South East of Nigeria has made significant contributions to the growth of the Nigerian economy and without which the giant status the country enjoys today would not have been complete. The South East is populated by the Igbo tribes of Nigeria found dominantly in the five eastern states that was part of the old Eastern Region.
Interestingly and historically, the former Eastern Nigeria was reckoned in the 50’s as the fastest growing economy in the world.
That status it would be recalled was truncated by the effects of the three years fratricidal civil war which ruins brought the region to its knees. However, due to some of the sterling qualities of the people it was able to put the experience behind it and has grown the region to such an enviable height that it has become the envy of other ethnic groups. In terms of driving commerce in this country the Igbos are unrivalled, hardworking, intelligent and shrewd.
In spite of the tremendous achievements it has recorded so far the region remains marginalized in almost everything with respect to receiving its due from the federal government. The cry of marginalization has remained unheeded leading some young men who feel terribly the impact of exclusion and unemployment to agitate for a separatist nation while many agitate for restructuring to allow it some measure of independence.
The Igbos feel that their potentials for development has been limited by the lack of freedom and denial of the necessary werewithal to explore the huge endowments in both human and material resources that abound within its enclave. This is provocative and underlies the need for the agitations by a segment of the youths and which efforts have claimed precious lives following confrontations by the authorities.
It is in the light of the above that various agenda or strategies have been canvassed at different fora by various groups to seek alternative measures to achieve the desired result by stemming the senseless and wanton loss of lives. News Echo in the light of the recent Enugu killings where 21 IPOB boys were reportedly killed wishes to drum up the need for the leaders in the region to exercise alternative means of spiking up development within the region devoid of confrontation.
“Ala Igbo” is still resourced with all the natural factors that propelled it to become the fastest growing economy then. The palm trees, cassavas etc are still there. If they could excel at a time when sophistication in education and technology was not there they can do better now. All that is required is the integrity and the political will of the leaders to re-launch and improve on the strategies utilized by the leaders then.
The commonness of culture, language and social traits, tenacity and other behavioral factors are good ingredients that can fertilize any project embarked upon jointly by the governors. The pulling of their resources, supported by Diaspora funding and support, energized by world class intelligentsia and technocrats and leveraging and other institutional supports can birth good ventures that can turn around the region. We have seen good examples in Catalonia in Spain.
The South East is bigger than the economy of many countries in the world. It can recreate itself to top notch status. The security outfit called “Amotekun” fashioned by the Odu’a states is a testimony that regional enterprise can function. They can use the law courts to secure some of the issues that can become subject of dispute or ward off attempts by any group to frustrate the efforts.
The individual successes recorded by Igbo sons and daughters are a strong inspiration that if related attempts are a made at group levels could yield greater dividend. The Nnewi model could be replicated in other parts of Igbo land not just along the line of motor parts but in other products. The economic strength of Aba, Nnewi, Onitsha etc could be leveraged upon to develop the region.
The argument holds that the governors in the SouthEast have not demonstrated sufficient appetite to grow the region and are accused of demonstrating more loyalty to the northern overlords who they politically owe their loyalty. If they are not forthcoming in the initiative, other groups can initiate action and get their buy in and their interest negotiated. What is key is the overall interest of the average Igbo man. “Ala Igbo” can be developed or transformed to compete with other economies of the world. We have all it takes.
Posterity will never forgive us if there are things we can do now to secure their future and fail to do so because what mattered was our selfish interest at the time. The additional benefit of this venture is building the consciousness of the Igbos to key into the philosophy of ‘thinking home’ (aku ruo ulo). Most of the Igbo sons and daughters have their wealth and resources risked in other lands.
The effort will no doubt spike the desire to bring the wealth home. There is no better time to bond and integrate than now. The ball is in our court.