Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State has assured indigenes in the diaspora that the state was ready and open for business to thrive in the state.
The governor gave the assurance during the Imo Diaspora Summit 2020 held at the Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri on Friday.
Ihedioha described Imo as `Nigeria’s intellectual capital’, adding that his government was ready for healthy partnerships with Nigerians in the diaspora so as to harness the state’s intellectual capacity.
He enjoined delegates at the summit to put years of economic and infrastructural devastation by the past administration behind and make Imo the country’s commercial and industrial hub. “In the past few years, our economy was devastated and we were grossly de-marketed.
I urge you to put the past behind and join hands with me to harness our intellectual capacity in rebuilding our dear state. “Imo is the investor’s heaven and the land of opportunities and with our collective efforts, the Imo of our dreams will be here sooner than we may expect.
“The diaspora is our strength and we are ready for healthy partnerships. We are ready to make Imo an industrial and commercial hub and with the only functional airport in the southeast, I make bold to say that we are ready for business,” the governor said.
Earlier in a speech, the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and guest speaker for the event, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa commended Nigerian ruler for signing the diaspora commission bill into law.
She said that the Federal Government was working on the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Trust Fund, an arrangement that would make it possible for Nigerians in the diaspora to invest in Nigeria.
“Imo is one of the 14 states with focal persons on diaspora. Thanks to Nigerian ruler, Nigeria has a diaspora commission, so I urge you to be an ambassador of Nigeria wherever you are.
“We will continue to implore parliament to work on laws that will allow diasporans vote during elections. The Nigeria Diaspora Investment Trust Fund will facilitate ease of investments in Nigeria for those in the diaspora.
“Governor Emeka Ihedioha has a Special Assistant on diaspora so all necessary mechanism has been put in place. There are no more excuses, join hands and rebuild Imo,” she said.
In an address, the keynote speaker, Prof. Ernest Uwazie urged meaningful partnership between government and diasporans while condemning attacks targeted at Igbos in position of authority when they visited them abroad.
He further encouraged determination for service and desire for success while urging delegates to respond positively to the call to rebuild Imo and Nigeria at large.
Also speaking, Chairperson of the summit, Amb. Kema Chikwe and former ambassador of Nigeria to Ireland, urged Imo citizens in the diaspora to attract funding partners.
According to the former Aviation Minister, the best marketing can only be done by Imo citizens whom she noted are direct beneficiaries of the state’s marketability.
Also, Special Assistant to the Governor Ihedioha on Information and Advocacy, Miss Adaora Onyechere, said that a lot could be achieved through diaspora collaboration and a positive mindset.
“If we don’t try, we will never achieve. I urge all Imo citizens in the diaspora to keep faith with the governor despite the unfortunate past because the rebuilding of Imo is a serious venture,” she said.
Our correspondence reports that the summit was attended by a former Imo governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim alongside former deputy governors Ebere Udeagu and Douglas Acholonu.
Others are former Imo speaker, Ike Ibe and chairman, Imo Community in Europe, Chief Anthony Ibe.