( HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES )
Okpara’s and Ojukwu’s plan was for PH to be our Lagos…but the economy would be oil driven.
Most of the oil wells and infrastructure in today’s Rivers State up till 1967 were developed by Okpara. Chief Nwodo, Nnia Nwodo’s father was the Regional Minister for Trade and Commerce at the time. He negotiated most of the agreements with Shell and the UK govt
Gowon and Awolowo nationalised those assets in 1967 without paying a Kobo in compensation…and forced all the oil companies to relocate to Lagos.
Most of the refineries that NNPC began rolling out after the war were already in the industrial plan the the East had for Port Harcourt.
At the time,oil and solid minerals were under Regional control
The East lost everything…so Lagos and the north could prosper
Okpara’s plan for Enugu was that there would be a 200km industrial corridor running between Emene where the airport was located and Nkalagu where the cement plant was located
Again, Sir Ojukwu was Nkalagu’s chairman
The corridor was to focus on auto assembly and industrial automation. A steel plant was already located in Emene and Kaiser in California was to locate a car assembly and a plant for engines and turbines there in 1968.
The corridor was to mimicking the Ruhr industrial Valley in Germany under Otto Von Bismarck. The war destroyed all that
Onitsha was to drive the East retail economy – a shopping Emporium for all Nigerians and indeed West Africans. It was opened in 1956 I believe. And by 1960, it had attained its purpose. Its location gave the Anambra Igbo a head start in trading…a dominance that holds till date
Umuahia and Umudike were to drive our agro based and biotechnology industries. That is why the root research lab and brewery were located there
Enugu was to be the academic headquarters and the headquarters for our mechanical engineering industries
Zik brought in the US firm – Arthur D. Little as macroeconomic consultants. They advised that a university be set up to train manpower to feed these emerging industries
Nsukka thus was the first university in the country to offer degree programs in engineering, business, marketing, accounting, law etc….
Afam in Rivers State and Oji River in Enugu provided the power that drove most of these industrial investments
Then there were cement plants set up – Nkalagu, Port Harcourt Bulk cement and Calabar. Calabar took off after the war but Ojukwu and Okpara had concluded every arrangement for its take off before the coup of 1966
Sir Louis Phillip Odumegwu Ojukwu was the Chairman of Eastern Nigeria Commodity Board (ENCB) and Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC)
ENDC raised most of the funds for industrial development from both internal taxes, thecreturns from the ENCB and borrowings from the CDC – Commonwealth Development Corporation
Today’s Imo, Abia, Rivers and Cross River were our wealthy cows. Most of the palm plantations were located there. Jaja of Opobo sourced most of the palm kernels and palm oil that he exported to Milner Brothers in Liverpool from these places
Okpara and Ojukwu simply went back to those ancient paths
We must teach our children our history. Igbos lost everything after the war. When I say everything I mean it. The sheer momentum at nation building through massive infrastructure development was scuttled
But it is not late. We can rebuild from the ruins of the last 54 years. Enough said brother.
Credit: MAC EZE