. It is a regional power in Africa, a middle power in international affairs, and is an emerging global power. However, the country ranks very low in the Human Development Index and remains one of the most corrupt nations in the world.
Nigeria is the richest and most populous country in Africa. The country’s large population of over 211 million is a likely contributor to its large GDP. Nigeria is a middle-income, mixed economy and emerging market with growing financial, service, communications, and technology sectors.
Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.51%(year-on-year) in real terms in the first quarter of 2021, marking two consecutive quarters of growth following the negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020.
It is difficult to say which tribe is the richest as they are all successful and there is no reliable statistical data to refer to. Also, the question of wealth is deeper than the capitalist billionaire-density image promoted by Forbes. Also, since only 3 tribes (Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba) carry most of the Nigerian population, they easily dwarf other wealthy ethnicities. Let’s examine them to get a better understanding of their wealth.
- YORUBA: Many dollar billionaires have been produced by the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria with Dangote (a Hausa man) credited as the richest of them all. However, when looking at the overall population, Yorubas seem to have more wealthy people (in the Western sense) than other tribes. This is especially due to the academic successes, political gains and strategic trading advantage (Lagos is Yorubaland) that they enjoy.
Three of the five richest Nigerians are Yorubas and so is the richest black woman in the world. Wole Soyinka, the Nobel prize winner and founding father of Nigeria’s first youth secret cult (I bet you didn’t know that), Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, the political godfather, celebrities like Wizkid: Africa’s biggest music act, Davido, Olamide; internationally recognized figures like Afe Babalola and many others are all Yorubas. Their notable business creations include Conoil, Globacom, Bet9ja, etc. all of which have tremendously transformed the business and economic landscape of Nigeria. Lagos, a Yoruba state (although with a more diluted populace) has the highest density of wealth in Nigeria and that was even before it became an oil producing state! Yorubas lead the pack in academic prowess (no other comes close) and trail the Hausas in political dominance. All these point to the amount of wealth they control.
- IGBO: The Igbos are well known for their business acumen. I strongly believe that if Biafra (IPOB) should successfully breakout, its economy would end up rivalling that of Nigeria. I don’t support Biafra’s secession nonetheless for deeper reasons. In spite of their relative relegation, Igbos are generally less impoverished than other major tribes. You are more likely to find a Hausa gateman, Ibibio houseboy, and Yoruba menial worker than you would find an Igboman in any of these jobs. You’d rather find them in the market trading. Let’s examine some of their achievements.
They’ve produced notable people such as iconic writers Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda, and philanthropist Tony Elumelu. Innosson Motors is the first indigenous car manufacturer in Nigeria and is owned by an Igbo billionaire. Onitsha, an Igbo city across River Niger from Asaba, is a renowned trading hub in Nigeria. Aba, another Igbo city, is like the China of Nigeria in terms of consumer goods production. Not even Lagos has that title. Enugu, Nnewi, etc. are other testimonies to the economic potential of the Ndigbo (Igbo nation). Thus, collectively, the Igbos command a great deal of wealth. Too bad the Nigerian government is messed up!
- HAUSA: Despite covering half of Nigeria’s land area, Hausaland has barely anything to offer economically except in agriculture. Nevertheless, the Hausas have created a name for themselves especially through their successful domination of Nigerian politics. Virtually all top government positions including those overseeing southern-based resources are occupied by Hausa men. Talk of NNPC (manages Nigeria’s oil), NCC (manages telecoms), EFCC (investigates economic crimes), the military arms (Airforce, Army and Navy), NTA (government media) and all other sectors of the economy; they’re Hausa-controlled. Many Yoruba ‘moneymen’ got their wealth through uncanny relationships with Hausa politicians notably Ex-head of state Gen Ibrahim Babangida. The Hausas gained this political advantage after the British handed over in a very flawed exchange.
Testimony to the fact that the Hausa elite cheated their way to power is evident in the dilapidated state of their settlements and the overall academic, business and social inferiority of the Hausa populace. They have the highest concentration of illiterates, beggars and corrupt officials in the country. Not that Hausas are inherently bad (they are culturally one of the kindest people you can come across) but their elites have made a bad name for themselves. The impoverished youths end up engaging in religious and ethnic clashes and crises of abominable proportions (think Boko Haram and the Jos crises).
This begs the question: when talking about riches, does illicit wealth count? If it does then the Hausas are the richest tribe in Nigeria! Probably only Dangote and Danjuma save the face of the Hausa tribe.
Even More Research
Western Nigeria is consumerist economically and has power of demand, the economic dynamic in Nigeria is that the East supplies the West with imports or locally made materials. Economic activities exist in form of unions, the market woman selling fish or tomatoes is a member of at least one Union or Cooperative.
