By O’star Eze
Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), a foremost Pan Igbo development group, has decried low ranking of the Southeast states by the World Bank in the ease of doing business in Nigeria; and called for urgent drastic action to improve investment and business climate in the region.
The group frowned at the statistics, which ranked Anambra 32 and 34 in the ease of registering companies and enforcing contracts, respectively, out of 36 states and FCT, while Abia was placed 34 and 32, respectively. Similarly, Imo ranks 33 and 37; Ebonyi ranks 24 and 36; and Enugu ranks 9 and 31.
The call was made during ADF’s 5th anniversary and annual general meeting held at the Honeywell Hotel, Umuchu, in Aguata local government area of Anambra state, last weekend.
The group identified lack of enabling environment and dearth of infrastructure as major reasons Igbo investors are reluctant to repatriate and domicile their business ventures in the south east region.
While applauding the bold steps taken by the chairman of the Orient Group of Companies, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, in establishing his multi-billion investments in his hometown, Umuchu, the group urged other Igbo investors and business men to copy Ezeemo’s think home philosophy.
Mr. Frank Nneji, a member of the group’s management board of Trust Fund, also identified insecurity and multiple taxation as some other contributory factors that discourage Igbo men and women from investing at home.
Nneji, however, urged Southeast governors to make frantic efforts to make the business environment more friendly for investors, while encouraging Igbo investors not to hesitate to site some of their businesses in the southeast to ensure their security.
He stressed that such businesses are bound to thrive given that the “southeast region boasts of the second largest consumer cluster in Nigeria after Lagos.”
He congratulated Mr. Ezeemo for bringing down his investments to his hometown, encouraging others to emulate him.
The ABC Transport MD also cited himself as example of business people, who repatriate their businesses home. He said that he started his transport company in Owerri in 1983 and has since established 39 branches across the country and three branches in the West coast.
“Our tour of the various business establishments of our brother, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, is an eye opener to us. We saw a vast integrated poultry, a polythene production plant, a recycling plant, and a water bottling plant as well as a radio house all cited in Umuchu by Chief Ezeemo.
He warned Igbo entrepreneurs not to repeat the mistakes of their forebears, who cited most of their businesses in other regions of the country and lost them during the civil war.
On his part, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, who hosted the group, charged Anambra state government and other southeast governors to provide the basic infrastructure and make the acquisition of certificate of occupancy for lands easy for investors.
He said, “The government is only interested in Internally Generated Revenue without considering, who is generating the revenue and how such person can be encouraged to be more productive. This is absolutely wrong.
“Government at all levels need to start giving C of O to land owners so that they will use it to collect loan from banks. Regrettably, before you can get a C of O, you are asked to pay a lot of money. Also, in Anambra state, the electricity supply is still very poor. Even when there is power supply, it does not carry some appliances for production like the web printer used in my printing press in Awka. We spend a lot of money running our 400 kva generator.”
Earlier in his keynote address, the ADF president, Professor Uzodimma Nwala, noted that the group has since its inception distinguished itself as “a major intellectual guardian on Igbo affairs” by bringing “unprecedented focus on the peculiar challenges of the Igbo nation.
“ADF has played a pivotal role in bringing clarity to the Igbo struggle as a nation submerged in an artificial multinational republic that stunts her developmental potential,” he said.
He encouraged southeast state governors and state houses of assembly to pass the anti-open grazing bill they had submitted to them over a year ago and the communities to strengthen their town union governments and local vigilantes.
Others, who spoke at the event were Professor John Anene Chukwuemeka, Chief Simon Okeke, former chairman of Police Service Commission; Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia and Igwe Godson Ezechukwu of Umuchu.