Owerri, Imo State – The South-East Economic and Security Summit 2023 kicked off today in Owerri, Imo State, with South East Governors, dignitaries, and stakeholders from across the region coming together to address pressing issues affecting the area. The summit was marked by a call for unity, cooperation, and the establishment of an Economic Development Fund to stimulate growth and development.
In his welcoming address, Imo State Governor, His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma, emphasized the need for the people of the South East to reflect on the challenges facing the region. Governor Uzodimma highlighted the remarkable achievements of the Igbo people in various fields, underscoring their contributions to Nigeria’s intellectual, scientific, and technological progress.
However, he expressed deep concern over the current lack of unity and cohesion among the Igbo community. Governor Uzodimma pointed out that division within the Igbo identity was detrimental to the progress of the region, quoting the adage, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” He also lamented the trend where some individuals distance themselves from their Igbo heritage.
The Governor stressed that the South East region could not afford to ignore the pressing issue of insecurity. He noted that the escalating security challenges had compelled the Igbo people to unite and cooperate to counter these threats effectively. Governor Uzodimma asserted that it was time for the Igbo community to engage in self-examination and acknowledge the security challenges they faced.
Governor Uzodimma argued that the security crisis had forged a new sense of partnership and collaboration among the South East states. He emphasized the urgency of the situation, saying, “We are surrounded by dangerous criminals who want to decimate us.” He decried the senseless shedding of Igbo blood and the rise of non-state actors obstructing the pursuit of livelihoods.
To address these challenges, Governor Uzodimma called for a concerted effort within the South East. He urged the Igbo people to pool their resources, cooperate, and revive the spirit of the defunct Igbo State Union, which had played a pivotal role in driving private sector development projects such as schools and hospitals in the past.
Additionally, the Governor advocated for support for Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, a prominent Igbo socio-cultural organization, and proposed the establishment of a South East Economic Development Fund. This fund, he explained, would finance research initiatives aimed at bringing prosperity to the region and its people.
The South East Economic and Security Summit 2023 marks a significant step towards addressing the challenges of insecurity and fostering unity and collaboration among the Igbo community. Governor Uzodimma’s call for a renewed focus on economic development and security underscores the commitment of South East leaders to the well-being and progress of the region. As the summit progresses, stakeholders are expected to engage in further discussions and deliberations to chart a path forward for the South East.