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Enugu, Gov. Mbah And The Akuruouno Mantra


By Samson Ezea 

It is on record that Enugu, as the capital of the old Eastern region and East Central State, witnessed  booming agricultural, entrepreneurial, and economic growth effectively championed and supported by governments in collaboration with the private sector.


As years passed by, the boom and growth, instead of increasing by leaps and bounds declined due to several factors that included insecurity, poor leadership, inconsistent economic policies and plans, corruption, conspiracies,  communal conflicts, Land Use Act, among others that are antithetical to rapid and stable economic growth and development.


Unfortunately, successive governments paid little attention at tackling frontally and urgently the declined economic investments as this led to investment and capital flights from Enugu and other southeast states to other places, particularly Lagos and Abuja, where majority of the Southeast  investors have made major investments destinations to the detriment and underdevelopment of Enugu and southeast region at large.


Looking and comparing the quantum and quality of investments the Southeasterners have made and still making outside the shores of Southeast region to the deteriorating economic and social situation in the Southeast region, some concerned Igbo entrepreneurs and political leaders came up with the mantra of Akuruouno, meaning let wealth reach home.


In a keynote lecture titled "Akuluouno Model And Social, Cultural And Economic Development Of Igboland", Dr. Uche Nworah, former Managing Director of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), Awka said Akuluouno in the true Igbo spirit is people helping their people to succeed. The philosophy means taking one's wealth home where it is most needed, from the Diaspora and letting the people and larger community benefit from the wealth and resources God has blessed you with."


Apart from Nworah, some other Igbo intelligentsia and entrepreneurs have as well advocated that the success of the Akuruouno model can be easily achieved through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) between companies, individuals, communities and governments.


While the mantra sounds so plausible and nice, the practice has not gained the expected traction and acceptance. This is largely because governments, companies, and individuals have not really moved from theorizing and mouthing the Akuruouno model to practicalising it for the economic development and growth of the Southeast region. The intending investors are not sure of the governments' sincerity and commitment to any partnership agreement and project between them. 


There were cases where successive governments outrightly pulled out of such partnerships abruptly on flimsy excuses and political reasons without considering the economic and larger consequences of their actions on the economy of the state and the people. Investors are often scared of insecurity, which had multiplied with the hijack of the activities of IPOB and nefarious activities of marauding and deadly herdsmen in the Southeast region. Political leaders have not shown enough political will, courage and readiness to actualize the Akuruouno concept through the creation of enabling environment, firm legal frameworks, and conducive atmosphere for investors to invest. 


Lack of these and many factors are responsible for the reluctance of entrepreneurs, especially of Igbo extraction, to invest largely in their home states, including Enugu, which is the capital of the Southeast region by all standards. 


Having studied and encountered the above-mentioned challenges bedevilling the actualization of the Akuruouno model and rapid economic growth in Southeast region and Enugu in particular, Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, a great entrepreneur and investor of global repute, knowing that there is no way his government can achieve the lofty economic idea of taking Enugu State's current GDP of 4.4bn dollars to 30bn dollars without the active collaborations and partnerships with private investors has taken bold steps, formulated and implemented sound economic policies to actualize the true Akuruouno Model in Enugu State since assuming office as Governor. He is tackling the impediments  and hindrances that had discouraged investors from investing in the state before now. 


That was why Governor Mbah, on assumption of office, pronounced  the immediate and total ban on the IPOB induced Monday sit-at-home in the state. Governor Mbah didn't stop at pronouncing the ban. His government, in collaboration with security agencies and residents of the state, took the battle to the non- state actors and enforcers of the sit-at-home order in the state.


Different discreet security measures were deployed to tackle the illegal Monday sit-at-home in the state by Governor Mbah's government and security agencies. That is why in Enugu State today, the Monday sit-at-home is no longer observed by the residents and workers.


Governor Mbah's government has been constantly reaching out, engaging and collaborating with the APC-led Federal Government, irrespective of party differences, to ensure that Enugu State gets her fair share of Federal Government's largesse, policies and programmes in the areas of infrastructure, security, empowerments and others that will hasten economic growth and make the state investors' most preferred state in the country.


Not too long ago, Governor Mbah was in Aso Rock Villa, where he met President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and appealed for the Federal Government's construction of cargo terminal and urgent completion of the international wing of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, emphasising that Enugu is conducive to investing and therefore, open for business. 


