From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Former Senate president, Pius Anyim, has called on current and incoming governors of South East states to emulate the late premier of the defunct Eastern Region, Michael Okpara, and evolve policies that would transform and develop the region.
This, he said, they should, like Okpara, do through industrialisation and infrastructure development of their various states.
Anyim, former secretary to the government of the federation, who spoke in Enugu at a two-day second Eastern Nigeria Investment Summit, also urged Igbo sons and daughters to see the ultimate need to invest in the five states of the zone for further development of Igboland.
Delivering his paper on the theme: “Ibu Anyi Danda,” meaning, ‘the magic of togetherness and common purpose’, Anyim expressed the need for the governors and the citizenry to come together to invest and develop the region.
He said: “Unity of purpose with shared motivation, benefit and mutual survival would offer us opportunity to pull our resources, talents and ideas together for the benefit of the region.”
He said Okpara brought so many transformation and development to the region in the first republic through industrialisation and infrastructure.
According to him, on assumption of office in 1960, Okpara was confronted with the challenge of uplifting the living standard of the people but with the support and collaboration of stakeholders in the region, he (Okpara) was able to lift the plight of people through his government’s growth plan.
He said: “At 39, he was able to invest in critical areas such as human capital development, industrialisation, entrepreneurship, agriculture and others, to stimulate the entire region.
“He attracted participation of the private sector and divest government interest to private sector and the region was rated the fastest developing economy in the world.”
Anyim, who said South East governments should provide industries and infrastructure to develop the region, regretted that in spite of the federal allocation to states, governments in the region failed to harness the economic opportunities of the area.
He recalled that visionary leaders such as Jim Nwobodo and Sam Mbakwe did wonders in developing old Anambra and old Imo states respectively through the provision of infrastructure and the setting up of industries.
Investors, according to him, would have confidence if the governments took the first step of providing insurance policy, protection, support and infrastructure to make their investment succeed.
To stop Ndigbo from abandoning their home to develop other places, Anyim stressed that “leadership must create environment that would complement the efforts of others.
“This complement is more practical in technological businesses. If you support me and I support you, we complement each other and together we can do anything.”
He, however, appealed to Igbo to develop their region by investing in it while the governments should provide conducive environment and infrastructure for the South East to thrive.
Chairman of the Summit Planning Committee and President, Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Jasper Nduagwuike, in his address explained that the event was aimed at exposition of the possibilities existing in the eastern region and how to harness same to better the lots of the people.
Nduagwuike added that the theme sought to make the Igbo resilient and understand that nothing was impossible if they were able to harness all the resources at their disposal.
He said: “Ibu Anyi Danda was the Igbo people of the 1970s, who drew strength from one another and were able to recover from the 30-month civil war to build what we have today. It is the coalition of different artisans in Aba who came together to produce the best of clothes and shoes.”
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From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu