Investors and entrepreneurs of South-Eastern origin residing in Lagos State have been called to replicate their investments at home in order to bring the zone at par with other industrialized regions of the country.
The call was part of the outcome of a business roundtable on Saturday by Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, an umbrella body of Igbo residents in Lagos, held in collaboration with the South-East Governors Forum in Lagos.
The roundtable was an integral part of a dinner party organised by the group in celebration of the 70th birthday of renowned Igbo industrialist, Arthur Eze, and investiture ceremony as the patron of Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, Nigeria.
Speaking at the session, the Chairman, South-East Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, noted that Igbos’ investments and enterprise spirit was the driving force behind the developments seen in Lagos and other big cities in Nigeria.
Umahi challenged the Igbos in Lagos to begin to think home to guarantee the future of Ndigbo in general.
He pledged the willingness of the Governors to provide both environmental and logistics support to such investors who may heed the clarion call for the economic emancipation of the zone.
Umahi said: “We have a lot of our illustrious sons and daughters all over the country and beyond.
“And so, what we ask our people is: what do you see?
“What does the future hold for us if we do not develop the South-East?
“We are fully determined, the Governors, to cooperate with our brothers and sisters, to give incentives, give opportunities so that if you have your businesses here in Lagos, you can have part of it also in the South-East.
“We are willing and we will provide all the enabling environment, the opportunities and all the leverages that you may demand of us.”
Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, in his submissions identified insecurity, power problems and the dearth of advanced infrastructures such as air and sea ports as some of the impediments to the full industrialization of the South-East zone.
Ikpeazu however maintained that the present leadership in Abia State and most other States of the zone have taken bold steps towards addressing the issues with the aim of encouraging safe investments.
According to him, the Enyimba Industrial and Economic City in Aba, Abia State situated on over 9,300 hectares of land with its strategic national and international location, has all it takes to incubate, nurture and flourish industries capable of changing the economic fortunes of the zone.
Others who partook in the event, including Prof. Barth Nnaji, who spoke on power, as well as the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, agreed on the need for Ndigbo in general to begin to think home.
Ekweremadu, while commending the Governors and the group for the initiative, however, emphasized that another day should be set aside for a more comprehensive and concrete discussion of the subject matter.
The President-General of Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, Major General Obi Umahi (retd), in his remark said the event was organized essentially as an avenue for the Governors and Igbo Entrepreneurs to rub minds and set an agenda towards full economic revolution in Igbo land.
Umahi added that it was also an avenue to honour an illustrious son of Igboland, Arthur Eze, whom he described as an industrialist and philanthropist of international repute.
He noted that the group would continue to interface with the Governors until the South-East matches the development indices in Lagos and other major cities, adding that the Governors have expressed their desire to raise the development bar of the zone.
While he expressed the plans of the group to establish Ndigbo Radio and Television Stations in Lagos soon, to manage its information sector, Umahi called on all and sundry of Igbo extraction to join hands to promote the growth and development of Igboland in general.
“Let us unite, let us emphasize the things that bind us together,” he advised.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of birthdays cake in honour of Eze and his investiture as the patron of the group.
Among other guests at the event were the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; Prof. Pat Utomi; and Prof. Sam Otu Anya, who is the Director-General, South-East Governors Secretariat, Enugu.