Southeast Governors must Urgently Initiate Marshall Plan For Integrated Regional Development

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We the Igbo Ekunie Initiative, IEI, comprising individuals in Nigeria and the Diaspora; having reviewed events of the past few years and taken cognisance of global trends andthe state of the nation; wish to again state as follows:

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That the Nigerian state has long betrayed the ideal for development, and that this has been engenderedprimarily by the nation’s contradictions and consequent retrogressive policiesof marginalisation pursued by successive regimes.

That, given these realities; its abundantly self evident, that any region desiring development must do sothrough a self-driven effort, a comprehensive Marshall plan and a regionaldevelopment platform. For 59 years Nigeria has continued to fail. As a distinctpeople, we have the onerous responsibility to take the bull by the horn andcreate a separate, ingenious and audacious part for development.  

That, across various continents, contiguous states, regions, provinces and nations are forming economic blocs and integrated development agencies that benefitting fromeconomies of scale can better aggregate resources for capital intensive in frastructure and projects across their geographical spheres. In the same vein, we note that the then Eastern region made rapid progress under the auspices of the defunct Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC).

We submit that the Southeast region has more population than Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan,Belgium, Sweden, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland aswell as many African countries. It is thus a region that can effectively mobilise its population; human and material, at home and in the Diaspora forunprecedented regional development through a public/ private/ Diaspora partnership under the auspices of a regional investment/development corporation.

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We hereby again call on thegovernors of the Southeast region to initiate a Marshall plan and followingfrom its recommendations, float a regional investment/development corporationto be capitalised through contributions from each state in the first instance,banks, shares, bonds, crowdfunding and Diaspora development funds.

That the  regional investment corporation like thedefunct ENDC will then invest in major capacity-building infrastructure across theregion such as super-highways (with tollgates), real estate with particularemphasis on high density buildings/ skyscrapers (for population management),  establishment of strategic industries such assteel plants, refineries, cement plants and the creation of special industrial parks/freetrade zones across states in the region so as to lead in innovative start-upsand industrialisation. In the area of tourism, the corporation will seekpartnership with international consortiums in view of establishing major gameparks such as Disneyland Park amongst others.

That, all projects to be undertaken, must be “generative” infrastructure that would bring rapid returnsfor investors in the public /private partnership scheme.  In order to encourage maximum participationby a broad spectrum of South-easterners and other interested parties at homeand in the Diaspora, a public enlightenment program should precede the inaugurationof the Marshall plan and float of a regional investment/ development corporation.

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The 21st century isreplete with success stories and shifting dynamics. Theatres of development arespreading and shifting across the globe. From West to East, Singapore, SouthKorea, China is taking a centre stage in development. In the Middle East, Qatarand the city of Dubai are blazing a rarely seen developmental trail.

We have a rare opportunityto put ourselves in the global map of development by building from the ashes,an audacious first world region with glistening skyscrapers, superhighways,massive industrial parks, world-class health centres and technological researchcentres amongst others.  We put African literatureon the global map with Chinua Achebe’s epic “Things Fall Apart”, we put Africanmovies on the global map with the “Nollywood” movie industry. There is noreason why we can’t put our region in the world map of development throughaggressive regional development.

It’s time to build acivilisation: economic, industrial, political and social that will stand thetest of time. We hereby again urge governors of the Southeast to think outsidethe box and take ownership of our collective destiny by initiating a Marshallplan and creating a regional development corporation that will usher in arenascent East. We can and we must do it. The time is now!

ChiefTochukwu Ezeoke
PresidentIgbo Ekunie Initiative

MrLawrence Nwobu
SecretaryIgbo Ekunie Initiative

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Chief Tochukwu Ezeoke 
President Igbo Ekunie Initiative