Governors and other leaders of states in the defunct Eastern Nigerian Region should work more closely for the rapid development of their place, according to a former Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji.
“No state can develop as rapidly as it would have wished if it does not plan development policies and implement them in concert with neighboring states in the region, especially since they share a lot of cultural and historical affinities”, Nnaji, a preeminent industrial engineering professor seeking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial ticket in Enugu State, told the leadership of his campaign team in Enugu this morning.
According to a statement signed by the Director General of the Professor Bart Team Campaign, Barrister Ricky Agu, the former minister stated that the Eastern Nigerian Region, which now comprises Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu and Rivers states, need common services like railway which will drive mass transit.
“It is not buses which drive mass transit in the modern world, contrary to the popular notion in Nigeria”, the former minister told the campaign team.
“It is time to start thinking and dreaming big rather than continuing with the traditional way of doing small things and expecting big results”.
He argued that Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia did not become development miracles and attaining living standards of the Western world within two or three decades by continuing with the traditional systems which were not efficient or effective or competitive.
In this era of globalization, Professor Nnaji explained, “it will not be right for the Eastern states or even other parts of the Nigerian Federation to continue to attempt to develop like silos, each in its own cocoon or small world”.
The industrial engineering expert said that leaders of different sections of the country should hold meaningful conferences on how to industrialize their areas, so that hundreds of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who graduate yearly from different tertiary institutions in the country and abroad in disciplines like computer engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial physics, industrial microbiology, computer science, industrial engineering and others could find where to practise their professions in the country.
He declared: “Eastern Nigeria was able to have one of the world’s quickest growing economies in the 1960s because there were a lot of industries in places like Nkalagu, Port Harcourt, Aba, Emene, Calabar and Obudu which hired many of our people and the pay was competitive even by international standards”.
Regretting the collapse of these enterprises, Professor Nnaji, chairman of the Geometric Power Group which is about to commission the $600m Aba Power Project in Abia State, said that “Nigerians, both young and old, are compelled to move in large numbers to Lagos and Abuja daily in search of jobs and business opportunities which are shrinking by the day while the population increases”.
Some Nigerians, he continued, seek the greener pasture by going abroad through all manner of means.
“Many reach Libya via Chad in the hopes of boarding rickety and dangerous canoes to southern Italy, and frequently end up tragically.
“No state government can stem phenomena like this, hence the need for different sections of Nigeria to work together on key development issues.
“The geopolitical zones of the country should be centres of industrial development, and not zones for expressing ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments against one another”.
Professor Nnaji dismissed suggestions that joint state development projects and programmes would lead to fresh fears of domination by some states.
“Each state”, he told his campaign committee, “will, of course, retain its degree of autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution”.