President Goodluck Jonathan has hailed the contributions of the Igbo people, otherwise referred to as Ndigbo in the local parlance, to the development of the country.
In his message to the World Igbo Congress Day, held in Houston, Texas, USA last weekend, copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abuja Thursday by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, President Jonathan said: “it is befitting and positively symbolic that the World Igbo Congress of this year is taking place at a time we have just concluded a successful National Conference where your sons and daughters together with other Nigerians gathered to dialogue on ways of moving our country forward.”
He said the Igbo have cut a distinguishing niche in all aspects of our national life in the areas of Education, Sports, Politics, Science and Technology, Literary Excellence, Enterprise, Diplomacy, among others.
The President said “many in Nigeria and elsewhere see mainly your talents in enterprise which clearly stand out, but the Igbo, from our point of view, are much more than that.”
According to Jonathan, “Observers and admirers who see the enterprising nature of the Igbos, cite great Igbo names like Chief Louis Ojukwu, who, legend has it, was the first Nigerian to own a Rolls Royce in Lagos, and of course his equally unforgettable son, our own Ikemba Chief (Dim) Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu!”
He added that “Chief Louis Ojukwu’s amazing life story will need a special telling on another occasion,” saying ” We must also celebrate the first Nigerian to own an ocean going crude oil conveying tanker and engage in the crude oil export trade, Sir Onyechere Anyiam Osigwe.”
According to Jonathan, “ There is much more out of Igbo land! In entertainment, the Oriental brothers, the golden Chief Dr. Oliver De Coque, the stallion Lady Onyeka Onwenu, and many others who all donated their amazing voices and talents to an appreciative Nation as we dance in happiness.
“ In literary excellence, Chinua Achebe stands tall, supported by Cyprian Ekwensi, Chris Okigbo, Flora Nwakpa, Chinwezu and in recent times Chimamanda Adichie and many others. The Igbo donated Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, scholar, journalist, nationalist, foremost politician and first President of Nigeria, who in concert with Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Dappa Biriye and others, fought for our independence from Great Britain.
“The great Zik of Africa’s power of leadership example was so captivating it overwhelmed my paternal grandmother to name me after him. So, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I became at birth Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.”
President Jonathan said the time is now to build on the foundations laid by the elders and leaders in Igboland by adopting technology and planning, so as to deliver better planned functional modern cities that would attract the growing population of the Igbo in the diaspora, so that they can come back and settle to a lifestyle commensurate with what they have helped to develop elsewhere.
He said such planning must integrate and harmonise the industrial and trading activities of entrepreneurs in a way that they become more mutually beneficial and also take advantage of economies of scale and engender a more modern, friendly and comfortable business environment.
President Jonathan listed projects embarked upon by his administration in the South-East, to include the Owerri-Onitsha Road, the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, the Enugu–Port Harcourt road and the Nguju-Edda-Nporo-Ohafia road which cuts across Ebonyi and Abia States.
“ Our hope is that improved budget and Sure-P funding will see quicker action in the months ahead,” the President said.