By Uche Nworah, Ph.D
The Governors of the Southeast region are holding their meeting in Enugu today, Thursday, 10th August, 2023. Amongst other items on their agenda, the Governors will do well to also discuss how to promote the competitiveness of each component Southeast state.
The Southeast region is endowed with mineral resources, arable land and talented human capital. However, it will not be in the overall interest of the region for each component state to become a ‘be all’ state. The states should focus on their respective economic areas of core competence and competitive advantage. That way, duplicity and wastages in economic efforts will be avoided.
I have heard the new Director-General (DG) of the Southeast Governors Forum (SEGF), Iyom Senator Uche Ekwunife speak about how this will be one of her key goals as the DG of SEGF. I think it will be a good thing if she can successfully champion this for the forum.
For example, Anambra is a known commerce centre. The strengths of the large markets at Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka etc could be easily leveraged on and promoted to transit to become great Southeast trade, commerce and e-commerce hubs. These will lead to attraction of investments in logistics, transport, warehousing and technology.
Enugu by tradition can leverage on its peaceful, tranquil and civil service town reputation and easily become the ‘Washington DC’ of the Southeast. It could also be promoted as the education hub and capital of the region because of the many higher institutions in the state.
Abia state, Aba in particular, has always been known for its local industries and the ingenuity of Aba-based business men and women. It could leverage on this and become the manufacturing hub of the Southeast. The ingenuity by Aba traders will help it to easily achieve this.
Ebonyi state with its ‘Abakaliki rice’ fame, and mineral deposits (limestone) could be promoted as the agricultural hub of the Southeast.
Imo state has its reputation cut out for it and could be promoted as the entertainment hub of the Southeast. It could become the ‘Las Vegas’ of the Southeast because of the many hotels, restaurants, lounges and nite clubs in the state.
As the Governors meet, they should also discuss the issue of state governments in the region patronizing businesses in the Southeast region, promoting such businesses and supporting each other. There should be reciprocity.
The same way that the Governor of Anambra state, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, has championed and promoted the wearing of ‘Akwete clothes’, which are manufactured in Abia state, the Governor of Abia state, Dr Alex Otti, should reciprocate such huge marketing gesture which has sparked the wearing of Akwete clothes not only in Anambra state, but nationwide. Dr. Otti should have kindly considered purchasing Innoson trucks manufactured in Nnewi, Anambra state, when Abia state bought trucks for its security initiative, but it did not, choosing Toyota Hilux brand instead. Such commercial snub will not promote Southeast regional cooperation and economic development.