Fmr. Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, Chairman of the occasion, delivering his opening remarks at SESSE, Owerri 2023.
The drivers of the South-East Reset Summit on Economy and Security were there in full force and presence. L-R: Ambassador Okey Emuchay, Secretary-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Gov. Peter Mbah, of Enugu State, Gov. Alex Otti of Abia State, Gov. Charles Soludo of Anambra State, host, Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and Sen. Chris Anyanwu, Chairperson of the Summit Committee, in Owerri on Thursday, Septemver 28, 2023.
Stakeholders in the South-East zone of Nigeria, have resolved to establish a South East Development Commission (SEDC). This came after the end of the first ever South East Summit on Security and Economy (SESSE) 2023, held last week in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The eventful ocassion ended with a strident call for manifestly and unwaveringly operationalise ideas for the region’s development through actions for results, not jaded rhetorics.
This was the blunt remit of Prof Sam Amadi, former Executive Security of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and a foremost development scholar in an intensive lead paper he delivered at the Summit.
Amadi’s paper titled, “Roadmap to Accelerated Economic Transformation of the South-East“, insisted that there was a need for coordinated efforts to achieve the development of the South-East Zone intentionally, crystallized by structures backed by the power of collectivity and strength, with a mandate for action to move, work and deliver results.
Stating that the time is now, Amadi asserted that, the historic rapid transformation of the then Eastern Region of Nigeria under the premiership of late Dr. Michael Okpara in the first republic, was a record other nations marvelled at and copied.
He maintained that this could be replicated without any pretence to magic or laments of limitations, pointing out that a leadership commitment to a mission and zeal for action was impaerative..
Said Amadi: “Put bluntly in a context, we cannot as a people lament for too long for what we have done before, demonstrated to world acclaim, and can still do again even better, with an increasingly digitalised human capital in our thumbs, and amazing zestful youth assets to exploit. No, we must rise above the ‘prison’ of how the cookie crumbled to triumph on how the cookie is refreshed and enhanced”.
Reemphasising the successes of the zone in the first Republic that made the region the fastest growing economy in the world then, the scholar declared that the ‘rocket attitude’ was the right mix of development processes, a coordinating body (the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation), a strong political will and character that made inclusion a norm and citizen mobilisation a charm.
Prof. Amadi was deliberate that a new coordinated effort to develop the five states of the South-East would succeed if current dynamics were purposefully factored into the operations and functions of the proposed SEDC without debilitating personal interests and excessive political interruptions to work for common good.
Stated he: “We have seen how Europe and Asia transformed their economies. We can borrow or reincarnate what we knew, to create a developmentalist state, that has political will to mobilise relevant consensus on a development agenda that drives and thrives coherently and consistently.
“The good news is that we had such a state in the defunct Eastern Nigeria under Dr. M.I Okpara as premier”.
Okpara’s policy on Agriculture, he recalled, had a two-fold trust namely; the establishment of farm settlements for food crops and poultry as well as estates of oil palm, cocoa, cashew among others which were processed for export, adding that that was productivity on wheels.
Alongside the agricultural products, Amadi recounted, Opkara went out for numerous industrial projects cum estates scattered all over the Eastern region which birthed many industries, facilities and new towns all over in a brave record time, stating that it spoke pointedly of boldness and tenacity, his vision and sacrifice, that he died without even a home he built himself.
Continued Amadi: “So the matter of focus in moving from Agriculture to industries is strategic and coherent key to Eastern Nigeria’s rapid economic recovery and growth with improved human capital and clarity of purpose.
“Another how, is that the Eastern Nigeria Government was strategic in managing the private sector. It followed neither the communist approach of avoiding and demonising the private sector, nor the western model of allowing rent-seeking and predation. The proper deployment of ideas must be ‘wedded to power to be effective’.
“Power without ideas leads to tyranny. Ideas without power leads to mere intellectualism. Political will is not a matter of rhetoric. It is determination backed up by resilience and willingness to sacrifice. Dr. M. I. Okpara had it. Sam Mbakwe (PhD) had it. We can have it even more now, because we, as Ndigbo, are not lacking in ideas. We should wake up from our rhythm of redundance, and dance the music of transformation by implementing our abundant ideas sustainably, through committed synergy, trust and transparency. Now is the time for the reset we must adopt to engage, and rework for progress that beckons”.
The South-East Summit on Security and Economy was hosted by the Governors of the five South-East states with all in attendance, to rethink a reset for leadership inspirations to re-enact regional synergy for development and prosperity, under the auspices of Ohaneze Ndigbo with Sen. Chris Anyanwu as Chairperson of the Organising Committee in Owerri.