Abia indigenes in diaspora has demanded an all-inclusive programme of development from the Abia State government to enable them participate in ongoing efforts to return the state to the path of sustainable development. This was the consensus of participants at the 6th Abia Sustainability RoundTable Series (ASRTS) held virtually on November 19, 2022.
Speaking on the roundtable theme – ‘Reworking the Abia State Economy: Aligning Partnership with Abians in Diaspora for Progressive Implementation of The Abia State 30 Years Development Plan (ABSLTDP)’; Prof. Elewechi Ngozi Okike, Founder/chair, Book Aids for Africa, UK, stated that ‘Abia State indigenes in diaspora should be seen as ambassadors of the state and should be encourage and followed up to contribute to development of the state. She calls on Abia Government to create opportunity of integrating Abia indigenes on the state development’. Also speaking on the theme, Barr. Nwabueze Nwokolo, a UK based Commonwealth Lawyer, observed that ‘every person who lives and work outside Nigeria knowns what they do to sustain those at home’. She therefore, called on Abia government to formalize the contributions of Abia state indigenes in diaspora to state building.
Chief Sonny Iroche, the DG of Abia League of Professionals Initiative, while outlining imminent drawback on progressive implementation of ABSLTDP, observed that ‘The key challenge of Abia state is leadership and corrupt people, corrupt government official who do everything to thwart good development plans. The question then is how do we get out of this mess without tackling the issue of corruption. If this is not taken care of that fine master plan would go to naught. In a nutshell we must uproot the microcosm called corruption in Abia state for the state to development’.
In his remark, Dr Emeka Okengwu, Advisory Chairman, ASRTS, called on Abians not to criticize implementation of ABSLTDP, which has been the focus of previous six sessions of ASRTS. He encourages Abians to liaise with the government on progressive implementation of the plan saying that if Abians take ownership of the plan, even if it is not totally applied, it can bring some sort of succor to Abia State Development challenges.
Mazi Godson Azu, Chairman of Abia State Indigenes in Diaspora, United Kingdom also called on Abia indigenes in Diaspora to work together to bring the name of Abia to reference among community of states and nations, saying Abia State cannot continue to house African hub of creativity and entrepreneurship and lay perpetually in shamble, we cannot continue to produce and not make efforts to brand and sell properly.
While responding to concerns raise at the meeting, Dr Nnenna Chikezie, the Executive Secretary Abia State Planning Commission, stated that ABSLTDP is not any political party document, it is the document of the Abia people that took over 18 months to produce. There was a thorough process, that included call for papers in the national dallies. She appreciated the Organisers of Abia Sustainability RoundTable Series for continued use of the platform to drive awareness and relevance for the Plan. She said the only way to ensure progressive implementation of ABSLTDP is to have voices speaking from diaspora, from across states and national, pushing on successive government of Abia State, that is the only way this document would be used.
Further appreciating participants of the 6th Abia Sustainability RoundTable Series, the Convener, Eric Adile Iroajugh stated that far from being mere beneficiaries of ABSLTDP, Abia People should take ownership and be actively engaged in the frameworks and processes that support progressive implementation of the Plan. According to him, development can only be sustainable if beneficiaries take active interests and drive the process. Highlighting objectives of ASRTS, Eric Adile stated that The Abia Sustainability RoundTable Series is a village-square platform for shared purposes of Progressive Citizens’ Engagements and Dialogue toward improving the Culture of Leadership and Development in Abia State. ASRTS is endorsed and supported by concerned Abia Citizens, Professional Groups and Development Partners, who are committed to deepening Progressive Leadership Culture and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the State. According to him, ASRTS currently, provide platforms for citizens focused engagement and dialogue on adoption and progressive implementation of the Abia State 30 years Long-Term Development Plan, 2020-2050 through successive Abia State Governments within the 30 years span of the plan