*It will provide jobs and curb social vices — Diwe
*South-East govs must be ready to provide enabling environment, adequate security of their investment and tax waiver — Attama
*It will quicken development of South-East — Ebonyi leaders
By Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu, Chinedu Adonu, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinonso Alozie & Ikechukwu Odu
ENUGU—The association of South-East town unions, ASETU, has called on wealthy Ndigbo in Nigeria and in Diaspora to start investing part of their wealth in Igboland to stimulate industrial and economic development of the South-East and provide jobs for the youths of the zone.
Proposed as Aku Ruo Ulo Investment Initiative, (Think Home), ASETU argues that if wealthy Ndigbo across the globe bring about 20% of their investments to Igboland, with the acclaimed ingenuity of Ndigbo, South-East could turn to Dubai or California of Africa.
According to the President-General of ASETU, Chief Emeka Diwe, the proposal “is an action plan for making our wealthy brothers and sisters who reside outside Igboland to begin to consciously, gradually and seamlessly repatriate their wealth back home.
“In this way, more jobs will spring up and social vices take a nosedive in Igboland. It is the development of the Igboman in Igboland. It is painful to note that the greatest number of individual wealthy Nigerians is Igbos, yet, this reality has not reflected in the existential conditions of the Igboman in Igboland.
“The aggregate wealth of our people is scattered across the globe and their business nesting everywhere.
“We must, therefore, end this ongoing capital flight which will also end the brain drain and with multiplier and accelerated effects, Igboland will become the attraction of Nigeria and Africa.
“This is a restructuring that can never be restructured again.”
This was ASETU’s charge to Ndigbo.
From reaction, it seems Ndigbo agree with the proposal. According to them, the ‘Think Home’ investment idea is a clarion call to wealthy sons and daughters of the South-East to look towards home while channelling their investments to make Alaigbo great again.
Chief Emeka Attama, the Media Adviser to the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo agrees with the idea and said the call by ASETU is the same thing with the recent programme of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, calling for the establishment of Alaigbo Stabilisation Fund.
He believes that if the intended objective of ‘Think Home’ investment is achieved, it would make Igboland the Catalonia or Bayern of Africa, a business hub of note.
Attama also believes that the Alaigbo Stabilization Fund is a noble idea as the think home project, as they would create a conducive environment for prospective investors, pointing out that any contributor to the funds automatically becomes a shareholder.
He expressed the hope that the project would be achieved if the South-East governors provide enabling environment for the investors such as making land available, ensuring adequate security of their investment and tax waiver for some years.
“The call by ASETU is in tandem with the recent move by Ohanaeze Ndigbo in setting up a committee to fashion out modalities for the establishment of Alaigbo Stabilization Fund intended to drive the same objective of think home investment by our wealthy sons and daughters to make Igboland the Catalonia and Bayern of Africa.”
It will quicken development of South East-Ebonyi Elders
Some Igbo stakeholders in Ebonyi State also spoke in tandem with the Aku Ruo Ulo Investment Initiative and commended the initiative, saying that it will further quicken the physical and economic development of the South-East region.
According to Chief Ugochukwu Akpa, the initiative if taken serious, would reduce the rate of unemployment, youth restiveness, societal vices such as armed robbery, cultism as the minds of youths would be positively engaged in meaningful ventures.
For Chief Abia Onyike, the spokesperson of the Igbo elite group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, the initiative was the brain-child of the Foundation. According to him, ”when that happens, the South-East will have the potential of becoming the most vibrant commercial cum industrial hub in the West-African sub-region.
“The Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, was actually the initiator of Aku ruo Ulo, the philosophy that supports indigenous investors of Alaigbo to think home in their investment plans.
“The campaign was articulated by ADF President, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala and vigorously supported by other ADF leaders including Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, the ADF Committee Chairman on Business and Investments.
“The idea is to create a new awareness amongst Igbo enterpreneurs to repatriate a sizeable percentage of their business holdings to Igboland. When that happens, the South-East has the potential of becoming the most vibrant commercial cum industrial hub in the West-African sub-region”.
An industrialist, Chief Executive Officer of Shanghai Engineering Works and Industrial Limited, SEWIL, Mr Festus Mbisiogu, said that one of the ways to encourage Igbo in Nigeria and Diaspora to start investing the 20 per cent of their businesses in Igboland is to establish for them a South-East industrial hub.
He added that with adequate infrastructure which include roads, constant power supply as well as adequate security for investors, South-East would be among the most industrialised regions in the world.
He regretted that; ”65 per cent of Nigeria’s businessmen and women are shuttling between Nigeria and China to import goods and items that we could manufacture and produce locally on our own soil, with better advantage of reach, ability, quality and for our economic growth, gains and advantage.
“More so, as a community leader among Nigerians in Diaspora, it was my finding that over 85 per cent of the capital remittances back home by Nigerians in Diaspora goes into domestic consumption and luxury, which does not in any way help the economic growth and community development of our region.
“This finding jolted me and inspired the birth of SEWIL, as a medium to change the narrative and encourage others to follow our footsteps in contributing to the growth and development of this country.
Diaspora Igbos should embrace idea — Monarch
In the views of the traditional ruler of Likke Iheaka in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Christopher Nnamani, Igbos living outside the South-East states of Nigeria and in the Diaspora should embrace the idea and think home with their investments.
Igwe Nnamani said that the ugly experiences of the Nigerian civil war should teach Igbos that regional development remains a stimulant for socio-cultural and economic growth of the South-East states, adding that those who invested outside Igboland during the war lost most of their assets and are still being attacked at any slightest provocation by other regions in the country.
For the President-General of Imufu autonomous community in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Lawrence Mamah, Igbos should remember that their investments are more protected at home than anywhere else in the world.
“If you remember the quantum of properties which the Igbos who invested outside lost during the civil war, you would know that there is no place like home.
“Our investments are more protected at home than outside and that is why I urge our people to bring back their investments to boost our region economically. This will enable our people to have a fallback on something if there is any incident in Nigeria.
“If you know the story of I.K.B Igboanugo and the court injunction that crushed the company, you would see reasons why we need to invest at home.
“We can create Dubai in the South East here because we have abundant natural resources and we are industrious.”
Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, an industrialist and proprietor of Rojenny Tourist & Games Village, Oba, Anambra State and Chief Mike Emerah of the Macdon Investments Limited, Onitsha believe in the project and agree that there is need to invest both at home and abroad.
According to Ezeonwuka, if Ndigbo could bring their investments back home and become the Taiwan of Nigeria, and people are scrambling for their quality products, they would not need to agitate for Biafra since they are comfortable and self-sustaining.
Ezeonwuka described as madness, a situation where wealthy Igbo sons and daughters would build sky-scrapers in Abuja, Lagos and even overseas without boasting of having small factory in their home town or any other part of Igboland.
However, Chief Mike Emerah, a known industrialist, said he has a reservation for such a call because in most cases, government and its agencies scare the investors in Igboland by introducing multiple taxation, high interest rates on bank loans, epileptic power supply with attendant highly estimated electricity bills, bad roads, lack of water supply, among other impediments.
According to Emerah who spoke through his media consultant, Chuks Agu, ASETU’s call for think home philosophy is good, but they should go beyond the call and look into the encumbrances which is scaring people from doing so, such as excessive taxation,
Chief Tony Ukasoanya in his opinion welcomed the idea and tasked wealthy people of Abia State origin to invest to assist the government to develop the state.
He explained that the support of Abia people living in the state and in the Diaspora is highly needed to rally round the government to revitalise the economy by planting industries in every part of the state.
He lauded the Enyimba City Economic project that has secured the approval of the Federal Government, saying that when fully realised, it would put Abia on the world map of economic development. He said such project would boost the idea of think home investment.