Notable Imo State indigenes have expressed their determination to see the state enjoy unprecedented level of socio-economic Development commensurate with its immense human capital and natural resources in 2018.
Prominent among them were a former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, Chairman, Zinox Group, Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, and Senator Chris Anyanwu, and a host of others, who spoke at the launch of the Imo Economic Development Initiative (IEDI).
IEDI is a landmark private project set up to boost human capacity development, wealth creation and poverty alleviation in the state, followed with the commissioning of its headquarters in Owerri, the state capital.
IEDI Chairman, Prof. Iwu, disclosed that in addition to the need to address the development challenges of Imo State, the driving force behind the initiative is to stir aright the socio-economic affairs of the state to complement government’s efforts.
“While each government administration, past or present had 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. This is so as 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 Diaspora,” he stated.
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 vitalisation, 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 the 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, and 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. We are in contact with our brethren in neighbouring states, and our members have indeed facilitated the establishment of
corporate joint ventures with like minds.
“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 elaborated
From his perspective, Ekeh, who highlighted the important role ICT can 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 realise 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,” he stated.
Agreeing with Ekeh, the IEDI Chairman noted that though non-partisan, the Initiative will show active interest in the governance of the state, going forward.
“Our prime focus remains the economic development of our state through private sector funding and leveraging on available Federal and State Government resources. But we are keen stakeholders in the affairs of Imo State, including how it is governed,” he stated.