Enugu – Some members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the South East region have blamed the seeming dearth of infrastructure and backwardness in the zone to lack of political direction.
This acme as the group said that the South East region should stop talking about marginalisation.
Rising from a South East Good Governance and Economic Summit held on Monday in Enugu, the participants called for an infrastructural design and clear development path in the zone.
The Executive Director of Partners for Electoral Reform, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said that the time for the people to appraise themselves was now as their problems were self inflicted.
Nwagwu said that blaming the state of infrastructure in the zone on the Federal Government or forces outside the zone was misplaced as the zone had had unrivaled opportunities for growth and development.
“In this country, our children have been Senate Presidents, Deputy senate President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Coordinating Minister of the Economy, grade ‘A’ ministers and many more.
“What did they use their positions to attract apart from enriching themselves and their families? The time for us to sit together and plan for the future is now.
“It is time we stop talking about marginalisation and take a deep look at ourselves,” he said.
He said that politicians from the area had been the major cause of underdevelopment in the area while the masses had been so docile in holding them accountable.
“For a people that are very enterprising, the level of infrastructure decay in the zone is a tragedy. For instance, we do not have a functional international airport.
“However, we are the people that travel the most. We have had our children in the aviation ministry but what did they do,” he said.
Nwagwu said that the zone had a peculiar challenge of having transaction life, adding “we build castles where there is no road and that is why we are poor.
“We have to be part of the movement to demand service delivery audit in the zone,” he said.
He blamed most of the problems in the zone on the assault on traditional institutions by state governors who balkanized existing institutions and created what they called autonomous communities.
“The destruction of the Southeast came with the creation of autonomous communities and making people of questionable character our traditional rulers,” he said.
Nwagwu called for a conscious action plan by activists to mobilise the people of the area with a view to emancipating them from the politicians that had held the region down.
In a presentation, the Chairman, Umuahia North Council of Traditional Rulers, Abia State, Eze Phillip Ajomiwe, said that the royal fathers in the zone were fed up with happenings in the area.
Ajomiwe said that it was saddening that successive administrations in the zone were pursuing shadows and had abandoned projects cited by the former Premier of defunct Eastern Nigeria, late Chief Michael Okpara.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), Mr Obidi Mgbemena, said that the summit was aimed at strengthening the capacity of citizens to engage their elective representatives.
Mgbemena said that it was saddening that there was widespread poverty, insecurity and low infrastructure development in the area in spite of huge allocations to elected representatives.
He said that the indifference of the people of the zone in their own affairs tended to characterise them as too independent minded that their common patrimony was nobody’s business.
“Widespread Southeast development can only be measured through the prism of Open Government Partnership (OGP), leading to open and participatory budget process from conception through monitoring and evaluation,” Mgbemena said.
The summit was attended by members of the CSO’s, traditional rulers, government officials and political activists from across the Southeast. (NAN)