South East Economic Summit an opening to 21st century development
Without doubt the formation and commencement of South- East Economic Summit in Enugu is among the best economic effort and decision made so far by South East zone. Although this is a beginning and nothing substantial has been done but this shows a radical departure from incoherency overview to a strategic outlook and planning. The people and governors of SE deserve recognition and respect for bringing this to fruition.
Before a dream and objective can be actualized and accomplished, first and foremost a strategic planning which connotes brain storming and summit must precede effective implementation. The summit held at Nike lake Hotel, Enugu is the initial move but it does not end there. For at the summit a strategic map must be conceived and fabricated that can become the compass to destination of the targeted goal.
The South East Summit outline the main objective which "is aimed at finding practical solutions and strategy towards turning around the deplorable state of the economy of the South East as a contiguous bloc and the creation of an integrated road map for the transformation of the zone. Other objectives include: To develop a Blue print for the rapid transformation of States in the South East Zone." This objective sounds great but it is a tall order that can be achieved and implemented when everybody work together especially the private and public sectors.
We have to be realistic that a government does not have all the answers neither does it have the money and resources to fulfill all the targeted goals. This synergy between the private and public sectors is inevitable because the limited resources should be combined for maximum output and result. In most of the cases the ultimate function of the government is to create a stable economic landscape that makes it possible for the private sector to thrive and succeed. The proper and conducive environment together with ample security makes it possible for trade, commercialism and capitalism to take hold.
The government does necessarily guarantee success but it can become a partner in making a economy thrive by providing social amenities and infrastructures. When government protects life and property the problem of robbery, vandalism and kidnapping can be controlled to the barest minimum. The south East zone must squeeze the problem of social and security instabilities to make citizens and investors comfortable to stay put and invest their precious resources. This is not the time to think small and to take a gradualist and minimalist pathway. This is the time and this is the summit to think big and to plan big. The summit must be bold and big with its overviews, outlooks and planning.
This leads us to the issues of job and health. Both of these works together to re-enforce each other, for a healthy people are also a wealthy people. The wellbeing of society and productive people are measured on their health being. Therefore the state of heath must be a top priority. The issues of poor environmental sanitation and contaminated drinking water must be improved in order to put in Bay the prevalence of borne water diseases - diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis and many others.
In the article on South East governors on building progressive states, I wrote:
But at the interim South East has major problems of erosion, poor transportation, shortage of power, poverty and many others. And the governors cannot solve them by engaging in small talks and donating money to inconsequential organizations and building patches of roads here and there. Where are the big dreams, big visions and the great innovations and ideas to transform Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi States? The governors and states of South East must have a concerted effort and coordination grounded on industry and initiatives to bring affirmative achievements to the citizens of their respective states.
There is a large deposit of coal in Enugu without usage or consumption. The governors can come together and set up a committee to recommend how the coal can be extracted and used to supply electricity to industrial areas in South east geo-political zone.
With same spirit of cooperation they can solve the problem of road congestion and accidents as goods are being transported by trailers from Port Harcourt seaport to the cities by constructing rail tracks from the seaport to rest of the major cities in the zone.
Enugu State University Teaching Hospital can be turned into an international center for medical research with emphasis on malaria, heart problems and other diseases affecting Nigerians and Africans.
The South East governors can form Enterprise and commercial partnership with objectives grounded on sound principle, producing common-sense ideas and inducements to attract substantial investments into the zone. They can start by creating one or two industrial zones in each of the five states that make up the zone. The partnership entity can come up with solutions to address the issue of electricity and water especially in those industrial zones. The governors cannot afford to wait for the Federal government for ever.
With same mindset they can attack the problem of kidnapping and robbery confronting the geo-political zone. To diminish delinquencies and criminalities especially among the youths the problem of unemployment must be addressed. The government must come into some sort of partnership with the private industry and marketers to address joblessness among the youths especially university graduates. http://www.afripol.org/afripol/item/277-great-achievements-ideas-and-innovations-have-eluded-south-east-governors.html
Finally the on going summit at Enugu is something worthy of celebrating for the time is long overdue: For it is momentous for South East coming together not to eat and drink but to formulate policies and ideas for trade, tourism, peace and goodwill for families of the zone and for the greater Nigerian family.
Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. http://afripol.org/