A MAJOR step towards the rapid transformation of the Southeast.and Igbo-speaking communities in neigbouring states was taken on Wednesday by Ohanaeze Ndigbo as it inaugurated a steering committee for Alaigbo Stabilization Fund.
Prof Osita Ogbu, an erstwhile economic adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo chairs the 54-member committee.
The panel is mandated to among others, articulate strategies, mobilise resources and coordinate policies “to assuage the deep yearnings of Ndigbo for a prosperous developed and happy homeland.”
Inaugurating the committee in a Zoom virtual meeting with the members, Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General Nnia Nwodo, said that the Southeast Governors Forum, the leadership of the apex pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation and the entire Igbo nation had resolved to urgently address the current infrastructural deficit and developmental gap in the zone.
He stated that the infrastructural deficit and developmental gap was occasioned by the total neglect of the zone by the Federal Government since the Nigerian civil war ended.
Nwodo added that the stakeholders were determined to build a homeland that is” industrialised with modern world-class physical and social infrastructure, competitive, attractive for investments and generates employment for the teeming youthful population.”
The President-General said to achieve these, Ndigbo needed a new and creative funding mechanism with Alaigbo Stabilization Fund as its cornerstone.
Nwodo listed other terms of reference of the Ogbu-led committee as “ making recommendations for the establishment, institutionalizing governance and development, structure and organisation, funding and sustainability of the fund to ensure it operates on sound legal organizational and financial principles, including making good returns on investments as well as to fulfill the social and developmental needs of Igboland.”
The President-General, therefore, charged the committee to carry out its assignment assiduously so that the benefits of the fund would spread throughout all Igbo speaking states and even percolate to neighbouring states so that “our the kith and kin in those states would also benefit from the scheme.”
Nwodo thanked the members of the committee for volunteering to serve in the body, especially Ogbu, who he said offered his wealth of experience in the United Nations and the Federal Government
He also thanked the Prof Charles Soludo-led Ohanaeze Planning and Strategy Committee, whose behind the scene advice evolved into the setting up of the fund.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo poured special encomiums on the governors of the Southeast for standing solidly behind the establishment of Alaigbo Stabilization Fund without which it could not have been realised, adding that “the people will never forget this crop of governors for giving them a new lease of life.”
Although Nwodo did not state the amount that was envisioned to kick-start the development plan, his Media Adviser, Emeka Attamah, explained to The Nation that the committee would decide that..
“They were inaugurated based on that. The members have to take into account all the needs of Alaigbo and make an estimate,” Attamah said.
Ogbu, a Professor of Development Economics and also a former National Planning minister,. commended the selfless service, visionary leadership and clarity of expression of Nwodo.
Ogbu said that Nwodo, working with the tacit support of the governors, has made his tenure as Ohanaeze Ndigbo leader intelligent, purposeful and exemplary.
He stated that the fire lit by the governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership would burn far into the future.
Ogbu, who implored the governors to remain fastidious as the anchor of the stabilisation fund, pledged that the enthusiasm shown by the members of the committee would ensure that they came out with far-reaching positive conclusions.
The committee is expected to submit its report soon.