Having identified political differences as the bane of socio-economic growth and development of the six states of the South West Nigeria, especially during political era, governors of the zone have resolved to work together and give a new economic life to overall development of the region.
The governors, including Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State; Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State; Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State; Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, unveiled a 25-year Western Nigeria Development Master Plan, which intends to fully explore agriculture and mineral resources as economic powerhouse of the region.
All the six South West governors at a quarterly meeting held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Monday, launched a Forum of Western Nigeria Governors as a rally point where critical socio-economic issues would be raised and addressed for the realisation of Western Nigeria, weaning the region of federal allocation with special focuses on agriculture, mineral resources, taxation and exports.
The unveiling of the 25-year master plan came barely a week after Ambode, Lagos governor, went on working visits to Osun and Oyo states where he pledged a facilitation of effective use of massive arable land in the region in order to massively explore agricultural potentials of the region.
Welcoming the governors to the meeting organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), Governor Amosun said the meeting was held for Economic Self Determination for Southwest Nigeria with a special focus on South Western Nigeria Export Initiative.
Amosun said that the Southwest region would leverage favourable climatic condition and geographical location and total landmass of the six states to drive an aggressive agricultural programme and mining policy that would feed, improve on industrialisation and overall economy through huge exports commitment.
To achieve this, the governor said, “I suggest we encourage more mechanised farming systems to improve on productivity, speed up harvesting, enhance processing and advance storage so that our products will meet world-class standard and be more desirable for export.
“In addition to Agriculture, the entire Southwest region is also blessed with a high potential in the extracting industry. For example, in Ogun state, we have an abundant deposit of limestone that is suitable for cement production. Without sounding immodest, Ogun state is capable of providing enough cement for the infrastructural development of the country, if required.
“Also, just recently, Lagos state discovered crude oil in commercial quantities, and exploration will commence soon, not leaving behind Ondo state, which is already one of the oil-producing states in Nigeria. It is of note that Ogun state, also boasts of crude oil deposits in the Tongeji and Olokola areas which give advantage to the region as three out of the six states have a large deposit of crude oil.
“The bitumen in Ogun/Ondo belt is the second largest deposit in the world which is also yearning for prospective investors therein. Oyo, Osun and Ekiti are also naturally endowed with several mineral resources and in commercial qualities.”
At the end of the meeting which had in attendance all the six governors of the Southwest states, a jointly signed communique was read by Governor Amosun thus, “The theme of the meeting is Self Determination for Western Nigeria. DAWN is directed to develop a 25 year Western Nigeria Development Master Plan.
“That a Joint Task Force and Joint Action will be pursued and sustained on security threat to governance, safety of lives, property and prosperity of the people of the region. Western Nigeria is hereby declared a zero tolerance to crimes.
“That the artificial boundary of states, religion, political affiliations will not be a barrier to regional development. All the states are encouraged to significantly improve bilateral and multilateral cooperations to foster regional development. The competitive advantage of constituent’s states will be harnessed for sustaining regional.
“That DAWN should develop a revenue optimisation strategy for constituents states of the region. In order to improve food security of the region, DAWN should convey a regional agric summit to be held in Ibadan. Approval is given for the establishment or Western Nigeria Export Development Initiative to drive the export potentials of the region.
“That synergy of DAWN Commission, Oodua Group and critical stakeholders should develop a framework to drive the commercial and industrialization competitiveness of the region.
That a Committee be set up for the codification of our values and our ethoes as an instrument of Yoruba uniqueness to strengthen our identity and unity of purpose. And finally, that this Forun be known henceforth as Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum.”
RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta