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 and the state of the nation; wish to again state as follows:

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

That, given these realities; its abundantly self evident, that any region desiring development must do so through a self-driven effort, a comprehensive Marshall plan and a regional development platform. For 59 years Nigeria has continued to fail. As a distinct people, we have the onerous responsibility to take the bull by the horn and create 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 from economies of scale can better aggregate resources for capital intensive infrastructure 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 as well as many African countries. It is thus a region that can effectively mobilise its population; human and material, at home and in the Diaspora for unprecedented regional development through a public/private/Diaspora partnership under the auspices of a regional investment/development corporation.

We hereby again call on the governors of the Southeast region to initiate a Marshall plan and following from its recommendations, float a regional investment/development corporation to 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 the defunct ENDC will then invest in major capacity-building infrastructure across the region such as super-highways (with tollgates), real estate with particular emphasis on high density buildings/skyscrapers (for population management), establishment of strategic industries such as steel plants, refineries, cement plants and the creation of special industrial parks/free trade zones across states in the region so as to lead in innovative start-ups and industrialisation. In the area of tourism, the corporation will seek partnership with international consortiums in view of establishing major game parks such as Disneyland Park amongst others.

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

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

We have a rare opportunity to 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 research centres amongst others. We put African literature on the global map with Chinua Achebe’s epic “Things Fall Apart”, we put African movies on the global map with the “Nollywood” movie industry. There is no reason why we can’t put our region in the world map of development through aggressive regional development.

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

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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