By Rosemary Onuoha
The Igbo Youth Empowerment Foundation, IYEF, a South East advocacy group, has sought for the promotion of community development as a viable model to support government intervention initiative in advancing development in the region.
The group said the call had become necessary to close the yawning infrastructure gap in the South East.
Addressing the media in Lagos, Chairman of IYEF, Mr. Bright Ezeocha said the foundation was found to champion empowerment and development of the South East region.
Ezeocha called for widespread mobilization of successful Igbo entrepreneurs to think of how to pool resources and tackle some of the key challenges militating against development of the region.
He said: “In the past, communities usually mobilize themselves to embark on road construction. I recall when we were in school, the Imo State government mobilized indigenes of the state by creating special levy for the construction of the Imo airport. The Imo Airport was built through the effort of the people, and I recalled while in school we were asked to pay airport development levy.”
He said such patriotism could be replicated in some of the areas that require urgent attention, adding, “for instance, the sea port, which the region had agitated for over the years, could commence through spirited efforts of large entrepreneurs.
“The foundation aims at creating a platform and engagement process that will mobilize support of the people and also create synergy among other interest groups in the region. One of the key problems of the region is divided interests and lack of harmony among groups and individuals and if we can come together and speak as one entity, then we can achieve a lot in terms of empowering our people.
Speaking further, Ezeocha said though he had not totally lost hope in governance, over the years successive administrations seem to have neglected the region and abandoned critical aspects of development.
He said the people can take destiny in their hands than waiting perpetually for government intervention adding that from the body language of the present administration, the Igbos should expect less in government intervention.
On the agitation for Biafra by MASSOB, Ezeocha said violence is not the solution to any problem but he added that the agitation is being compounded by various other groups like the Zionist movement.
“All these disjointed agitation are not in the interest of the people, we need to harmonise our views and aspirations and there is need to establish a win-win situation. We should aspire to grow the economy of the region, create job and fight restlessness of youths so that at the end we would have succeeded in creating a better society for ourselves” Ezeocha urged.
He however, advised former leaders to show more patriotism and respect for the region by desisting from making uncanny statements on issues bothering on agitation for Biafra.
“While we seek our kinsmen and those in the vanguard of recreation of the Biafra Republic, to be cautious in their approach, we still need to caution others to refrain from statements that will ignite tension” he warned.
He said for instance the comment credited to former president Olusegun Obasanjo that government will defeat Boko Haram like Biafra was unfortunate and is capable of opening old wounds.
Ezeocha further said that former head of state Gen. Yakubu Gowon takes advantage of every public function to insult the Igbos over the Biafra war and also bring down the personality of former Biafra leader Gen. Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.