By Emma Okonji
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, serial digital entrepreneur and Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, Senator Chris Anyanwu and a host of other prominent sons and daughters of Imo State, have called for the elevation of the socio-economic development of the state.
They have expressed their determination to see how the state could enjoy an unprecedented level of socio-economic development commensurate with the immense potential and human capital resources at its disposal.
They made the call during 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 inauguration of the IEDI office located in Owerri.
Speaking 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,” Iwu said.
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, he said.
“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,” Iwu added.
Ekeh, who highlighted the important role ICT could 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,” Ekeh said.