The Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi has said that the zone is motivated to purse the 2017 South East Regional Economic Summit with new vigour.
Governor Umahi stated this in Enugu at the weekend during the three-day South-East Economic summit with a theme titled: “Repositioning South-East for Rapid Economic Development.”
According to Umahi, the summit will address the perception of lack of consistency and will bring about the long awaited development of the region economically.
He said, “We have the potential to change our story by coming together as a people. If we begin to imbibe hard work, we will get it right in the south-east. The lessons of the summit would help us to get it right.”
Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi while welcoming the participants stated that the three-day summit was timely, considering the mounting economic challenges in the country.
Ugwuanyi commended the four other governors from the zone for their commitment to the Forum and the unity of purpose.
According to him, “The South East zone needs to be rejuvenated economically in the face of dwindling and unsteady fortunes from oil. Our industries need to be reactivated while new ones are required to jump-start our much needed economic growth as a region. In this way, the internally generated revenue portfolio of the states will be enhanced”.
Ugwuanyi urged industrialists and entrepreneurs from the South East to, as a matter of necessity, invest in the zone for rapid and sustainable economic development.
“I am confident that at the end of this Summit, a roadmap for massive and rapid economic development of the South East Zone would have emerged”, he added.
The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, also commended the South-East Governors for organising the summit, noting that the National Assembly members from the region would complement their efforts by seeking for the passage of the South-East Development Commission.
He said they would avoid the mistake made which aborted the previous bill by engaging members of the National Assembly from other parts of the country in consultations before a fresh bill is presented.
Ekweremadu said, “The South-East Commission Bill failed in the House of Representatives but was passed in the Senate.
“We are believing God, we are going to work with other lawmakers from other parts of the country to make that commission a reality.”
The deputy senate president stressed the need for regional cooperation but expressed regrets that there was no legislative backing to compel the implementation of the resolutions reached.
He said that the Senate was working had to devolve more power from the Exclusive list to the Concurrent list. In his goodwill message, Chief Nnia Nwodo, President, Ohaneze Ndigbo, commended the governors for the event, saying the summit was a phenomenon as it will help in moving the region forward.
”The summit is timely because the zone is faced with serious economic challenges”, he added.
In his keynote address, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa said that the South-East must return to upholding quality education and discipline to fully regain its lost glory.
He noted that the zone lost its glory when it started paying less emphasis on education and discipline but started glorifying the “get-rich-quick-syndrome without principle’’.
The socio-economic critic noted that prior to the independence and the civil war; the socio-economic status of the region was built on a flourishing agro-allied and intellectual capital base; thus, growing more than any other region.
“The problem start with cash-and-carry politicians that pay less importance to education but glorified getting money without labour or principle,’’ he added.
Ohuabunwa, however, said that the condition was redeemable with concerted efforts to revamp education in all ramifications and get every child back to school.
He noted that there must be practical industries to create jobs for the youths to checkmate the growing youth restiveness and hopelessness among them in the region.
“There must be a new grand plan to revival agro-allied businesses through mechanized farming and processing; agricultural extensions; improved seedling; land provision; soil study etc.
“Introduce smart internet and digital cities within states in the zone.
“Introduce leather product clusters and introduce bouquets of incentives for investors to come and invest in the region,’’ he said.
Also, in a keynote address, former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, said that the South-East must wake-up from its slumber and rise to the occasion of funding futuristic progressive projects.
Nnaji, who spoke on the topic: “Reliable and Sustainable Power and Supply in South-East Region’’, said that the amount of power need in the region needed concerted efforts to provide.
“Every other development of our dream in the region depends on power supply and we cannot fold our hands and expect that it will be done by magic or other people.
“It lies on Ndigbo, who knows the import and benefit, to rise and find lasting and futuristic solution since the issue of power is currently at the concurrent list,’’ he added.
Important personalities that graced the occasion include: Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; David Umahi of Ebonyi State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; President General, Ndigbo Lagos, Prof Anya Oko Anya; Chief Executive Officer of Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa, Dr. Greg Mills; Representatives of DFID, Captains of Industry, and many other personalities from different walks of life.
Moses Oyediran, Enugu