FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo has attributed Igbo youths restiveness to poverty and unemployment, just as he advised Ndigbo to close ranks and work in unity so as to speak with one voice in the nation’s polity.
Obasanjo, who said this on Thursday, at the opening of the South East Economic and Security Summit, in Enugu, noted that Ndigbo have what it takes but individualism had been militating against them, adding that the people of the South East are known for their entrepreneurial ability, communal interest and adventurism.
“If the Igbo work together with the ability they possess, they will foster economic development of the country. I admire the uniqueness that is built around the South East region. I want you people to, with it, take lead of the country”, he said.
On the youth restiveness, he called on the government to create employment for youths to stop all kinds of criminalities in the country, adding that when a section of the country is in crisis, then, the whole country is also in crisis.
“The youth are agitating because they have education without employment. And they have today but not sure of tomorrow. A youth who is educated and is not employed, is not sure of tomorrow. So, he will agitate for his right”.
Obasanjo further noted that the economy and security are two sides of a coin and none could be realised without the other. Whatever we can do for ourselves, let us do it for . If I could go to Maiduguri when Boko Haram was raging and I had to try to reach out to them in the interest of the country, I do not think I have to be commended for being part of the initiative for the South East summit.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on the occasion, reiterated that unless there is restructuring of the country and establishment of state police, the dream for redressing the political imbalance and reduction in criminalities in the country might be a mirage.
Senator Ekweremadu used the occasion to call on the release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, adding that the court had ordered for his freedom.
Earlier, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, had said that the summit is intended to offer the government and all relevant stakeholders in the South East region, the opportunity to identify and critically examine the peculiar security and economic challenges of the zone with a view to finding lasting solutions to them.
“The events in both economic and security sectors complement rather than impede or oppose one another in the development trajectory of the region and the nation at large.
Both the former secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Ayaoku and Professor Barth Nnaji, agreed that for Nigeria to overcome some of its major challenges, the peculiar and most teething problems of the various component parts of the country should be identified and addressed.
Professor Nnaji, a former Minister of Power and the chairman of the South East Economic and Security Summit group, said that the summit is intended to produce a generic model of regional development in which the people o f the region are also very active players .
“Such a plan should address the infrastructural needs of the southeast and thus facilitate and enhance economic integration of every sub-region in Nigeria. Most of the Federal roads in southeast are in total state of disrepair. A few that are fairly useable today were fixed by the state government out of their meager resources which the Federal Government is yet to pay back”.
Among other issues listed was Enugu International airport, Owerri cargo airport, standard gauge railway line in southeast, industrial development of southeast, industrial free zone.
Some of the top dignitaries who attended the summit were ex-Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Governors of Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi, Deputy Governors of Anambra and Imo States.
President Mmuhammedu Buhari was not in attendance despite the media hype that he was scheduled to visit Enugu for the summit.