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The network of Igbo individuals worldwide, known as Igbonine in Diaspora, called upon President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday to task South-East governors with partnering or leasing dormant industries in the region for revitalization.
Speaking to reporters in Enugu, Prof. Marcel Okechukwu Ezenwoye, the group’s president, connected the surge in crimes in the South East to youth unemployment.
He criticized the lack of determination among the concerned governors to industrialize the region, highlighting the need to replicate the developmental era of Dr. M.I. Okpara, the former Premier of Eastern Region. The states involved are Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo.
Ezenwoye outlined the group’s mission to secure investments for the revival of affected industries and indicated their willingness to establish a memorandum of understanding with governments and stakeholders. The objective is to ensure the operationalization of these industries in the broader interest.
According to him, ‘President Tinubu can make this a reality by spearheading this deal as the father of the nation. All vibrant economies of the world are driven by the private sector. In this case, Ndigbo in the diaspora want to acquire these moribund industries and transform them for optimal use. Some of them would be converted to other uses to have immediate and everlasting benefits to the country at large.’
‘Some of them can be turned into pharmaceutical industries for the production of alternative drugs that are more organic and natural, and would not be harmful to our people. Presently, some multi-national drug manufacturing industries are leaving Nigeria. We need to re-strategise as a nation to be self-sustaining.’
‘We are also looking at developing the capacities to produce organic fertilizers. We need to research into what the region has comparative advantages on, and establish a strong economic base for development. We have our sons and daughters in different parts of the world willing to invest in Igboland. Ndigbo are highly innovative, and simply need a fertile ground to operate.’
‘Our initiation can only be realised if our political leaders show commitments and authorise the leasing or partnering with conglomerates to return these moribund industries and other establishments to life. The result will be the birth of Japan of Africa in South East.’
In alignment with the Akuluouno philosophy, Ezenwoye advocated for the promotion of investments by Igbo investors, both within the country and abroad. He asserted that this strategy would amplify the capacity of Ndigbo to play a substantial role in the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the international economy.
He said, ‘We have to re-discover our potentials. We have youths that are producing mobile devices, computers, laptops, vehicles, mention them. We need to encourage them to embark on mass production of the devices to make Igbo land a hub for educational tourism. The universities in Igbo land should be consistent with qualitative education through adoption of pragmatic curriculums.’
We also want to bring agriculture to its speed in Igbo land. What has happened to the economic blueprint that Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe initiated, and was fully implemented by Dr MI Okpara? We can revive the Okpara palm tree plantations and roll out new ones for the development of our region. The Igbo in the diaspora are willing to come in with their technical knowhow.’
Ezenwoye mentioned some of the moribund industries to include Nigercem at Nkalagu; Aba Textile Mills in Abia State; Standard Shoe Factory, Owerri, Imo State; Nigergas, Nigersteel Company, Glass Industry, Aba; Imo Rubber Nigeria Limited, Resin and Paints Industry, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State; Avutu Poultry, Obowo, Imo State; Paper Packaging Industry in Owere-Ebiri, Orlu, Imo State, and Modern Ceramics, Umuahia, Abia State.
He commended Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State for embarking on the dredging of Imo River for water transportation, and called on other South-East governors to partner with him ‘because the project will open up the region for water transportation which will reduce the cost of importing goods, enhance export of local goods, and solve problems attendant to conveying goods from Lagos to the Eastern parts of the country’.
He equally called for the emulation of Gov Charles Soludo of Anambra State in encouraging made-in-Nigeria goods: ‘Gov Soludo has shown his confidence in locally made products through practical examples and advocacy. He is the only governor that uses Innoson vehicles optimally. He also wears our native ankara clothes. It is part of what we advocate.’