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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Ohanaeze presents catalogue of woes

The much-talked about South-east Economic Summit began yesterday on a shaky note with key industrialists in the region shunning the event, even as Ohanaeze Ndigbo presented myriad of economic challenges starring the zone in the face.

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in his goodwill message, noted that the summit was holding at a time the South-east zone was facing serious economic challenges.

"Our zone has the highest number of unemployed graduates in the country in spite of being the best zone in the quality of secondary school leavers. Our zone has the worse road infrastructure in the federation. Our zone is allocated only nine per cent of all nationally generated power and yet Anambra State competes with Lagos State in the growth of small industries and the lower poverty rate index," Nwodo pointed out.

He told the gathering, mostly representatives from the states in the South- east who accompanied their governors to the summit, that the old Eastern region was the first region to build an iron and steel complex, which factory, he said, is dead today.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo boss noted that the Igbo enterprising spirit is phenomenal, which evidence could be seen in Igbo entrepreneurs taking the centre stage in all economic endeavours.

He, therefore, urged the organizers of the summit to "address the issues of power, entrepreneurship, sources of capital, infrastructural support, technical training and taxation that will lead to economic growth in the zone."

Also, the host governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in his welcome address, said that he was happy the summit was being staged, saying that it would complement the gains of the first Enugu State Economic Summit and Investment Forum held a year ago.

He said that the theme of the summit: 'Re-positioning the South-east region for rapid economic development' was apt, as "this is a period of mounting economic challenges in the region."

The governor said that industries in the region needed to be reactivated and new ones jump-started. This is just as he canvassed that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the states of the zone be enhanced.

Ugwuanyi also called on the industrialists from the region to think home and invest in the South-east zone for rapid economic development.

Also speaking, the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, thanked the governors for putting together the summit, even as he renewed the call for restructuring of the country.

He noted that most of the issues to be discussed that affect the economic development of the region like power are on the exclusive list that is the prerogative of the Federal Government.

He, therefore, said that there must be devolution of powers to overcome the challenges hampering the development of the region, asking "how do we interpret a country where we have zones that are not backed by any law?"

Ekweremadu agreed that the development of the South-east is the right key to play, as the Igbo have many enterprising people, saying "if we work together, we can develop a roadmap that will help Nigeria." He, therefore, urged participants at the summit to look for ways to address the observed challenges.

The South-east Governors' Forum Chairman and Ebonyi State governor, Chief Dave Umahi, who could not make his opening remarks because he came late, apologized that he was making preparations for President Muhammadu Buhari's visit to the state on Tuesday.

He thanked members of the National Assembly from the region and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo for accepting to work together with the South-east Governors' Forum.

Other dignitaries that attended the summit are the founding director of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Prof Anya O. Anya, who is the chairman of the summit; former Power Minister, Prof Barth Nnaji; Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; Chairman of the Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, Amb. Lawrence Agubuzo;  Hon. Dennis Amadi of the House of Representatives, Enugu State President of Ohanaeze Nd
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