By Chukwudi Enekwechi
From the recent meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and some senators from the South East region, it is obvious that the Nigeria’s leader initial promise to be fair to all sections of the country has come into fruition. It is understood that the leaders from the region tabled issues related to infrastructural development such as roads, railway, power, airports and seaports. They also raised issues surrounding the exclusion of the region in the security architecture of the country.
As legitimate as the demands are, the large-heartedness of President Muhammadu Buhari to address the problems of the South East as being canvassed by the senators signifies his desire to develop Nigeria equitably.
Understandably, South East has been worst affected in terms of denial of basic amenities by successive administrations, but with this new initiative and collaboration with the federal government, it is obvious that the months and years ahead under President Muhamadu Buhari will change the course of things for the better.
On assumption of power on May 29th 2015 President Buhari had assured the nation that he will be president for all Nigerians and from all indications he has lived up to the promise. If we remember that his electioneering campaign was hinged on the three planks of securing the nation, fighting corruption and revitalising the economy, then it is easy to appreciate the milestones already attained, all for the greater benefit of all sections of the country.
From all indications, it seems that the President Buhari administration is using the diversification policy to ensure that all sections of the country are supported to maximise their inherent potentials, thereby enhancing their comparative advantages in different areas.
It must be acknowledged that before President Buhari emerged as president, the biggest challenge confronting the nation, and which retarded our progress was corruption. Indeed, no significant effort was made by successive administrations to tackle the menace, but President Buhari with the benefit of his long years of experience was able to decipher the problem, and chose to confront it headlong.
It is therefore needless to say that his single-minded determination to improve the lot of Nigerians propelled him on assumption of power to roll out several policies towards ameliorating the plight of the downtrodden, though the turnaround will come with pains. This is however expected considering the long years to which successive administrations subjected the citizenry to servitude through acts of omission or commission.
Basically, the economic policies which centre on energy, power, agriculture, road infrastructure and general economic programmes are all aimed at revitalising the nation’s economy, and the South East as a vibrant region has an opportunity to tap into them.
Again prior to President Buhari assuming office, corruption thrived in the system and this greatly undermined the ability of individuals, groups and even regions to maximally utilise their potentials.
Is it not mind-boggling that despite the huge support the South East gave PDP since 1999, yet they failed to address basic infrastructural needs of the zone which include roads, power, railway, housing, seaport, airports among many others?
With President Buhari only one year in the saddle, many of the dilapidated roads are being given attention. Definitely the senators’ recent engagement will help immensely in drawing the federal government attention towards addressing the problems of the zone
With Mr. President having used his ingenuity to release the great economic potentials in the various parts of the country, it offers an opportunity for the South East zone to seek for areas of comparative advantage and set up manufacturing industries in those areas. This strategy will not only boost their economy through job creation, but enhance the overall economic activities of the states and local governments in the region.
Among other things, the federal government has initiated several empowerment and job creation programmes aimed at solving the unemployment problem and addressing the hardship occasioned by the recession, and South East leaders have a duty to explore the opportunities and avail their people with the information.
Government has also provided incentives in such institutions like Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture, Infrastructure Bank, National Directorate of Employment and it behoves the relevant agencies of the various state governments in the region to commence research into these institutions and derive the benefits accruable.
We live in a competitive world and every region including the South East must key into the mainstream of the economy. Already the President Buhari administration has provided the enabling environment for businesses, agriculture, mining and other sectors to thrive. Therefore deliberate efforts must be made by the region to take advantage of the federal government programmes.
South East is notable for the abundance of coal, palm oil, oil and gas, agriculture, human capital and many other potentials. To strategically develop the zone, all the states must work out modalities that will stimulate investment across the region, and this includes reinventing the Think-Home philosophy as enunciated by former governor of Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
The philosophy espouses the vital need for Igbos living outside the region to bring home their investments as a way of helping to develop the region. Across the country, South Easterners have invested heavily in their places of abode and the consideration in the Think-Home philosophy is that by investing a chunk of their earnings at home, they will also help in uplifting lives at home.
In this era of ‘change’ where the diversification policy of the Buhari administration is helping to jump-start the ailing economy, it is only wise for discerning minds to tap into the unfolding opportunities.
Corruption which has remained a bulwark for the nation’s sustainable economic development is being tackled headlong, and this has reduced the obstacles that it poses for any meaningful or purposeful development. In a nutshell, corruption retards progress of any people and Nigeria is lucky to have President Buhari who is waging a relentless war against the malaise.
Chukwudi Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician, writes from Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org