THE apex Igbo socio-political and cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has named former Central Bank Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the head of a 100-member Planning and Strategy Committee to articulate and formulate economic and political policies for Ndigbo.
Inaugurating the committee on Saturday at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel Enugu, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo assured that Ohanaeze would use the recommendations of the committee, where considered pertinent, to formulate integrative economic programs for the states in the South East in collaboration with the South East governors as well as governors of Rivers and Delta states.
Among other charges placed before the committee are the articulation of an integrated railway network linking the seven Ohanaeze states; enhancing an annual growth of one million palm trees in each of the seven Ohanaeze states within the next five years; ensuring a corresponding growth of attractive processing industries for the palm produce but on high, medium and small scale levels and a policy for maximization of the zones coal resources for power generation.
The committee is also required to conduct 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; a deliberate policy for development of ICT hubs in the states of the region to encourage human capital development; an educational curriculum geared to 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.
Nwodo, meanwhile bemoaned the recent quit notice issued by some northern youth groups to Ndigbo residing in the northern parts of the country, and pondered the “incapacity of the police to make needful arrests in this situation.”
He however cautioned the Igbo youths from spiraling out of control, noting that, “the jury is still out in Igbo land regarding the choice between self-determination and restructuring as a solution to our current impasse.”
On the task before the committee, Soludo said that it was time for Ndigbo to take their destiny in their hands as the region is now an emerging global tribe with a population density of about 1,351 persons per sq. km, and largest concentration of human and material resources in Africa.
He said that Nigeria’s population is estimated at 400 million by 2050 and this represents a huge market for Ndigbo if a well-articulated economic development policy was put in place to harvest their enterprise and ingenuity.
He urged that “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 marginalization also needs interrogation: is it about political appointments/offices or about economic empowerment through private enterprise, and the interactions between the two?”