Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, has urged South-East governors and Igbos to invest in the five states of the zone.
Mr Anyim gave the advice on Tuesday at the 2nd Eastern Nigeria Investment Summit in Enugu.
The theme of the two-day Summit is entitled: “Ibu Anyi Danda” meaning the magic of togetherness and common purpose.
Mr Anyim said the governors and the citizenry should come together to invest and develop the region.
He said unity of purpose with shared motivation, benefit and mutual survival would offer them the opportunity to pull their resources, talents and ideas together for the benefit of the region.
Mr Anyim urged them to emulate the late Premier of the defunct Eastern Region, Michael Okpara, who brought transformation and development to the area in the First Republic through industrialisation and infrastructure.
He reminded the audience that after the assumption of office in 1960, Mr Okpara was confronted with the challenge of uplifting the living standard of the people.
He said that with the support and collaboration of stakeholders in the region, Mr Okpara was able to lift the plight of people through his government’s growth plan.
“At 39, he was able to invest in critical areas such as human capital development, industrialisation, entrepreneurship, agriculture and others, to stimulate the entire region.
“He attracted participation of the private sector and divest government interest to private sector and the region was rated the fastest developing economy in the world,” Mr Anyim said.
While calling on South-East governments to provide industries, infrastructure to develop the area, Mr Anyim said in spite of the federal allocation to states, those in the region failed to harness the economic opportunities of the area.
Mr Anyim noted that “visionary leaders” such as Jim Nwobodo and Sam Mbakwe did wonders in developing Enugu and Imo States respectively through the provision of infrastructure and the setting up of industries.
He said that investors would have confidence if the governments took the first step of providing insurance policy, protection, support and infrastructure to make their investment succeed.
On why Igbos were developing places other than theirs,Mr Anyim said that leadership must create an environment that would complement the efforts of others.
“This complement is more practical in technological businesses. If you support me and I support you, we complement each other and together we can do anything,” he said.
Mr Anyim, however, urged Igbos to develop their region by investing in it while the governments should provide conducive environment and infrastructure for the area to thrive.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Summit Planning Committee, Jasper Nduagwuike, said the event was aimed at exposing the possibilities existing in the eastern region and how to harness same to better the lots of the people.
According to him, the theme seeks to make the Igbo resilient and to understand that nothing is impossible if they are able to harness all the resources at their disposal.
Mr Nduagwuike, who is also the President, Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), said, “Ibu Anyi Danda” was the Igbo people of the 1970s, who drew strength from one another and were able to recover from the 30-month civil war to build what we have today.
“It is the coalition of different artisans in Aba who came together to produce the best of clothes and shoes,” he said.