Crisis of values, lack of unity in practical terms and absence of joint planning of development has been identified as some of the often over-looked factors militating against the socio-economic development of the South-east by former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji.
Nnaji, who is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Geometric Power Limited, made the assertion in his key note lecture during the 2nd South-east Media Summit, which took place at Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu, yesterday.
Speaking on the theme, “Role of the Media in South-east Integration”, Nnaji stated that there is fast erosion of culture and values in the zone, stating that societies which have a high stock of social capital develop faster than those which have a low stock of such values as; trust, loyalty, honesty, solidarity and cooperation.
“We certainly do not want and should not allow our beloved Igboland to become the Sicily (where mafia and criminal organizations exist to make the area perpetually backward) of Nigeria and so the assault against our sacred cultural values must be fought with all our might and talent, “the erstwhile minister said.
“Our culture cherishes honour, integrity, trust and profound respect for the dignity of the human person. But these values are fast being eroded. There is perhaps nothing which dramatizes the collapse of values than the new phenomenon of kidnappings for ransom”. He identified insecurity as a critical area of integration where the South-east governments can work together by jointly procuring tracking equipment, the type used in Abuja by federal security agencies; and devise security information sharing strategy.”
Nnaji harped on the imperative of drawing up a long-term development plan with all the Igbo-speaking areas; including those in Delta and Rivers states as well as the diaspora. He said that such plan should include how to bring bid businesses such as state-of-the-art hospitals, high quality educational institutions, electricity and other projects, which will enable thousands of Igbo people working in places like IBM, General Motors, Ford Motors, General Electric, Motorola, Massachusetts General Hospital and the rest in the diaspora to return home.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the occasion and senator representing Abia Central, Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, stated that proper integration should be an added advantage to the people of the zone since they are already industrious, courageous and highly determined.
Earlier in his remarks, the National Vice-President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), South-East Zone, Deacon Christopher Isiguzo, stated that journalists in the zone, as agenda setters, decided to champion the course of contributing to the development of the zone.