As the saying goes; “a road once traveled, can always be traveled again”. In the first Republic, under the leadership of Drs. Akanu Ibiam and Michael Okpara, the then Eastern Region was economically self-sustaining, building upon the foundation laid by the colonial masters.
For the region to get back to the successes of the first republic, it must strive to be a player in the current global economic dispensation, where trade borders are seamless, technology is cheap, and venture capitalists – both local and foreign – are aplenty.
To be able to know where you are going, you have to know where you are coming from, how to get there, and what you need to get to your destination. In the case of the Igbos of Southeastern Nigeria, it is obvious where they are coming from, economically.
Where Are Igbos Coming from?
Today, the region is badly in need of good governance, reliable infrastructure, rail system and seaports, steady water and power supply, agricultural and manufacturing industries, security, improved educational infrastructures and modernized academic curriculum, agricultural, bio-medical and scientific research facilities, a stable government across the region, and business-friendly laws.
Where Are Igbos Going?
In terms economic development, Igbos would want, and do desire, to be at par with countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Israel, and Singapore, just to name a few. The four factors of production – resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurial spirit - are in abundant supply in the region. What is lacking is a vision and a mission to better harness these factors, a strategy or plan to implement that mission to achieve that vision. The big question is: does Igbos have the stomach and determination to embark on this arduous task of economic development? If the will is not there, the way will not be there either.
What do Igbos Need to Get There?
First, you have to know what you have to be able to identify what you need. In terms of natural resources, the region is abundantly blessed. Underground in the five Southeastern states of Nigeria and parts of Edo and Delta states lay the following natural resources and their uses:
All of these natural resources could be developed to any stage desired for either local use or exported to generate revenues; what is lacking is strong commitment by the people and governments, and the requisite vehicle to drive a development plan.
Southeastern Nigeria Development Corporation (SENDC)
The first step would be for the southeastern governors, industrialists, and academicians locally and in Diaspora to commit to the following:
As the saying goes: “if you build it, they will come”; apart from a quick return on their investments, investors look for ease of entry into any market, unencumbered movement of capital (funds), uninterrupted access to internet technology, accurate and on-time information, and ease of exit. The existence of cheap modern technology has made it possible for any government, region or community to put in place the technological resources required for efficient and effective conduct of business in any part of Nigeria. Governments of the Southeastern zone must ensure the following:
In Igboland today, there is abundance of venture capitalists and investor, locally and in Diaspora; New business and investment consulting experts; abundance of cheap but educated labor force, and a highly trained technical and vocational workforce within the zone. Equally not lacking is a requisite entrepreneurial zeal – the willingness and commitment to take a risk at success – among the people of the zone.
These days, governments are incapable of doing everything alone; governments and the governed frequently come together to create a third vehicle – public/private partnerships - for the development of a community, state, region, or nation. For Igbos to get to where they want to be, we must take the bull by the horn, set a developmental goal and timetable for our land, and make the necessary sacrifices required to achieve that goal. It takes planning, time, and commitment from everyone.
Mr. Felix Oti (B.Sc. Econs)
Principal Partner: Oti & Associates, PC.
(Income Tax, Personal Finances, Business Development Strategies)
Member: National Association of Business Economics (USA); American Economists Association; National Economics Association (USA)