By Chinenye Nwaogu and Sam Hart
On Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at the Ishmael Ikpeazu Memorial Library and Centre for Scientific Leadership, Umuobiakwa, Obingwa LGA, Abia State, the cream of Igbo Leaders across all strata will gather to hold a Colloquium on a pressing and timely subject: How Ndigbo can leverage their God-given abilities in every sphere of human endeavour to better the lot of Alaigbo.
This conversation series is the contribution of Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu to scholarship in Alaigbo and Nigeria.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has already cemented his place in the historical firmament in Nigeria as a scholar in governance, a title bestowed on him by another erudite scholar, Professor Eleazar Uche Ikonne.
It will also be noted that the incumbent President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor had at a function in Lagos a couple of years ago, named Governor Ikpeazu as the emerging high priest of Igbo renaissance.
Tuesday gathering therefore is Governor Ikpeazu’s further offering on the altar of socio-political discourse to properly situate the place of Ndigbo in Nigeria’s evolution.
There is no gainsaying the fact that since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, Ndigbo have distinguished themselves individually, politically and economically. The story of the struggle with British colonialists reveals Ndigbo as a very strong race. The prowess of Ndigbo in commerce and enterprise from that period until date is well documented.
However, these recognizable strengths have not been leveraged to forge a united, social cohesive strength to engage in the Nigerian polity.
Igbos have made global and national history as a people blessed with inherent capabilities to build strong and positive foundations for growth. However, over the years, these individual exploits, even at the global stage, have not reflected in a collective political and socio-economic development of Ndigbo and indeed, Alaigbo.
Igbos have been noted as the biggest investors in the Nigerian economic space. Across the length and breadth of Nigeria, Igbos have visible business and commercial interests running into trillions of dollars.
The Igbo apprenticeship model has been noted by no less a reputable institution than Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, as the most formidable and robust entrepreneurial incubation platform in the world.
In academics, records available from ivy league institutions in the best centres of learning across the globe reveal that Igbos have made remarkable success amongst their peers in egalitarian environments where level playing ground and fairness is practiced.
In a nutshell, Ndigbo remain a race that no sane society desiring to make progress can ignore.
However, the realities on ground within Alaigbo show a people who have not harnessed these advantages to turn Igbo land into the region of strength in the Nigerian economic and political space.
The biggest question on the lips of all Igbos today focuses on the future of Ndigbo in the contemporary Nigerian political and socioeconomic firmament.
Opinion and thesis have been articulated and advanced in different fora and by groupings to resolve this seemingly intractable quagmire. This colloquium is therefore Governor Ikpeazu’s desire to elicit strong conversations and add to the avalanche of ideas, but more importantly, narrow down discussions with a more practical, functional and tangible roadmap that Ndigbo can reflect on.
It is for this reason that such Igbo great thinkers as Prof. George Obiozor, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Sir Frank Nneji, Darl Uzu, Dr Pascal Dozie and Ide John Udeagbala will gather at Umuobiakwa on tomorrow, October 18, 2022, to synthesise this thesis.
Governor Ikpeazu believes that glowing tribute should be paid to our forerunner leaders in all spheres of life who have laid this enviable and solid foundation for Ndigbo to remain a force to reckon with even on the global stage. He believes that our ‘’What Next’’ questions should henceforth occupy the minds of Ndigbo.
The big question should revolve around whether Ndigbo have properly accessed their strengths – politically, economically and socially. The next series of questions will then reflect on how they have leveraged these strengths to really make Alaigbo the centre of excellence in these spheres.
It has been argued that how the Igbo, as a people, reflect and resolve these issues will form the foundation of efforts to position Ndigbo in the Nigerian project. It will also reignite the
Igbo values, norms and character of ingenuity, hard work, enterprise and selflessness and make Ndigbo a solid race in the political and socioeconomic landscape called Nigeria.
Having been around for some time now and from the vantage position as Governor of Abia, a state nature conferred with strategic geographical advantage as the epicentre of the old eastern region and her commercial confluence, Governor Ikpeazu has an idea that for Ndigbo to play big in the Nigerian project, beyond having a united and enlightened group agenda, they must play using their best and biggest assets.
Whilst it will be arguable that Ndigbo have done well politically, nobody, even their most virulent critics, can dismiss their entrepreneurial and business strength in Nigeria and beyond.
What Governor Okezie Ikpeazu wants to leave on the table for discussion, however, is how Ndigbo will leverage their most formidable advantage to secure a permanent and prominent seat at the table called Nigeria.
This thought process is what led him to conceive with strong private sector flavour, the Enyimba Economic City project as a global business hub supported by world class infrastructure and services that will become the industrial, manufacturing, trading hub through which Nigeria and the rest of Africa can become a major global production centre.
This pan-Nigerian project fits into the bill of making Nigeria a strong player in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area regime, a window into the global market space. This project is the deal maker that will redefine the industrial and economic landscape of Nigeria and position Ndi Igbo properly on the economic space that cannot be ignored in political conversations in Nigeria.
For Governor Ikpeazu, weaving this through successfully should be the agenda for the future of Ndigbo in the Nigerian political and socioeconomic firmament and that is the conversation that will be had on Tuesday.
This event is designed to be an annual conclave will be held on the 18th of October every year to mark the birthday of Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu.