By Itohan Abara-Laserian
iThink Nigeria, a socio-economic platform and political think tank, on Sunday urged indigenes of Imo in the Diaspora to return home and invest in the state.
The Co-founder of the organisation, Mr Ike Ogbuebile, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was currently in talks with Imo indigenes in the U.K. and the U.S.
According to Ogbuebile, the entrance of a new administration under Gov. Emeka Ihedioha, will open the state for local and international investments to lift the state to an economically stable and smart state.
He said: “iThink Nigeria and the people of Imo believe strongly that the Gov. Emeka Ihedioha and his team will propel Imo forward.
“He is someone who has prepared himself for governance over the years, an inclusive servant leader, who understands how government runs and has surrounded himself with technocrats and politicians who understand the purpose and importance of serving the people.
“Over the last years, Imo has been in a state of ridicule but with this new governor, we will push Imo forward and the people of the state are excited and have high expectations that the Ihedioha-Irona’s administration will deliver on their promises, but we all have a role to play.
“The focus of the Governor is to rebuild, reposition and place Imo State as the preferred business destination for both local and foreign investors, creating job opportunities and wealth creation for the people of Imo.
“I believe that the administration has robust plans to attract all the right people into the state. There is a plan for 2025 to place Imo as one of the top states in Nigeria and by 2030 it will be one of the top states in Africa.’’
Ogbuebile also continued that to upgrade the state from the pedestal of one of the less easy states to do business with, to a more environmentally-friendly state, people in the Diaspora must be attracted to do so.
“Imo has a lot of wealthy people in Nigeria and in the Diaspora; we have the smartest innovators both locally and internationally.
“The diaspora has a role to play in rebuilding Imo and attracting foreign investment and local investors back into Imo and the new government is open for business.
“I lived in America for over 17 years and in the U.K. before then. Returning back home, I clearly understood the need to bridge the gap between what’s going on back home and how the diasporas can be engaged to participate in rebuilding Imo.
“I understand this and I have been very much involved over the years in the Diaspora initiatives attracting people to come and invest in parts of Nigeria, especially in 2014 when I was the Project Director for NIGERIA OUR HERITAGE held in Washington DC during President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
“The opportunities are there, the current government is going to create a good environment to get more investors and stakeholders involved, the plan is that the ease of doing business in Imo will become much more viable and appealing, not only for Imo indigenes, but for Nigerians and the world in general.
“Can you imagine, Imo state is ranked 34 out of 36 states when it comes to the ease of doing business in Nigeria but in the next 100 days, the indigenes are optimistic that the governor is going to work hard to upgrade and reposition the state,” he said.
He said that the time of political play was over and it was time for government to move the state forward, while noting that he was ready to render support as a stakeholder and indigene to move the state forward and working with the Diaspora.
Ogbuebile, who is also the Chief Executive of Encase Consulting, told NAN that it had become imperative to remove the bottlenecks, hitherto, experienced in the state.
According to him, there was evidently deliberate moves to improve infrastructure by Ihedioha, to claim back the status of the state as the Heartland of the South-Eastern part of the country.
“The vibes coming from the current governor emits progress considering his inaugural speech. You will see that he has plans to attract Imo indigenes in the Diaspora to come home.
“We strongly believe the government will be putting the right policies in place, coupled with the right executives, the right human capital to get the job done.
“We hope to see improved security, hospitality, tourism and entertainment that will attract people to start coming back to Imo.
“As the state plans towards making Imo a smart city: where there is improved and accessible ICT for our young people to engage and compete with their peers globally,” Ogbuebile said.
He noted that “Imo belongs to all of us, not just some of us. So, it is important that the state is in the right track, getting technocrats and politicians internally and from diaspora with the knowledge of the western world to help rebuild the state.
Currently, Ogbuebile said he was talking with a lot of people to come to Imo and invest once again.
“I am on a short visit to the U.K., I have started to engage Imolites and folks from other parts to start thinking back home, my message is simple ‘think Imo, Invest in Imo.’’
According to him, Africa is the new frontier, Nigeria is the trigger and Imo is the golden bullet.
NAN reports that iThink Nigeria is structured to get more Nigerians locally and from the Diaspora to get involved in the socio-political structure in the country.