Prominent Igbo sons and daughters led by First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim and former Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, Professor Anya O. Anya yesterday, brainstormed on how to engender the development of the South East geo-political zone and other Igbo speaking areas.
They spoke at the zoom/virtual presentation and launch of Igbo Data Base – Igbodum by the leading Igbo pressure and intellectual group, Nzuko Ummuna, led by Professor Pat Utomi and Mr Ngozi Odumuko.
The event attracted the crème de la crème of the Igbo nation including former Presidential Candidate, Professor Pat Utomi; Professor Osita Ogbu; Senator Chris Anyanwu; Professor Barth Nnaji; and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche.
Professor Pat Utomi, who heads the board of Nzuko Ummuna, stressed the need for Igbo unity and collaboration to develop Igboland.
For the Chairman of the event, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, with the launch of the Igbo data base, history was being made because for the first time, the Igbo are aggregating themselves.
He said: ”Over the years, the Igbo have not been able to place value on their strength and contributions to national development. There is need for development of Igboland. Every Igbo should approach the project with patriotism because it will impact on us and the nation.”
Mbazulike Amaechi noted that the Igbo in diaspora have acquired so much wealth and should come back to develop their areas.
He said: “There is nothing Igbo cannot do for themselves. Look at Israel, with technological, and educational power, it is a force to reckon with in the world now.
”Let Igbo not focus on pursuit of political power but look for other powers – technological, economic, educational, etc and develop Igbo land, and create employment for our people.”
Professor Anya, said the initiative by Nzuko Ummuna fits the challenges of the time and should be embraced.
Recalling that Igbo embraced western education in 1930s later than some of her peers in Nigeria, he said by 1964, the Eastern region had become the fastest growing economy in Black world and measured up in many areas of life through education..
”Igbo and Nigeria are in dangerous times now. Where we are now, we must recognise that education was the leverage we used to rise from the bottom to the top. Now, we deride education. It is still what we need to get to the top.
”Now competitive advantage has taken over from comparative advantage because of education and knowledge power. We must use what we have to become the first knowledge economy in Africa. The resources for doing this are available. It is how to develop the resources to capture the young that is lacking.
”Now, our youths don’t appreciate our history, hence the divide between the youths and elders. People are talking about 2023 presidency, which is not the priority of Ndigbo now because we don’t know if there will be election in 2023 because the crisis we are facing now, only God will help us”, he said.
Former minister of power, Professor Barth Nnaji aligned with Amaechi and Anya.
He said: ”We can aspire for political power but must focus on economic development. We require knowledge, exposure, intelligence and capacity to achieve economic development. Having diversity all over the world is an asset. But we lack understanding of our full capacity. Let’s have a way to reach and touch our people. That is why the database is important.”
Prince Chibudom Nwuche said the Igbo need to come together from across the states to forge unity across the Igbo states and those in the South-South.
He said: “Our country is at cross roads. It is important Igbo come together. In my short history on earth, I have not seen our country so divided. There is need for Igbo to speak with one voice.”