A coalition of South-East Youth Leaders,(COSEYL), an umbrella body of all youth organizations in the South-East geopolitical zone, has made a strong case for the revitalization of moribund industries in the region.
The Coalition regretted that the industries built under the former Premier of the Eastern Region, Dr. Michael Okpara, which were the economic mainstay of the zone have been abandoned by the present crops of leaders and have brought Southeast backward economically.
The coalition also said it is important that South-East governors, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Southeast Legislators, members of the various State Houses of Assembly, local government chairmen, traditional rulers, industrious sons and daughters of the region, including those in the diaspora think and looks inward in search of common destiny.
COSEYL, in a release signed by its President-General, Goodluck Ibem and Secretary-General, Comrade Kanice Igwe and forwarded to NAIJARAY on Wednesday, said the revitalization of the dilapidated industries became needful given the current realities facing not just the Nigerian economy, but that of the entire world in a post COVID-19 economic regime.
According to the release which partly read, “We wish to remind the five governors that they are occupying a seat and position which the late Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara sat and held in addition to four states of Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom and yet served creditably well from 1959 to 1966. History remembers and recalls that by 1966 the Southeast was referred to as the “fastest-growing economy in Africa”. Today, looking at the region our fathers who lived through the good old days lament for the future we the youths are being bequeathed with.
“No economy, sub-state, regional or subregional can thrive without industrialization. Today, with both macro and micro-economic policies, the need has always been how best to grow industrially. We remember that when as a premier, Michael Okpara embarked on laudable projects through Eastern Regional Development Corporation to achieve huge industrial success through agricultural revolution. We know there used to be industries most of which were built by Okpara which, unfortunately, today are no longer standing.
“We wish to mention here, as may suffice, for now: Nigercem Nkalagu. “Hotel Presidential Enugu, “Enyimba Hotel Aba,
“Scientific Incubation Centre Aba, “Aba Textile Mills, “Standard Shoe Factory Owerri, “Nigergas, “Nigersteel Company, “Glass Industry Aba, “Imo Rubber Nigeria Limited, “Resin paint industry – Aboh Mbaise, “Avutu Poultry – Obowo, “Paper packaging Industry – Owere – Ebiri Orlu, “Moribund Owerri – Onitsha Road industrial layout, “Modern Ceramics Umuahia and so on.
“Today, the majority of these revenue sources are abandoned and casts a picture of gloom and dilapidation; some abandoned like biblical Babel tower with most facilities and equipment there vandalised.
”Some are occupied by hoodlums and mentally challenged persons. Today, while oil sources keep dwindling and federal allocation shrinks, only creativity and initiation of the same can shore up revenue for the region. While this is the case, some of the facilities mentioned can still be revitalised. No government has ever made a move to assess the condition of Aba Textile Mills and other such facilities within the Southeast. This, sadly, is not in the interest of the region nor does it match the pace former pioneers set from the 1950s.
“Time for all the elected and occupiers of positions of trust with the region to come together to salvage the future. The benefits of the revitalization of these glorious legacies cannot be gainsaid. If these facilities are revived and repositioned, jobs will be created, crime reduced and even the government tax base will widen. In some cases, privatization could still be the ultimate such as seen with Golden Guinea Breweries Umuahia a near-comatose wasteland now almost revived”.