Let’s Fashion Out Nigeria’s New Economic Hub in Old Eastern Region, Nnaji, Ex-Power Minister Urges Leaders

Former Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji, has started wooing economic and political leaders of the defunct Eastern Region to sink their perceived differences and ills of the past, in a honest bid to lay a new foundation of economic prosperity for the children of the area.

According to him, fashioning out a new sustainable economic hub in Nigeria with states of the old Eastern Region is very possible if leaders have the will to do so.

With the exception of Delta and Edo States that emerged from the ashes of the defunct Mid-West Region, states that sprang up from the old Eastern Region are, comprises Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers.

Nnaji is stressing that the logic of the economic reality does not favour doing things the old way. As such, he is urging leaders of the nine states to begin putting their differences aside, and start working more closely for the rapid development of his envisioned new economic hub.

According to him, “no state can develop as rapidly as it would have wished if it does not plan development policies and implement them in concert with neighboring states in the region, especially since they share a lot of cultural and historical affinities.”

Nnaji, a preeminent industrial engineering professor is seeking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial ticket in Enugu State.

Director-General of his campaign team, Ricky Agu, a lawyer, in a statement says the nine states of the defunct Eastern Region need common services like railway which will drive mass transit.

“It is not buses which drive mass transit in the modern world, contrary to the popular notion in Nigeria”, the former minister told the campaign team.

“It is time to start thinking and dreaming big rather than continuing with the traditional way of doing small things and expecting big results”, the statement says.

Arguing, he said Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia did not become development miracles and attaining living standards of the Western world within two or three decades by continuing with the traditional systems which were not efficient or effective or competitive.

Nnaji explained that in this era of globalization, “it will not be right for the Eastern states or even other parts of the Nigerian federation to continue to attempt to develop like silos, each in its own cocoon or small world”.

Continuing, the industrial engineer said leaders of different sections of the country should hold meaningful conferences on how to industrialize their areas, so that hundreds of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who graduate yearly  from different tertiary institutions within and outside  the country in disciplines like computer engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial physics, industrial microbiology, computer science, industrial engineering and others could find where to practise their professions in the country.

“Eastern Nigeria was able to have one of the world’s quickest growing economies in the 1960s because there were a lot of industries in places like Nkalagu, Port Harcourt, Aba, Emene, Calabar and Obudu which hired many of our people and the pay was competitive even by international standards”.

Regretting the collapse of these enterprises, Nnaji who is the Chairman of Geometric Power Group which is about to commission the $600m Aba Power Project in Abia State, adds that “Nigerians, both young and old, are compelled to move in large numbers to Lagos and Abuja daily in search of jobs and business opportunities which are shrinking by the day while the population increases”.

Some Nigerians, he continued, seek the greener pasture by going abroad through all manner of means.

“Many reach Libya via Chad in the hopes of boarding rickety and dangerous canoes to southern Italy, and frequently end up tragically.

“No state government can stem phenomena like this, hence the need for different sections of Nigeria to work together on key development issues.

“The geopolitical zones of the country should be centres of industrial development, and not zones for expressing ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments against one another”.

Nnaji has dismissed suggestions that joint state development projects and programmes would lead to fresh fears of domination by some states.

“Each state will, of course, retain its degree of autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution”, he said.

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