Southeast govs partner Ohanaeze business leaders on industrialisation

The South-East Governors Forum has indicated interest in partnering with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo in its drive to industrialise the zone and make it an investment hub.

Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum and Governor of Imo State Senator Hope Uzodinma, stated this during a consultative meeting with members of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Council of Igbo Business Leaders at the Government House, Owerri, on Thursday.

Uzodinma, who said his state was ready for business and eager to receive investors with the requisite know-how and technology in gas exploration, commended the apex socio-cultural organisation in Igbo land for constituting the council.

He expressed the readiness of the forum to support the lofty objectives of the council, which were the identification of young Igbo entrepreneurs and grooming them towards mega business ventures; instituting a united and credible voice capable of speaking for the business community in Igboland; and liaising with international, national, regional and state agencies to create an enabling and conducive environment for investments in Igboland, among others.

He said: “I am impressed by the calibre of the delegation, which includes Chief Alex Chika Okafor of Chicason Group; Mr Frank Nneji of ABC Transport Group; Mr Johnson Chukwu of Cowrie Assets; Darl Uzu of Enyimba Economic City; and Lady Josephine Nwaeze, among other distinguished Igbo business leaders and professionals.

“With this kind of group led by our patriotic, experienced and versatile leader and corporate giant, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, I am sure Ohanaeze made a good decision in setting up this formidable team.”

He added: “I am impressed by your broad terms of reference and I promise maximum cooperation and support alongside my brother governors. Imo is ready for business and, we are looking for those with good ideas – a 21st-century mindset for technology and gas exploitation. And contrary to some views, the South-East Governors’ Forum is alive and active. All your prayers have been approved.”

The chairman of the Council of Igbo Business Leaders, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, noted that the council’s terms of reference showed the apex Igbo body needed it to work with governments in the region to enhance economic development and integration in the land.

He observed that the unwillingness of Igbo businessmen and industrialists to invest in the South-East had brought untold neglect and hardship to the region while boosting the economies of other regions of the country.

While commending the forum for its efforts at stabilising the economy of the South-East, Ohuabunwa, who was the immediate past President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said: “It is our view that we should see the Igboland as a region with more commonalities than differences and so propose that the region can have common investment policies and practices. We are essentially a homogeneous group and should be able to work together to build leverage and better compete with other regions of Nigeria.

He said: “On inauguration, the first assignment of the committee was to review the terms of reference and after an exhaustive debate, it became clear to us that what the Ohanaeze Ndigbo essentially wants us to do, is to work with the governments in our region to support them, bring enhanced economic development to Igbo land and change the situation and condition of our people.”

He added: “Our region has suffered so much neglect over a long time and combined with several other historical, political, social and economic factors, our people have been widely dispersed all over Nigeria, where they have made significant contributions to the social and economic development of those regions.

“Over time, it has resulted in apparent neglect of our region in terms of economic and social development. Youth unemployment became rife and there have been troubling upticks in social malfeasance.

“For many years but particularly in recent times, our people, especially our businessmen and traders in some sections of the country, have suffered losses and unfair treatment.

“Many are often threatened with confiscation of their property and recently there has been destruction of the business property of Ndigbo in some parts of Nigeria. Thankfully, you mobilised a few of our political leaders to intervene in the Alaba Market case.

“We request that you provide us with regular updates on government economic policies and initiatives to enable us to spread to the business community and help generate buy-in.”

Southeast govs partner Ohanaeze business leaders on industrialisation

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