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2019: Prof Iwu, Ekeh, others begin realignment to place Imo on right footing

In what political observers may be tempted to interpret as lead to 2019 general elections, Prof. Maurice Iwu, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Leo Stan Ekeh, leading digital entrepreneur and Chairman, Zinox Group; Senator Chris Anyanwu and a host of other prominent sons and daughters of Imo State have started a strategic alliance.

Otherwise, they have expressed their determination to see Imo State enjoy an unprecedented level of socio-economic development commensurate with the immense potential and human capital resources at its disposal.

They made this call on Thursday December 28th 2017 at the launch of the Imo Economic Development Initiative (IEDI) – a landmark private initiative set up to boost human capacity development, wealth creation and poverty alleviation in the state.

The high-profile event also witnessed the commissioning of the IEDI office located in Owerri.

In his speech at the event, Chairman of IEDI, Prof. Iwu disclosed that, in addition to the need to address the development challenges of Imo State, the driving force behind the establishment of IEDI was to stir aright the socio-economic affairs of the state in order to complement the efforts of past, present and future governments of the state.

“While each government administration, past or present has put in some efforts to improve the condition of the state, and amidst the clamour for political power, it has become apparent that our beloved state would benefit from citizens’ involvement and private sector engagement, to see Imo progress to a level that is a true reflection of the enormous talents, intellectual and material resources of its sons and daughters at home and in the Diaspora.”

According to him, a deliberate well-thought out plan of strategies to accomplish the goals are being addressed in the areas of agriculture, urban renewal of the three major cities in the state, rural vitalization, health, energy, education and security.

“Imo sons and daughters have excelled in many fields of human endeavour but there appears to be no nexus between the acclaimed individual educational and business accomplishments and our ability to develop our state or to produce and effective and responsive governance structure. The challenge facing us now is to development of Imo economy to reduce poverty and unemployment, create wealth and improve the internally generated revenue of the state.

“We are greatly encouraged by the progress members of IEDI have made in areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, projects on skills acquisition and exploring Federal resources in energy, industries reactivation and health care development. Projects in information technology are being articulated by some of our members to prepare our state to participate meaningfully in the IT-driven knowledge economy. We are in contact with our brethren in neighbouring states and our members have indeed facilitated the establishment of corporate joint-ventures with like minds.

“The IEDI plans to hold an economic investment summit early in 2018 in partnership with the government of Imo State to highlight the low-hanging fruits projects for investors and entrepreneurs, articulate an economic development blueprint that will accommodate short-term, medium-term and long-term goals of the state and how to accomplish them.”

Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Zinox Group, Ekeh, who highlighted the important role ICT can play in rewriting the history of Imo State, also harped on the importance of a conducive and responsible political climate in the state as a necessary condition to attract prospective investors.

“Through ICT, Imo State has the potential of becoming a conveyor belt of globally-certified talents that will create sustainable wealth, not only for the state but for Nigeria and the African continent at large. ICT remains the only profession in the world today that can make the son of a poor man the richest man in the world.  By making significant investments in this area, we can unleash the power of the youths, give them a level playing ground with their contemporaries in other parts of the world and make them global citizens. I assure you, the effects will transform the state and change the narrative for good. Sadly, the governments and even those at the centre seem not to realize the huge potential in this area.

“I must also point out the need for us to ensure that we contribute in ensuring we get our political governance structure correct and responsible to the development needs of the state. This is because investors calculate political risks before making investment decisions and only a stupid investor will want to put his money in a state where the political system will negatively affect his investment,” he counseled.

While expressing agreement with Ekeh, Prof. Iwu noted that though non-partisan, the IEDI will show an active interest in the governance of the state, going forward.

“Our prime focus remains the economic development of our state through private sector funding and leveraging on available Federal and State Government resources. But we are keen stakeholders in the affairs of Imo State, including how it is governed,” he concluded.

Among the dignitaries and well-meaning citizens of the state in attendance at the high-profile event were renowned technocrat, doyen of Corporate Nigeria and founder of Diamond Bank PLC, Dr. Pascal Dozie; Chairman, National Population Commission, Mr. Eze Duruiheoma (SAN); former President, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Rtd. Major General Sebastian Onwuama; industrialist and past President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Charles Ugwu; Pioneer Vice-Chancellor, Michael Opara University of Agriculture, Prof. Placid Njoku; former Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Prof. Jude Njoku; astute politician and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Imo State, Chief Jerry Chukwueke; former PDP Deputy Chairman, Imo State, Chief Cosmos Iwu; former Nigerian Ambassador to Hungary, Chief Eddy Onuoha; Chairman, First Index Group and former member, Federal House of Reps, Chief ThankGod Ezeani and media consultant, scholar and frontline Nigerian journalist, Chief Amanze Obi.

Others include Chief Cyril Amako, Dr. Vin Udokwu, Chief Louis Ezeigwe, Dr. Chinedu Iwu, Chief Patrick Okereke, Chief G.G. Iheka, Chief Charles Onyirimba, Mr. Uchenna Iwu, Engr. John ObinnaChukwu; Dr. Bola Njoku, Mr. IfeanyiAgwu, Dr. Mrs. ChukwuNgozichukwu; Dr. Harold Onunmuo, Chuka Gabriel, Mr.& Mrs. Wilson Nwafor, Ifeanyi Ukaigwe, Steve Nwoga, Barr. Golden Nwosu,TimothyIheamatu, Mr. & Mrs. Emeka Agoawike and Chidi Nkpobara, among others.