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A move is underway by leaders of the southeast geopolitical zone to forge economic integration and reposition the region for development.The initiative will have five governors and an array of prominent Igbo leaders from religious, economic, educational and political platforms rubbing minds together to tackle decrepit infrastructure and leadership void in the region.
Under the aegis of South East Leadership and Development Initiative (SELDI), the move stems from “a near state of hopeless that has befallen the southeast since the end of the Civil War and in particular, since 1999, when the present democratic experience took off.”
The leaders, it was learnt, reviewed the state of the zone in the past 17 years and concluded: “The present democratic dispensation has not helped the area.”Besides governors of the region, the initiative is also being driven by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; former Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anayoku; former Ministers Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Prof. Charles Soludo, and Prof. Barth Nnaji.
Other include Dr Idika Kalu Idika, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Prof. Pita Ejiofor, Prof. Elo Amucheazi, Rear Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), former Governor Peter Obi, Dr Orji Kalu, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Prof. Philip Emeagwali, and author, Chimamanda Adichie.
A source told The Guardian: “The assumption that the Federal Government should play a leading role in reactivating the moribund infrastructure that stares the zone in the face is the greatest undoing of the region.”
If you look at it, critically, you will know that over 80 per cent of our active youths have remained without jobs, thus wasting their productive age. If we have the quantum of investments that have remained moribund working, we won’t have the level of unemployment existing in the southeast.”
A document obtained exclusively by The Guardian said SELDI “is dedicated to transforming and fostering the development of Nigeria, especially the southeast region, focusing on leadership development in order to change the fortunes of the people, and giving hope to present and future generations. SELDI is the response to the developmental gaps and challenges that confronted the southeast after the Civil War, which devastated the region.”