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Time was when the rhetoric was marginalisation. That language may not have died out, but there seems to be a more realistic line of thinking among the Igbo. It is the argument that Ndigbo owe their progress to themselves, not outsiders, and that if they do not develop their region, nobody else will.
A little over a week ago, elder statesman and former vice president Alex Ekwueme made that point in Anambra State, urging Ndigbo to unite and speak with one voice. Dr Ekwueme went down memory lane, recalling when everyone was their brother’s keeper. Others such as the state governor Willie Obiano spoke in the same vein.
Now a similar call has rung out from Enugu, the region’s political capital. A think-home campaign is building up and a former governor of Anambra State Chukwuemeka Ezeife is driving it. Dr Ezeife, chair of South East Leadership and Development Initiative (SELDI), a non-governmental organisation, has sent out an appeal to every Igbo citizen living outside the region to invest in the homeland. Dr Ezeife said Ndigbo must now plough their resources into evolving the Southeast they want to see, one that is built by them. SELDI, he said, is committed to transforming the fortunes of the region.
It is not a solo effort. On November 30, SELDI will host its first edition of South East Leadership and Development Summit. The event, planned to hold at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu, will feature many speakers who will proffer solutions to the Igbo question.
The Chairman of SELDI, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife former Governor of Anambra State at a media briefing said it was time for the people of the Southeast to think home and build home. He added that it has become imperative for the people to reflect more deeply about their future and strategic essence in the larger Nigeria Community.
Ezeife decried the deplorable infrastructural state of the region.
He added that there are huge gaps in infrastructure development, economic growth, political and social transformation in the region compared to other regions. These he attributed to zero federal attention in the region and above all the abject docility of the people in managing their own affairs saying that charity of the people does not begin at home but abroad.
According to him under development, poverty, unemployment, lack of federal attention can all be ameliorated with focused, strategic leadership.
“Regrettably these challenges have continued to engender forced migration of the youth and labour force to invest their energies and resources elsewhere to the detriment of their home land.”
Speaking also at the media briefing, the lead promoter of SELDI, Ikenna Modebelu noted that the implications of this neglect include social unrest, economic decay, political imbalances and general impoverishment of the region with attendant youth restiveness and agitation, insecurity, moral decadence and the like.

“These anti-social vices if not promptly addressed, will be catastrophic for the region,” he warned.
Modebelu emphasised that the South East Leadership and development Summit 2016 is one of the strategies designed by SELDI to bring awareness and attention to these problems that have continued to hold down the progress of the region as it aims to raise consciousness and generate enthusiasm on the need to integrate the economies of the South East and explore opportunities and potentials that will aid in shoring up the resources and capacity development of the region.
He posited that a sustained and integrated effort by the five South East States would yield a better result in positioning the region for economic growth, leadership and prosperity.
The summit is expected to drive the Southeast economic goals which include; integration of the Southeast economies, ensure good effective leadership, promote development and industrialisation, support the think home, build home  philosophy, promote enabling environment for investment, empowerment and institutional mentorship programmes for the youth, and rebranding South East. Substantial investment across the transport sector of railways, waterways, airways and land is needed to drive the efforts.
The summit will present various stakeholders, the platform to contribute to building a stronger economy for the region, create attraction and positive perception of the Igbo Nation and her economy, open up opportunities for Igbo diaspora to lend their voices and present an integrated approach to solving the problems of the region with the states benefiting directly from such commonness of purpose.
The deputy senate president, Senator Ike Eweremmadu is expected to chair the summit while other notable speakers and stakeholders invited include Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Prof. Elochukwu Amaucheazi, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Mr. Oscar Onyema, Kalu Idika Kalu, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Sir. Victor Umeh, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, Senator Hope Uzodinma, Rear Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), Ndubusiji Kanu, Professor Pita Ejiofor, Oby Eziekwesili, Prof. Philip Emeagwali, Mr. Peter Obi, Prof. Pat Utomi, Chimamanda Adichie, Ndidi Nwaneli and a host of other achievers from the region.
Other groups expected at the Summit include the Southeast professionals, Industrialists, corporate organisations, chambers of commerce, Southeast groups and associations, local government chairmen of the Southeast, Southeast senators, market leaders and associations, trade unions, transport unions, youth leaders, economic and investment agencies, international organisations and embassies, among others.

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