The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Saturday took an initiative to neutralise last week’s quit notice issued by Arewa youths to Igbo residents in the North by constituting and inaugurating a 100-member Planning and Strategy Committee, headed by former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chukwuma Soludo, to design both the economic and political development agenda for Ndigbo.
According to Ohanaeze, the Soludo committee was also expected to come up with the best strategy that would enable the South-east zone become self-reliant in view of the alleged marginalisation of the zone.
Nwodo, who inaugurated the committee at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu, however urged the committee to articulate and formulate sound strategic economic and political policies for Ndigbo, adding that the recommendations of the committee would be used by the Ohanaeze secretariat to formulate integrative economic programmes for the respective states within the zone, in collaboration with the South-east governors as well as Governors of Rivers and Delta States respectively.
Particularly, Nwodo charged the committee to zero in on the articulation of integrated railway network linking all the seven Ohanaeze states; an annual growth of one million palm trees in each of the states within the next five years; a corresponding growth of attractive processing industries for the palm produce but on high, medium and small scale levels and a policy for maximisation of the zones coal resources for power generation.
Other recommendations included a geological inventory of all mineral resources and a carefully scripted plan for engaging the federal government in their exploitation; the development of a refinery for petroleum resources; a paradigm shift to greenhouses methodology for vegetable production using the Netherlands experience as a typology and a deliberate policy for development of ICT hubs in the states of the region to encourage human capital development.
Ohanaeze charged the committee to look at an educational curriculum geared towards the development of skills amongst men and women in the region; recommendation of appropriate policies to states to improve the educational standards in their schools at all levels and growth of reliable financial institutions for mortgage, small scale business financing and research.
On the threat by the Arewa Youths and some Northern Elders, Nwodo cautioned the South-east youths from spiraling out of control, saying, “The jury is still out in Igbo land regarding the choice between self-determination and restructuring as a solution to our current impasse.”
Speaking on behalf of the committee, Soludo said it was time for Ndigbo to take their destiny in their hands as the region had become an emerging global tribe with huge population density of about 1,351 persons per sqkm, and largest concentration of human and material resources in Africa.
He said Nigeria’s population was estimated at 400 million by 2050, which would represent a huge market for the Ndigbo if a well-articulated economic development policy was put in place to harvest their enterprise and ingenuity.
“As an emerging global tribe, we must learn a new language of global business diplomacy and good neighbourliness. As the saying goes, to change your world, change your word! We need to change the conversation; we need to change the narrative!
“New bridges must be built, and a new politics needs to evolve. Public service in Igboland must take a new face and a new meaning. Our leadership recruitment process needs rethinking. The language on marginalisation also needs interrogation: is it about political appointments/offices or about economic empowerment through private enterprise, and the interactions between the two?”
Other members of the committee include Prof. Barth Nnaji, Prof. Mark Anikpo, Prof. Eugene Nweke, Prof. Osita Ogbu, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu, Dr. Olisa Agbokoba (SAN), Prof. Hilary Edoga; Ambassador Alex Nwofe; Prof. Joy Ezeilo; Mr. Mike Chukwu, and Dr. Adline Idike, amongst others. – Thisday.