By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU-EGEDE, an agrarian community in Udi local government area of Enugu state has moved to open windows of economic prosperity, that will see the town growing from a sleepy community to one with commercial and economic viability.
Last week, the community which is among the Ugwnye/Odo Ozor clan of Udi north, organised ‘Egede Economic Summit’, an inaugural event where the community’s resource persons outlined strategies on how to expand the economic base of the community to create wealth for its indigenes and settlers alike.“Among the resource persons were lead consultant and Chief Economic strategist, Prof Ken Ife, who also is with ECOWAS Commission/NEPAD Presidency Nigeria; President Mohammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Justice Reform Sector and National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership, OGP, Mrs. Juliet Ibakau-Nwagwu was also among the key speakers, among other resources persons.
Members of the community said they were of the believe that Egede, situated along East-Northern axis, presents a unique opportunity of an Eastern Transit corridor, noting that with its wide mix of arable land, abundant mineral, natural and human resources, the community would be the envy of its neighbours if properly harnessed.
According to Prof. Ife “the economic development strategy brings coherence and strategic direction to shape the economic future of a pre-eminent town, Egede. It seeks to create local and strategic partnerships of federal, state and local governments with the private sector, Egede in Diaspora, civil society organisations and the international development community to realise synergy and promote inclusive growth in ways that can ensure efficient allocation of government and local community resources, promote wealth creation, fully employment and sustainable poverty reduction.”
He stated that the development philosophy was a vision for rapid transformation of the town from low income agrarian economy to a middle income competitive, dynamic, sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurial rural economy by 2025.
He added that the initiative would be able to attract investment to exploit and develop endowments, which will in turn, match the need to create jobs and reduce extreme poverty in their neighbourhoods.
To achieve the desired goal, Ife prescribed inclusive strategic and local partnerships, structural transformation, innovation, technology and diversification to increase competitiveness. “To reasonably plan for sustainable growth and employment, we need to embrace infrastructure in the overall development planning framework,” he stated.
In her presentation, President Buhari’s Special Assistant, Ibekaku-Nwagwu noted that the forefathers of the community tried so much in attracting development to the community but that with the level of education attained in the present time by members of the community, strategic and inclusive planning was needed to move the community forward from where their fathers stopped.
“We have to start by improving on the security situation, increasing our political participation, particularly as the 2019 election approaches,” she said.
Ibekaku-Nwagwu observed that the roads in the community were almost impassable, which the community needed to sound loudly to the ears of the three tires of government.
“We have to demand for better representation, what type of person do we really need as our representative and how do we actualise it because it is such a person that drives development,” Ibekaku-Nwagwu demanded.
She noted that Egede was no longer a small community to lag behind in development index but only requires mutual understanding and agreement to move higher. “We have to work with other communities to actualise our needs. This seminar will continue every year, this is just the first in the series and subsequent ones will be better,” she said.
Traditional ruler of the community, HRH, Igwe Peter Okwesili in appreciating the effort of the organizers such as Ibekaku-Nwagwu and Rev. Fr. John Amadi, stated that the economic summit was aimed at proferring suggestions for the progress of the community.
“Our community used to lack water and electricity but now we have water and electricity and before the end of the year, more roads will be tarred in Egede. We are now seeking for an international market which will boost economic activities of the town with these amenities,” the traditional ruler stated.