The East is Nigeria’s production hub for locally made goods. Eastern economic interests are diversified and the end game is monopoly for most business men. This creates cut throat type of competition between business entities. Traditionally, Eastern Nigerians (Igbos as a case study) have been ruled by a plutocratic loose republic where upward social mobility is achieved through asset acquisition, in middle ages Igboland, different lineages competed in growing yams. So Eastern Nigerians are more competitive. I cannot give exact statistics but it appears 7 out of 10 Igbo households have at least one family oriented source of income. In recent years, Igbo plutocrats have been known to hijack the financial structure of political parties.
Northern Nigerians derive their wealth from agriculture, joinery, fabric, leather whose markets are traditionally heavily influenced by a religious, autocratic system of government which was at the end of the 19th century the largest exporter of slaves in the sub-Sahara. The result is much slower upward social mobility, the perceived form of self-actualization carries a more religious undertone.
What you can say is that some Nigerian ethnicities have a much more developed economy, higher literacy rates, larger proportion of univeraity graduates and professionals and a higher standard of living than others. Generally Southern Nigeria is more prosperous and developed than the central and northern parts of the country. This is partly historical due to access to and the embracing of western style education, higher levels of urbanisation, higher educational attainment and high literacy rates and a lower birth rate. Within this context are the different ethnicities of the south. The southwest home to the Yoruba ethnicity which includes Lagos is considered the most developed part of Nigeria and the most urbanised with 75% of Yoruba living in Large cities. But Western Nigeria is no longer solely affiliated to Yorubas alone as many other ethnicities from the south and everywhere else have settled in the south west. Lagos itself has a majority non indigenous population which means most of its inhabitants are non Lagos indigenes. Generally prosperity in Western Nigeria is not linked to Yorubas alone but to millions of other Nigerians who now call it home. Delta and Rivers states are considered the next most wealthiest states after lagos and that’s down to oil and gas. Delta state also has one of the highest literacy rates in the country. Like Western Nigeria the Delta area developed a mercantile trading economy that has been in existence for over 500 years, all this plus an early adoption of Western values and education meant that the Delta area and Delta state had a vantage point in socio-economic terms and based on Western Indices of development. The Itsekiris, Urhobos, and Delta Igbos are among the most prosperous ethnic groups in the country.
The Igbos of the Eastern states of Nigeria are known to be very enterprising, achievement oriented and business minded. Unfortunately Igboland is very densely populated and the effects of overpopulation, deforestation and erosion has meant that many Igbos have had to seek their fortunes elsewhere in Lagos, Ibadan and all across Nigeria and Africa. With 25million Igbos crammed into 13,500 square miles compared to 27 million yorubas in 35,000 square miles of Yorubaland one can see the complexity of issues that the Igbo ethnicity faces within Nigeria’s geo-polity. Nevertheless they are among Nigeria’s most resourceful, industrious and talented groups even if they are often excluded from power and active contribution at central government level due to effects of the Biafran war. But the Igbos have risen above all of that and forged a strong vibrant ethnicity.
Not long ago most southern Nigerians would have scoffed at the Effik and Ibibios of Cross River state and Akwaibom – speaking a Central African bantoid languages that didn’t seem to fit in with the very closely knit southern Nigerian Defoid languages languages like Igbo and Yoruba, they were often viewed as a marginal group despite their long history at the centre of the Nigerian story. Until recently both states trudged along with little mineral resources or industry to sustain but with the the development of oil and gas and tourism along with very good governance the Effiks and Ibibios are increasingly prosperous and are starting to play a more central role in Nigeria and they deserve to because at nearly 7 million strong they are the third largest ethnicity in southern Nigeria and 5th after the Fulanis i.e. in Nigeria as a whole. They are no longer viewed as the tribes providing good value house helps.
The Ijaws and other people’s of Rivers and Bayelsa state are among the oldest ethnicities in Nigeria. In fact the Ijaws are the sole surviving ethnicity of what may have comprised the aboriginal population of southern and central Nigeria before the arrival of the Yoruba, Igbos and Edos thousands of years ago. Sadly ongoing sabotaging of oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta by Ijaw militants fighting for more access to its oil wealth and if possible an indeoendent country has wrought untold damage on the Niger Delta eco system and destroyed their traditional livelihood of fishing and rice farming. It hasn’t helped that BP and other companies have contributed to this mess. The economy of the Niger Delta and it’s fragile eco system may have been damaged beyond repair and all that is left is oil and gas extraction and polluted creeks. There is very little development outside port Harcourt. Rivers and Bayelsa have often lagged behind the rest of southern Nigeria in the indices of economic development especially in education and health terms and one would have hoped oil and gas wealth would bring much needed development to the area but that hasn’t happened. Just consider what happened to Ken Saro Wiwa and his campaign for Ogoniland.
