We must commit to begin today to be the model that our children need to succeed. This change must begin in the cradle. At home, we need to instill in our children the right culture and values. Only then can we raise a generation of heroes to carry on our pride as Ndi Igbo.
Synergy and regional collaboration
In my view, one of the biggest drawbacks to the advancement of the South-East region is the lack of synergy among States. A maxim drawn from ancient wisdom says, “United we stand, divided we fall”.
Our region has the advantage of being monolith. This should be considered strength for the South-East. We have been unable to tap into the opportunities available to a people who are not divided by tribe, language, culture, traditions, or even religion.
It is time our leaders ignore the imaginary divisions presented to us in the form of states, senatorial zones, and federal constituencies. Those are just administrative units. We need to begin to see ourselves as one united entity and our leaders must urgently create the synergy needed to drive development for our region. We need our leaders to rise to a higher calling and eschew the syndrome of greed, ego, and unhealthy competition that has, so far, prevented this co-operation and collaboration from happening.
One of the challenges of the Igbo nation at the federal level is that we are the only geo-political region with five states, versus six for every other region. At the Senate, the House of Representatives, federal cabinet, and the distribution of resources, we are disadvantaged in every way. Umunnem, we can correct this if we speak with one voice. The call for Igbo Presidency is gathering steam, what is our collective stand? Can we speak with one voice? We must kill the spirit of Onye kwulu oto akwatuo m ya, so mu bu eze ga akwu oto n’uwaa (self aggrandizement).
We must come together as a region to chart a common cause and purpose for the benefit of the Igbo race. We must synergize and confront our common problems, be it political, developmental, economical, socially and otherwise as one. We can fix our common infrastructure with stronger collaborations because we are the ones using them. Other nations within Nigeria are floating regional security outfits to protect their people. Where are we on this sensitive and important issue? We must come together as one Igbo nation, first, before anything else.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
Ladies and gentlemen, these words were composed in 1776 by the founding father of the United States of America. I believe these words are timeless because they capture the fundamentals of human existence – equality of all humans; the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness.
Just like all humans, Igbo are created free. We have the same rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other tribe with Nigeria. We must not be apologetic about our aspirations and pursuit of social freedom, justice, equity, and happiness within Nigeria. I am, however, concerned that these lofty ideals of a liberated society will elude us if we fail to put our house in order, get our act right, say and do the right things, and inspire our people to greatness. We must work together to reclaim our lost position of pride and restore our lost glory.
John Maxwell, said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I believe that in order to actualize our big dreams, we must close the leadership gap with urgency. We need the right leadership, a purposeful leadership, a revolutionary leadership, to be able to compete in a fast-evolving world.
In driving this positive transformation, there is no denying the role that young people, a new generation of leaders, have to play. With every sense of modesty, I consider myself a new generation leader who is well positioned to drive this agenda for the prosperity of our people. I call on the youth of our nation to rise up and take their power, walk in their liberty, reach for the stars, and by so doing, create a new future for us, and the generations to come.
Ozigbo, a Nigerian business leader, philanthropist and the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, delivered this text as keynote speech at the 2020 Summit of the Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Wing on Saturday, December 12, 2020 at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu.