By Athan Agbakwuru, Owerri
Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has extended a hand of fellowship and partnership to the citizens of the state in Diaspora with a call on them to invest in the state to boost the economy of the state.
Governor Ihedioha made the call in a keynote address he presented on the occasion of the Imo State Diaspora Summit held at the Sam Mbakwe Hall, I mo Concorde Hotel, New Owerri.
The governor who stated that the summit could not have come at a better time than now recalled that he had embarked on overseas trips to interact with Imolites domiciled abroad, on assumption of office, described the theme of the summit, “Mobilizing Diaspora Resources for Participation in the Rebuild Imo Agenda,” as most apt.
He said, “It has been put together, pursuant to the efforts of government to rebuild, reposition and positively transform the economic and social fortunes of the State. Today, we are looking to harnessing our collective efforts to salvage the State from declining economic fortunes, worsened by eight years of mal-administration.”
He expressed appreciation to the Imo Diaspora Community for their support and contributions to the development of the country in general and Imo State in particular pointing out “since assumption to office, I have taken up our “Macedonian Calls,” to various countries, namely: the US, Germany, U.K, Turkey, France etc. inviting you all to “Come over to Imo State and partner with us.”
He further appreciated the efforts of many of the Diasporans who have come over with varied proposals and enquiries on how to key into the ‘Rebuild Imo’ agenda and noted that he didn’t hesitate to approve the hosting of a session that will serve as a platform to fertilize these initiatives.
Ihedioha harped on the need for Imolites abroad to think home and come back to invest in the state under the ‘Aku Ruo Ulo initiative’ as enunciated by Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa in his presentation at the last Ahiajoku Colloquium, held in Owerri.
According to him, the intervention of the Diasporans would make our state a leading commercial, tourism and industrial hub in the region, boost our economy and improve the living condition of our people.
He added, “Similarly, some of you have established businesses in Imo State in various areas especially in the Hospitality industry and more. I, therefore, use this opportunity to express the gratitude of the government and our people for your contributions thus far.
“The saying, however, goes that, “good is not enough where better is possible.” Let me use the Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital as a reference point for elaborate diaspora direct investment in Imo State. Indeed, I am considering declaring the designation of that area in Mgbirichi as a dedicated Medical City/ Village to promote medical excellence and tourism. For our Diaspora therefore, we believe that the best is yet to come.
“Let me once again reference the Sea Turtle initiative of China. These were Chinese nationals who studied and worked abroad and whose knowledge and resources became that catalyst for Chinese economic growth. The same went for India and some of the Asian Tigers. Diaspora capital could do for us what it did for the Asians.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Presidential Adviser, and Chairman, National Diaspora Commission who was special guest at the 1st Imo Diaspora Summit expressed satisfaction with the summit saying the state has set the standard.
Her words, “Am glad I have the privilege of obeying and being here. I am one of you, I am glad to be home…Imo you have set the standard. You have set the pace. You are the first to give us the first Special Adviser on Diaspora Affairs and the first to hold a state Diaspora summit. Governor Ihedioha is the first Diaspora friendly governor in Nigeria in Nigeria.
“We have the good, the bad and the ugly, but lets celebrate ourselves…We are hoping that every state will have a focal person on Diaspora like Imo State. Imo State is setting the pace.
“I want to come back on and on to Imo State and join you in Rebuilding Imo. Governor Ihedioha, thank you for what you are doing. I hope every state will emulate you,” Abike Dabiri Arewa. Special Adviser, and Chairman National Diaspora Commission.
By Athan Agbakwuru, Owerri