Northern Nigeria is ruled by the Hausa-Fulani Caliphate and wealth is distributed on a feudal basis. Most Hausa Fulanis are Talakawas or working class as defined by the region’s conservative Islamic social structure. their society is organised into a number of Emirates whose leaders form the ruling classes and provide Northern Nigeria”s professional and administrative leadership. Let us just say Northern Nigerian wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few aristocratic families, the clergy and ex military generals. Development in the North is touch and go. Kano and Kaduna are modern industrial cities but a lot of the North’s economy is in the hands of a handful of Lebanese and Syrian families who control most of the industry, hospitality and commerce along with southern Nigerian small businesses. Suffice it to say that not everyone from the North is Hausa Fulani or Moslem. There are Kanuris, Nupes, Yoruba, Gwaris , Tivs, Igalas, Idomas, Jukuns, Ebira and Baribas but all these groups continue to be overshaddowed by the North’s Hausa-Fulani hegemony and this sometimes makes it difficult to see the trees from the woods in Northern Nigeria in terms of the region’s overall socio-economic development and the ability of non Hausa -Fulani ethnic groups to assert their own independent identities.
Going further, in Nigeria, there are 5 – 6 classes of rich people:
- The Politicians (political class) & Politically Assisted Persons
- The Genuine Businessmen and Industrialists
- The professional working class – those working & earning fat salaries
- The hustlers – internet scammers, drug peddlers, human traffickers,
- The rich diasporas – Nigerians living. working & earning fat pay legally abroad
- The entertainers – music stars, movie stars, sportsmen, etc
Now, before you can answer this question correctly, you must consider these class of rich Nigerians, and the number of each tribe that makes up the majority of these various class of rich Nigerians.
When you come to number 1 – Rich Politicians/Politically Assisted Persons, the Hausa-Fulani have more of this class of rich people, and the reason is obvious; they have been in political power since Nigeria got independence in 1960 more than any other tribe. After the Hausa-Fulani comes the Yoruba tribe, and then the Igbo tribe.
Genuine Businessmen & Industrialists – under this class, I think the Igbo tribe have a majority, followed by the Yorubas, and the Hausa-Fulani.
The Professional Working Class – here, the Yoruba tribe have the majority, followed by the Igbo tribe, and the Ijaw-Urhobo tribe.
The Hustlers – under this class, the Igbos have the majority, followed by the Binis and the Yorubas, and then other tribes
The Rich Diasporas – The Igbo tribe also take the majority for obvious reason; after the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1969, which was like a war between the Igbo tribe and the rest of Nigerian tribes, which ended in favour of the rest of Nigerian tribes, and pushed Igbos to the wall because after the war ended, Igbos were left with nothing to start life with, and even got shortchanged by the Hausa-Fulani/Yoruba controlled federal government in the after-war monetary, financial policies, which made Igbos to start migrating to almost anywhere possible in search of greener pastures, and this paid them off at the long run, as they are now found in almost every part of the world succeeding in various human field.
After Igbos comes the Yoruba and Bini tribes.
The Entertainers – Yorubas have the highest number of rich entertainers in Nigeria, followed by the Igbo tribe, and then other tribes.
When you put all these figures together, you will then realize that when it comes to total or highest number of rich people, Igbo is the richest Nigerian tribe, followed by the Yoruba, and then Hausa-Fulani and the Ijaw-Uhrobos.
But when you want to count the tribe with the richest person as in who has the highest quantified wealth, then it is the Hausa-Fulani and followed by the Yoruba tribe and then Igbo. But by population of rich Nigerians, Igbos are the richest. I stand to be corrected but if one is honest, the indices is there to prove this fact.
No doubt the Hausas have the highest GDP in Nigeria but putting them as the richest region is like saying India is richer than Switzerland because they have more billioners, that’s lay man assessment.
The richest region in Nigeria is the southeast region because they have the highest GDP per capita, also they have far less youth unemployment in Nigeria despite being marginalised. They produced the highest local content and manufacturing and has the highest diaspora community across the globe. Most of their Diasporas are engage in businesses and wealth creation even competing with their host communities like in South African compared to Yoruba Diasporas who are only interested in making 5.0 CGPA in irrelevant disciplines.
The northern region can’t be the richest because they have the highest street beggers in Africa numbering up to 10 million. Imaging having as many beggars as the population of Sweden, definitely the north can’t be the richest region.
Don’t take this as tribal bias. I have nothing against any tribe. 1% bad people should not be used to judge the 99% good people even if the 1% are most influential. Back to the question, it is up to you our fans here on Uzomedia TV to decide which tribe is richest based on the information provided.
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