By NICKY OKOYE
Dear Igbo Leaders
What I have experienced recently with the way the Igbo nation responded to the just concluded elections is unbelievable: the unity displayed, the dedication and the collective commitment to support Atiku and Peter Obi was world-class.
It says a number of things. First is that the Igbos are indeed very united. Secondly, it shows that the Igbo nation can be mobilized if there is a strong and focused direction guided by formidable leadership. However that MOBILIZATION must be in a tangible direction.
For some strange reasons, which I cannot understand, the leadership of Ndi-Igbo ( and here I mean the social leadership such as Aka Ikenga, OHANAEZE NDI-IGBO, Ndigbo Lagos etc.) do not take the drive to stimulate investment at home as seriously as they should. The political leadership are not as serious either. And so both segments of Igbo leadership pay lip service to this drive for investment in the south-eastern part of Nigeria; once in a while they host one or two business meetings or investment conferences and then it’s back to business as usual. Nothing happens afterwards, there is no follow-up. Everybody goes to sleep.
Then, whenever there are ethnic troubles in the north or in Lagos as we experienced at Okota or Oshodi recently, everybody remembers the south-east needs investment and the agitation starts to get Igbos to make investments back home. Once the trouble is over, the agitation dies down. As I expect, it will die down in a few days even as this most recent incident blows over.
If investing in the south-east is taken as seriously as the Igbo nation took this last election, the Igbo can mobilize over $4 billion in four years from our own people and from other private sources coming from Igbos and friends of Igbos across Nigeria and across the entire world. And this $4 billion can be leveraged to over $12 billion. I don’t think any of the states in the south-east will get this kind of money in 20 years from their FAAC feeding bottle.
These funds can cover:
- a rail link for all the states to carry goods and people
- a new modern city in Anambra
- a world-class medical village at Awgu Enugu, beside UNTH
- a few industrial estates — one mega industrial estate in Nnewi, one at Aba and one at Abakiliki, Ebonyi State
- substantial investment in ultra-modern 21st-century education facilities as well as
21st centurylogistics facilities sited in each state
- A super world-class technology innovation
centre, which would prepare our young people in skills such as artificial intelligence, nano technology, digital connectivity, autonomous mobility and lots more.
These are all bankable projects that will target the world as their market. Already, technology companies from Germany are recruiting Igbo technology talent from UNN directly — it’s happening, it’s uncoordinated and below the radar of our political leadership.
The mass migration back east would be smooth and swift once the investment starts pouring in. We do not need to have a vice president or a president to accomplish this. And whereas restructuring of Nigeria is a desired political goal in the future, it will not be necessary to wait for this. We can get off our asses, roll up our sleeves and GET TO WORK to put our region on the map with or without restructuring of Nigeria.
Nobody should bother talking about a new seaport at this time; it would be a waste of money. There are enough sea ports in Nigeria; we should focus on building a rail link between Port Harcourt or Warri and Onitsha. That’s all. Then this rail line will link up to the rail connecting all seven states (including Delta and Rivers). Or we can dredge the River Niger up to Oguta or Onitsha to complement an in-country seaport, whichever is cheaper.
We can also raise another $600 million for the second Niger Bridge ourselves. I am very surprised we still want the federal government to do this for us. The project is bankable and can pay for itself. A joint venture between Anambra State and Delta State could make this happen. And even if the Sovereign Wealth Fund claims they have put all the money aside for the second Niger Bridge, we should still raise our counterpart funding and buy the entire project off the federal government and its Wealth Fund.
There is nothing stopping this other than the lack of political will.
My advice to the Igbo leadership (both social and political): Let your professionals help you to define a direction and a viable future for all our children. Let’s change our focus and use our strengths. Let’s stop crying, whining and complaining.
Complaining is not a strategy!
Dr Okoye is on:
Facebook: Dr Nicky Okoye