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By Law Mefor

With a youth summit, the Southeast Governors’ Forum (SEGOF), led by Senator Uche Ekwunife, is realigning itself. Aware that a country that ignores its youth is not prepared for a beautiful future, the body is fundamentally refocusing on the youths of the zone, setting its sights on leadership, development, and value reorientation.

Since the present-day players will eventually succumb to the corrosion of time, the future certainly belongs to the younger generation. As a result, SEGOF’s desire to equip Southeast youth for the monumental challenge that lies ahead is noble, considerate, and apt. The three thematic areas and the variety of resource people who are experts and mentors in their own right make this important SEGOF-organised youth meet of the Zone Enugu on July 5th very strategic.

Southeast youth are to be repositioned for a transformational future by aligning them with SEGOF’s vision of a prosperous Southeast. Whatever one’s interpretation, a transformative future will inevitably be based on development, leadership, and a reorientation of values so that mindsets and attitudes align properly with the irreducible demands of growth and development.

Getting ready for the August AKWAA-AKWURU/OKAIBE Mathematics, Igbo Language Competition, 179 Anambra communities are repositioning their children for the Mayor’s Cup. Ask your PG!

It is important to remember that leadership is the determinant of everything in human endeavours. Therefore, the best place to start is without a doubt encouraging Southeast youth to take leadership seriously. Whether leaders are created or born has long been a topic of discussion. However, research evidence shows that both nature and nurture influence men’s affairs, including leadership. People, especially the younger ones, can develop their leadership skills. It follows that even youth without latent leadership traits can be reshaped to become leaders.

Development, on the other hand, is an outcome of a combination of factors of production, and human capital is at the top of the range. Since man is the driver of development, quality human capital is non-negotiable for development to occur. Therefore, SEGOF is spot on to bring development into the mix and make it a cardinal pursuit.

The Southeast has the potential to emerge as the Silicon Valley of Nigeria, or African Dubai, Taiwan, as Governor Chukwuma Soludo hypothesised. What is needed is regional integration and policy coordination, which SEGOF is poised to pull off.

Regarding value reorientation, one could see that SEGOF is concerned about young people’s tendency towards get-rich syndrome. The Southeast’s social life has been infiltrated by very unusual values, which are currently preventing many of the region’s youths from sincerely pursuing happiness and prosperity. These days, ritual killings for financial gain (which they call Oke Ite), Yahoo crime, and cultism are becoming the norm and, regrettably, also becoming more and more popular among young people.

SEGOF correctly recognises the clear and present danger that many of the zone’s youths face due to their lack of direction, their numerous mistakes, and the catastrophic consequences that follow. Due to the unexplained money that has resulted from these crimes, more young people are being drawn to join criminal gangs. Therefore, SEGOF believes that if the incorrect values—such as wealth without labour and morality—that are currently becoming fads are not vigorously confronted, the repositioning of Southeast youth will not be fully achieved.

SEGOF wants to bring back the eroded old values that gave Ndigbo their essence and respect, both nationally and internationally. The Igbo people are extremely diligent, patient, and resilient, which has helped them achieve success all over the world. For instance, a large number of the greatest physicians, scientists, and core professionals in the US, UK, Canada, and the rest of the West are Igbo-Nigerians who achieved success by overcoming adversity and working hard, relying on their God-given intelligence as the enabler.

Igbo culture upholds that riches without labour and morality are a recipe for disaster. ‘Igba Boi’, for instance, which showcases the Igbo apprenticeship, hard work, and resilience, is an Igbo invention that has been peer-reviewed globally as a business incubation and startup engine. This business and economic empowerment model has been relied upon by Ndigbo to break generational poverty transfers and be used to plant wealth in families where multidimensional poverty wouldn’t allow.

Ndigbo have done remarkably well at home and abroad, despite the horrific setbacks of the civil war. This is attested to by the Igbo catalog of firsts both inside and outside of Nigeria. For example, an Igbo man currently serves as the first black vice-chancellor of any UK university. Igbo people’s hard work and integrity are essential qualities that are now disappearing with the new mad values of money without labour that are plaguing today’s youth.

SEGOF is working to establish a new environment to give Igbo youngsters new opportunities to learn through fresh narratives, values, skills, and positive social attitudes. Reimagining Igbo political culture and altering the narratives are also vitally necessary because macroeconomics is controlled by political leaders and life itself is politics. As part of their leadership training, they will learn how to lead starting today.

It is said that knowledge is power. The Igbo youth need to acquire certain critical 21st-century skills to be ready for a globalised environment. In the emerging future, where artificial intelligence (AI) is already starting to order our lives, many of the disciplines that were profitable and strategically important not too long ago are currently losing out or changing form. Therefore, it is necessary to reframe the way the average Igbo youth thinks to give them the ability to recognise the direction that the world is heading and to respond appropriately.

The Igbo youth need upskilling, reskilling, and relevant skills. If not, most will get lost in the shuffles and end up living on the periphery with unsatisfactory income and little job satisfaction. This is preventable, and SEGOF shares this belief and is poised to do something about it.

Indeed, reorienting ethics and values for Southeast youth is urgently needed, not only for the previously listed reasons but also for other pressing issues like Monday sit-at-home, which cost the region billions of naira and frequently result in the destruction of properties and human casualties. A young girl who wed sometime in late June was slain just last week as the sit-at-home order was being enforced.

The Monday sit-at-home order has a wide range of political, social, and economic implications, all of which will undoubtedly obstruct any development strategy for the Southeast.

It is improper to force people to sit at home in the Southeast to protest the actions of the federal government that is based in Abuja. It is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. Even Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whom the enforcers cite as the reason for the sit-at-home and its enforcement, has since condemned it and called for its cessation.

One also concurs with SEGOF that to improve the Igbo homeland’s security, town unions, and communities need to be actively involved. There cannot be any significant development in the Southeast without security and stability. Igbo investors are moving out of the zone in droves. Because of the growing insecurity in the area since the emergence of unknown gunmen (UGM), many wealthy Igbo people in the Onitsha main market and elsewhere are moving to Asaba, Ogun, Lagos, Abuja, and even outside the country.

According to statistics, the unfavourable economic climate is the reason why over 70% of Igbo people and their investments are located outside of Igbo land. Even in prosperous times, returns on investments (ROI) have not been very strong in the Southeast. There are not enough essential development enablers. The Southeast lacked an international airport until a few years ago. Even in cases where the zone can be reached by water through two or more sites, there isn’t a seaport within it. Superhighways and rail infrastructure are lacking, making it difficult to transport products and humans into and out of the Southeast.

Therefore, the Southeast Governors’ Forum (SEGOF), led by Senator Uche Ekwunife, has a difficult task ahead of it. Thank heavens, the Amazon in the saddle is a big doer, and we are fortunate to have some progressive governors. Together, they will restore the enviable reputation, prestige, and dignity of the Igbo people and nation. The great expectation is that the Southeast Zone will soon enter a peaceful and prosperous era.

Dr. Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought; drlawmefor@gmail.com; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.

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