A move is underway by leaders of the southeast geopolitical zone to forge economic integration and reposition the region for development.
The initiative will have five governors and an array of prominent Igbo leaders from religious, economic, educational and political platforms rubbing minds together to tackle decrepit infrastructure and leadership void in the region.
Under the aegis of South East Leadership and Development Initiative (SELDI), the move stems from “a near state of hopeless that has befallen the southeast since the end of the Civil War and in particular, since 1999, when the present democratic experience took off.”
The leaders, it was learnt, reviewed the state of the zone in the past 17 years and concluded..
“The present democratic dispensation has not helped the area.
”Besides governors of the region, the initiative is also being driven by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; former Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anayoku; former Ministers Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Prof. Charles Soludo, and Prof. Barth Nnaji…
It is argued that the strength of Nigeria as a nation derives from the strength of its component parts. A weak Igbo nation is therefore undesirable on two accounts. Firstly, Nigeria is weakened to the extent that the Igbo nation is weak. Secondly, the Igbos themselves are the immediate recipients of any shortfall in Igbo vitality and strength. Hence, the Igbos owe it to themselves and the rest of Nigeria to make efforts not only to develop themselves to the fullest extent possible but also to learn to act coherently and with purpose and vision as a people.
The Igbo people have suffered a number of reverses in recent Nigerian history. To wit, they have lost millions of lives in the pogrom and the subsequent bid for a separate and independent state (Biafra) as well as the ensuing civil war. They have also been economically emasculated after the civil war and subsequently marginalized not only in the Nigerian political arena but also in the public services, the armed forces and the police, However, these reverses must be seen as temporary, for as the great Owelle of Onitsha (Dr Azikiwe) once remarked: “No condition is permanent.” And so it shall be with the Igbos provided they take appropriate measures to ensure this.
This paper therefore addresses the measures that are needed to change Igbo fortunes. It is suggested that, although the Igbos are a major ethnic group in Nigeria, their influence in all aspects of the Nigerian national life fails to match the degree of their relative numerical strength. This is attributed to the fact that the Igbos are neither organized to act coherently as a people nor have they defined for themselves what their group interests really are as well as how to promote and realize those interests.
The view taken in this paper is that the starting point for Igbos is to develop an organized leadership – though one not based on personality cults, considering their republican temperament and tendencies. Present realities therefore dictate that the Igbos organize themselves through a Pan-Igbo organization,. be based not on a single individual but on a small group of competent and committed people reminiscent of the council of elders of Igbo traditional societies – though not restricted to only rich or wise old men but for all men of honor..