Igbo leaders, who made this call include First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amechi; former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; former Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, Professor Anya O. Anya; former Presidential Candidate, Professor Pat Utomi; Professor Osita Ogbu; Senator Chris Anyanwu; Professor Barth Nnaji; and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche.
They spoke at the zoom/virtual presentation and launch of Igbo Data Base – Igbodum by a leading Igbo pressure and intellectual group, Nzuko Ummuna, led by Professor Pat Utomi and Mr Ngozi Odumuko.
The data base will have the record of Igbo professionals, business men, educationists, and others in walks of life all over the world detailing their work and accomplishments.
Professor Pat Utomi, who heads the board of Nzuko Ummuna, lamented that the Igbo had been on the back seat in Nigeria in the last 50 years because of what happened during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. ‘Now, ‘‘there is need for Igbo unity and collaboration to develop Igboland.”
Chairman of the event, Senator Anyim, said with the launch of the Igbo data base, history was being made because for the first time the Igbo were aggregating themselves.
”Over the years, Igbo have not been able to place value on their strength and contributions to national development. There is need for development of Igboland. Every Igbo should approach the project with patriotism because it will impact on us and the nation,” he said.
Also speaking, Mbazulike Amaechi said Igbo must shun too much talk and do the needful. ”During our time, we will do what should be done. Today, there is so much talk. We have wealthy people abroad. Let them come back and develop Igboland. There is nothing Igbo cannot do for themselves. Look at Israel, with technological, and educational power, it is a force to reckon with in the world now.
Let Igbo not focus on pursuit of political power but look for other powers – technological, economic, educational, etc and develop Igbo land, and create employment for our people.”
On his part, Professor Anya, said the initiative fits the challenges of this time and should be embraced.
Recalling that Igbo embraced western education in 1930s later than some of her peers in Nigeria, he said by 1964, the Eastern region had become the fastest growing economy in Black world and measuring up in many areas of life through education
He lamented that today, education is being derided in Igbo land, and urged a return to education, which he said is the key for returning to the zenith.
His words: ”Igbo and Nigeria are in dangerous times now. Where we are now, we must recognise that education was the leverage we used to rise from the bottom to the top. Now we deride education. It is still what we need to get to the top.
”Now competitive advantage has taken over from comparative advantage because of education and knowledge power. We must use what we have to become the first knowledge economy in Africa. The resources for doing this are available. It is how to develop the resources to capture the young that is lacking
”Now, our youths don’t appreciate our history hence the divide between the youths and elders. People are talking about 2023 presidency, which is not the priority of Ndigbo now because we don’t know if there will be election in 2023 because the crisis we are facing now, only God will help us.”
Professor Barth Nnaji aligned with Amaechi and Anya, adding that economic development would make the Igbo achieve their desires including political power.
Noting that the Jews were now a force to reckon with in America and Europe because of their education and economic power, he urged Ndigbo to emulate the Jews.
His words: ”We can aspire for political power but must focus on economic development. We require knowledge , exposure, intelligence and capacity to achieve economic development. Having diversity all over the world is an asset. But we lack understanding of our full capacity. Let’s have a way to reach and touch our people. That is why the database is important.”
Concurring, Prince Chibudom Nwuche said: ”Igbo need to come together from across the states. Our country is at cross roads. It is important Igbo come together. It is imperative for Igbo to forge unity across the Igbo states and those in the South-South.
”In my short history on earth, I have not seen our country so divided. There is need for Igbo to speak with one voice.”
On her part, Senator Anyanwu, said there was need for Ndigbo to tell their story. Disclosing that she was in a committee where the idea was worked on, she said the Igbo data base will help to develop Igboland.
Also, Professor Osita Ogbu, who chairs the Alaigbo Stabilisation Fund, ASF, a committee of 54 Igbo leaders set up by Ohanaeze Ndigbo and South-East governors, last July, said he is happy with the current initiative.
”I am happy with this initiative. After 50 years of the civil war, we are still talking of marginalisation. We can move forward with economic development like Japan and Barcelona in Spain,” he said.