Also recently in Enugu, 

captains of industry and prospective investors of South-East extraction expressed their readiness to key into the investment and economic growth plans of the Dr. Peter Mbah-led Enugu State government. They expressed satisfaction with the administration’s effort at rallying local domestic business leaders and de-risking the state’s business environment, stressing that investments go to where the risks are less and return on investment (ROI) is high.


This was even as Governor Mbah harped on synergic regional cooperation for economic development, saying a people could only get respect outside their land proportionate to the socio-economic growth in their own homeland.The business moguls gave the indication in Enugu during the inauguration of the Enugu Investors Network, an initiative of the Enugu State Government for mobilising domestic investment.


One of the many business leaders at the event, which also served as the inaugural roundtable of the Network, Dr. Sam Onyishi, CEO of Peace Group of Companies, commended the governor for improved security. He urged Ndigbo to think home, emphasising that the long-term security of Igbo investment could only be guaranteed in their homeland.

“The government is thinking what I was thinking. The first thing that this government did was to work on the Monday sit-at-home. Two years ago, we did not go to work for 62 days. Last year, we did not go to work for 67 days. This year was going to be worse than that.

“Why I said that the government is thinking what I was thinking is because on the 23rd of November 2013, I told my family that I was not going to make any investment that is worth more than N1 billion outside the South-East.I am happy with this government. This is the first time that anybody is inviting me in Enugu State to come and have this kind of heart-to-heart discussion with the governor seated, too. The other ones were a kind of ‘come, talk and go home.’ But this one is action. The governor says, ‘This is what we have and what we are going to do together’. It is straight to the point.

  “We must be plain and frank with ourselves. So, I do not want to talk about what Nigeria is and what Nigeria is not. As far as I am concerned, I am made for where I come from. Charity begins at home.”

Corroborating, the Chairman of Coscharis Group, Sir Cosmas Maduka, said the Group had since turned homeward, investing heavily in agriculture, among others, in Anambra State and would be eager to explore any of the outlined investment opportunities in Enugu State.


In his remarks, Governor Mbah, who recalled how Dr. Michael Okpara turned the Eastern Region economy around by assembling eminent personalities such as constitute the Enugu Investors Network, said the narratives of insecurity, economic underdevelopment, laxity, and lack of ambitious development initiatives could be changed as they did not represent people of the South-East. So, we now have a government in Enugu State that has expressed a humongous vision and ambition as to where we want to see Enugu in the next four to eight years under our watch. We proposed to grow this economy from $4.4 billion to $30 billion to become one of the top players in Nigeria by GDP in the next four to eight years.

“This growth we envision in Enugu is not one that is going to come through the public sector. We expect that the growth would come from investments from the private sector. So, my intention here today is to elicit your engagement, your questions, and indeed your involvement on how we can grow Enugu’s economy and, by extension, the South-East economy”, Mbah stated.


 Apart from this, it would be recalled that Governor Mbah had in August this year in Enugu flagged off the inaugural Enugu State Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholders Roundtable where he unveiled a 2.1billiion dollar project pipelines that spanned several industries such as transportation, energy, power and agro industrialization. The Roundtable themed " Leveraging Public Private Partnerships is a precursor to the launch of a maiden multi-stakeholder, fully transactional Diaspora and Investment Forum scheduled for the second quarter of 2024.


Also in October this year, Governor Mbah, who delivered a keynote address at the 2023 Nigerians Indonesian Business And Trade Forum, urged the Indonesian businesses and investors to take advantage of the numerous opportunities, improved business environment and returns on investments in Enugu State to invest massively in the state.


Governor Mbah's recent flagg off of the construction of the New Enugu Smart City,  rehabilitation and reconstruction of 71 roads, commissioning of improved water supply and planned commencement of construction of Enugu Transport Terminal which had opened new corridors of economy in the state had also provided ample investment opportunities for investors to invest in the state.


In his true spirit and doggedness of ensuring that Enugu State attains his government's planned and desired lofty heights in all sectors of the economy, Governor Mbah's unrelenting efforts and unwavering commitment in marketing and putting Enugu State's investment potentials and opportunities on the global economic map is highly commendable and developmental. It is quite gladdening that Governor Mbah has taken it upon himself to be the chief marketer and promoter of Enugu State investment opportunities. This strategy and approach will definitely clear investors' doubt and give them absolute confidence and assurance to invest massively in the state, thereby making the expected GDP growth of 30bn dollars a possibility in the couple of years ahead.

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