Owerri: The Governors of the South-East on Thursday converged on Owerri for a two-day summit to X-ray and recommend enduring solutions to the existential challenges of insecurity and economic disruptions facing the zone.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five governors took turns to give their perspectives on the consequences of the growing insecurity on the once strong and progressive economy of the defunct Eastern region.
(Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State in a warm handshake with his Imo State counterpart, Governor Hope Uzodimma at the South-East Economic and Security Summit in Owerri, on Thursday.)
The theme of the summit was “South East Beyond 2023, Time for a Reset.”
The Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, underscored the need for greater unity and synergy among the five states in addressing insecurity and declining economic fortunes of the region.
Uzodimma, who is the Imo Governor, said the sustainability and functional deployment of the micro Igbo kindred spirit and macro Igbo republican spirit thrives in a private sector-driven initiative.
He stressed the need for the Igbo private sector to support the Ohaneze Ndigbo to galvanise the South East people into one united body that speaks with one voice.
The governor called for routine engagement of the private sector and the public sector to collectively redefine the Igbo agenda.
“A special forum should be established for all political office holders in the South East to meet at least twice a year to exchange ideas and form synergy on Igbo matters.
“In ensuring a renaissance of the Igbo unity and development, I believe the place to start is be addressing the insecurity challenges in our land.
“We must rise from this summit on a clear road map to ensure that Igbo are not interrupted in their legitimate quests to make ends meets with the sit at home madness,” Uzodimma said.
The South East Governors’ Forum chairman, who maintained that the region was part of the Nigerian project, expressed confidence that a president of Igbo extraction will emerge some day.
He called for the establishment of South East Orient Technology Unit to serve as a hub for translating research findings into new products.
He also called for the establishment of South East Commodity board to boost agriculture and commerce in the region.
He noted that the dredging of the Oguta Lake into the Atlantic Ocean was also geared towards boosting the economy of the region.
In his remark, Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra, expressed the “unwavering and unalloyed commitment of the governors of the region to the South East agenda.”
Soludo underscored the need for a 100-year plan for the region and a homeland consciousness of self-believe to executive the plan.
The Anambra governor expressed the readiness of the South East to do business, but highlighted the need for partnership with the rest of the country, diaspora and the international community.
“As an itinerant people who are everywhere, we cannot afford to be an intolerant people. We cannot afford to be provincial.
“We must think home to build a livable and prosperous homeland,” Soludo stated.
In his speech, Gov. Alex Otti of Abia, said the issues of security and economy were critical to the survival of the Igbo people.
Otti said solving the problems of the region must go beyond trading blames and pointing accusing fingers at others but required collective involvement of all stakeholders.
The governor stressed the need to open window of engagement with youths, ensure for justice in communities, stop the exploitation of the people by those in power, and ensure freedom for every individual.
“As political leaders, we must set the pace by identifying investment opportunities in our domain and commit adequate public resources to motivate private investors.
“Leaders must create enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the South East. Where necessary, government must intervene in businesses,” he added.
Also speaking, Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State, said the goal of securing the South East does not really depend on one state as a single unit but requires a common strategy and operational plan.
Mbah called for the setting up of a command and control center common to the entire South East states to tackle the problem of insecurity.
He also stressed the need to consider the non-kinetic approach of dealing with insecurity.
According to him, some of our youths are being misled into believing that they are fighting a just cause.
“We need to make our youths see the folly in their misguided actions,” he stated.
Mbah urged leaders of the zone to deal with the root causes of insecurity by tackling unemployment and poverty in the region.
He further called for the integration of the region into a common market to attract large investment.
Gov. Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi, represented by his deputy, Mrs Patricia Onyemaechi, emphasised the need for women to play vital roles in moulding youths in order to curb social vices.
“The women are ready to take this cause and we will go back home to talk our children out from wrong track to the rightful one.
“All we need in the South East is to believe in ourselves and harness all the wisdom in the region,” he said.
In his speech, the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, the apex Igbo cultural group, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu commended the South East governors led by Uzodimma for organising the summit.
“Ohaneze will be willing to have this event as one of the annual events in the Igbo calendar,” he said.
Iwuanyanwu, who expressed sadness over the increased bloodshed in the region, urged those aggrieved to sheath their swords.
He urged the South East governors to apply the non-kenetic approach in solving the insecurity issues, saying “I don’t feel happy losing the lives of my children.”
He appealed to the Federal Government to support the efforts of the South East governors in their quest to engage youths in the region through skills training, empowerment and job creation.
Iwuanyanwu also commended the Federal Government for the dredging of Oguta Lake which Uzodimma initiated. (Flowerbudnews)
According to him, many Igbo people are interested in dredging Azummili, Ihiala and Okija Lake for possible seaports.