Ugwuanyi, Elumelu call for southeast regional integration

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu (left); Chairman, Heirs Holding, Tony Elumelu; Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Director-General of Oganiru, Ike Chioke,  during the opening ceremony of the Oganiru Enugu State Investment Summit at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu …yesterday

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu (left); Chairman, Heirs Holding, Tony Elumelu; Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Director-General of Oganiru, Ike Chioke, during the opening ceremony of the Oganiru Enugu State Investment Summit at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu …yesterday

Governors of the southeast geopolitical zone have been told to pursue a policy of regional economic integration, as a way of developing the region and opening up the huge market potential of the zone.

Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu, made the call yesterday at the opening of a three-day Enugu State Investment Summit themed, “Beyond Oil: Fostering Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development.”

The state governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, corroborated that the mission of transforming the state into an economic powerhouse, and a preferred destination for investment, was part of efforts to restore the status and glory of Enugu as the political, and administrative capital of southeastern Nigeria.

Ugwuanyi explained that if this must be achieved in the face of dwindling oil returns, “We must think outside the box, just like our founding fathers in the old eastern region, who developed and relied on palm and other agricultural products, to build key infrastructure and other social amenities in the region.

He identified other areas deserving government attention to include, agriculture and agro-allied enterprises, solid minerals, power generation and distribution. Others include, oil and gas, transportation, real estate development, ICT, healthcare services, education, entertainment, tourism and others.

The governor noted that, “the extensive urban and rural development initiatives of the government, have also helped to open new vistas of investment opportunities in virtually all sectors of the economy.”

Ugwuanyi assured investors of a favorable business environment, which would be supported by security, social amenities, and tax incentives.

 

Elumelu, outlined the need for regional cooperation and turning the eastern region into a big economic bloc, rather than a collection of more states.

 

He called on the governors in the zone to come together and attract private sector partnership, by harmonising policies and building railways to link the states.

Elumelu urged them to concentrate on projects that would impact on the people, while creating incentives to attract investors, abolishing multiple taxes and checking communal strife.

He also called for a rethink of the educational policies of the southeast, stating, “it is one region endowed with hardworking people, who can become employers and drive the needed change in the economy.”



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