The Ohanaeze Council of Elders says it is exploring the possibility of establishing a South-East University that will specialise in engineering, medicine, science and technology, and skill acquisition.
This is contained in a communique issued by the council at the end of an inaugural meeting of Ohanaeze Council of Business Leaders, on Saturday in Abuja.
Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chairman of the Council,, who read the communique, said the meeting reflected on the past, examined the present circumstances, and looked into the future of Nigerians of Igbo extraction.
“We have taken a decision today that we are not going to depend on government again, we are going to take our destiny in our own palms by making sure that Igbo land is industrialised.
“We have carried out studies which revealed that in every field, if we work very hard without relying on government, since we know we have no one in power for now, we can develop our place.
“We have taken a decision to focus on education because it is actually the mainstay of our development,” Iwuanyanwu said.
He recalled that by 1960, the region had achieved great heights in education, industry and commerce.
This, he said, was made possible by education, adding that the Eastern region at that time, embarked on a functional education that helped in developing the area.
“And we think we are going to repeat that, because educational standards have gone down, we are determined today that we are going to change the narrative.
“We are setting up a committee on education that will look at education in Igbo land in the past ,as it is today and what we want in the future.
“The committee will come up with suggestions within a month.
“It is likely that when the committee comes up with its report, we are going to build a South-East University which will specialise in medicine, engineering, science and technology and skills acquisition.
“Because skill acquisition is very important today, so our people can acquire entrepreneurial skills,” Iwuanyanwu said.
He noted that Igbos in the past reflected a history of a people “who by the grace of God conquered many obstacles to occupy an exalted position in Nigeria by 1960 when the country got her independence”.
He said unfortunately, subsequent sad events, which culminated into a civil war cost tremendous loses to Igbos where many lives and properties, including opportunities, were lost.
He said at the end of the war, Igbos emerged from the rubbles with almost nothing to climb to a point of relevance in the Nigerian society in spite of their industrious nature.
“We need to count our blessings, name them one by one and give thanks to God for his mercies,” the Ohanaeze Council of Elders chairman said.
According to Iwuanyanwu, while noting that political power in third world countries like Nigeria play a major role in development and self actualisation, said Igbos however, are the highest contributors to Nigeria’s economy.
He added that in spite of the limitations, Igbos were exploring their industrious and resourceful nature to succeed in most states of the federation.
He added that apart from establishing the South-East university, the council would also focus on agriculture, industrial development, which would include cement manufacturing, tiles, textile and ceramics production.
He said special focus would also be given to electricity generation for the region, using coal which was in abundance in the area, as a source of power supply.
He noted that though the projects were capital intensive, it was achievable with the commitment of every Ohanaeze member and other stakeholders.
“We would have enough money to finance these projects with the financial and moral commitment and support of all.
“People who are well disposed can pay more and their contributions will be acknowledged. Members of the Council of Business Leaders will agree on membership registration fee,” he said.
Iwuanyanwu specially thanked governors in the region for their contributions towards advancing the course of the Igbo race (NAN)