The sit-at-home order in the South-Eastern states in Nigeria has seen businesses in the region suffer over N4trillion losses amid other security threats within the last two years.
Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu disclosed this yesterday while speaking at the 2023 All Markets Conference organized by Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association, in Lagos yesterday.
The sit-at-home order was initiated in May 2021 by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), with the tag #FreeNnamdiKanu, aimed at forcing the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu, who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Citing a report carried out by Business Day on the effects of the sit-at-home order by the Business Day, Hon. Kalu stressed that it is high time Igbos rally around to salvage the region’s economy, businesses and restore security.
According to him, the current state of restiveness, kidnappings and killings in the South East region is the biggest impediment to the growth and development of the states within the region, adding that its citizens aren’t willing to invest in the area, let alone Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
His words: “Yorubas and Hausas aren’t our problem; we must realize that we are our own problem in our land. We must realize this and do something about it. This problem of insecurity, robbery and kidnappings has eaten deep into our communities like a cankerworm and it is time for us to rise up to curb this. The first wave of migration of Igbo businesses to other parts of the country was in the late 1980s after the civil war. Sadly, we are currently witnessing a second wave of migration of Igbo businesses and this is due to insecurity and the sit-at-home problem in the Eastern region.”
“My brothers and sisters, this isn’t our heritage. Historically, this isn’t what Igbos are known for. We aren’t violent people and we don’t spill our people’s blood. I am pained by what our communities have turned into. I am pained that we are no longer safe in the land that God has given to us. Our forefathers secured this land for us and some paid with their lives, now it is no longer safe for us to reside. No reason is sufficient to justify the violence in our land within the last few years. We now sojourn in diaspora conducting our traditional affairs including giving our children out in marriage in a foreign land without the spirit of our forefathers. We must look inward to solve this”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines who also chaired the occasion, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, OFR, stressed that political tensions are inevitable in every society; even in the most advanced democracies, but they mustn’t result to violence.
“A key driver of such political tensions are interest group politics wherein diverse range of stakeholders try to advance their interests which can converge or diverge. These battles are usually fought out in elections and subsequently in legislations and government policies. Like any other type of government, Democracy which we are trying to practice has its inherent flaws, more so in our own case in Nigeria.”
“Violence is never the solution to anything. That is why we must, as concerned citizens with constitutional rights, insist on good governance as we strive to build a just and democratic nation. It may not happen overnight but as the English Poet, Alexander Pope reminds us- hope springs eternal.”
“As has been established over several decades, the Igbo, as traders and business leaders, thrive very well in peaceful and accommodating environments. It is only when the environment is welcoming and inviting that we best express ourselves building new businesses and communities through self-help programs and human capacity development. One of such is the famed apprenticeship program which the American-Canadian TED Talks organization described as the greatest Venture Capital scheme ever. We invest in any place that we are welcome,” Okonkwo said.
In his welcome address, the President of Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association, Comrade Chinedu Ukatu lamented that the shippers have been neglected by relevant government agencies.
“There has been nothing like incentives or Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR), neither have we enjoyed anything like concession from Federal Government nor international communities as monetary support upon all our contributions to the economy We operate on our own and we pray that after today’s event that the dynamics will change.”
“In order to contribute to the growth of the nation economy, empowering more Nigerian youths, Ndigboamaka is currently driving into technology and innovations hence our theme for this conference: “Catalysing Partnership with Traders through Innovations, Technology, Analytics and Sustainability”
According to him, the group has realized that any country that is not intentionally adding new innovations, upgrading skills, building human capacity would be totally left behind by developing countries.