Ikpeazu’s call for Igbo entrepreneurs to invest at home

Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor

Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor

By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

Recently, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in a town hall meeting with the Igbo Business Community in Lagos dealt with an issue that has substantially retarded development in Igbo land. The issue is the craving of Igbo businessmen to invest outside Igbo land.

The situation, according to the governor, has far reaching implications on Ndigbo. One, it has contributed to high rate of unemployment among Igbo youths. Also, the unemployment rate has in turn endangered security within the Igbo nation.

Ikpeazu’s concern calls for deep reflection .Igbo entrepreneurs over the years are noted for siting business concerns outside Igbo land, especially Lagos, thereby repatriating resources which could have been employed to develop Igbo land and provide ample employment opportunities for the youths.
Often times, these entrepreneurs support their actions with the security situation in Igbo land. There is a serious correlation between insecurity and unemployment. If these business concerns were sited in Igbo land, the energies of thousands of Igbo youths could have been meaningfully engaged through employment.

Another implication is that these Igbo entrepreneurs increase the population and federal allocations of these areas they site heir businesses at he expense of their states of origin.
These abroad- based Igbo entrepreneurs do not participate in the electoral processes back home because they do not obtain their voter’s cards from their home states. When they do, according to Ikpeazu, “they worsen the security challenges back home by bringing thugs and other miscreants to Igbo land to protect us and campaign for us without minding the influence of these imported thugs on the local youths. We also advertise wealth so negatively that our youths feel that all they need to succeed is to travel to Lagos or Abuja. More often than not, these youths end up under Lagos/Abuja bridges where they acquire all sorts of criminal indoctrination. When they have fully graduated they return to the east and practice their evil skills”.

However, the Ikpeazu led administration should be commended in its efforts to provide employment opportunities for the youths in the state. The government has designed a new technical education programme tagged “Education For Employment (E4E)” with the engagement of United Kingdom-based Kiara College to revive vocational and technical education in the state.

The E4E concept is to ensure that education leads to employment by imbuing the youths with the technical skills that would enable them become either self-employed or sought after by others.
The pilot schools are Boys technical College, Aba, Government Technical College, Ohafia, and Afara Technical College, Umuahia.Also,the emphasis is on the technical component of the education at Abia Polytechnic, College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu, among others.

The proposed industrial clusters for processing agricultural produce, leather and garment, and oil and gas to be sited in different locations in the state, would go a long way in providing employment opportunities for teeming Abia youths.

Like Gov. Ikpeazu admonished the Igbo Business Community in Lagos thus”It is not enough to complain about insecurity in the east and use that as excuse for not investing in Igbo land or relocating to Igbo land post retirement. Every one of us here can contribute to improve security in Igbo land by investing in Igbo land to create jobs for our youths as well as returning home to serve as positive role models to our young minds. We need you to mentor the young and share experiences with them. We also need you to be close enough homes to advice government based on realities in Igbo land as against text book postulates and external experiences that are not relevant to our peculiar challenges”, something must be done urgently to address this ugly situation.

Ukegbu, a public affairs analyst, wrote in this piece from Umuahia, Abia State.

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