Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has backed the regional integration of the southwest governors saying it will facilitate all-round development of the zone.
The zone comprises Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ondo. The governors, including Akinwunmi Ambode, Ayo Fayose, Ibikunle Amosun, Rauf Aregbesola and Rotimi Akeredolu, respectively, have recently been meeting to advance the economic and political interest of the zone.
One of the fallouts of their meetings has been the resolve to join forces together in the area of security to stem kidnapping and armed robbery in the zone. The rescue of six students of Igbonla Model College, Epe, who were kidnapped in Lagos, but freed in Ondo last Friday, after 65 days in captivity is seen as one of the fallouts of the joint efforts among the states in the southwest.
Yinka Odumakin, the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, particularly lauded the Lagos State governor, Ambode, saying that it is during his administration that Lagos State keyed into Oodua Investment to cement the oneness of the Yoruba nation.
“It is gratifying to note the sense of history of the Governor (Ambode) in remembering the role the Western Regional Government under Awolowo played in the development of the entire West when Cocoa was our mainstay by committing to use the economic strength of Lagos to rob positively on other states in Yorubaland.
“Ambode has on behalf of Lagos State, pledged to invest billions of naira to acquire vast acres of land in the hinterland states of Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun for modern, technologically driven farming. Both raw and processed products from such farms would be brought back to Lagos for effective sales, given its remarkable and huge market potential of the State.
“This is quite commendable and realizable within effective partnership with his brother governors so our states can benefit from one another by creating jobs and providing food security,” the Group said.
Alluding to the meeting held by the Governors in Abeokuta recently, the Afenifere backed the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting which amongst other things proposed a joint task force to be set up to tackle the incidence of insecurity in the region and also harness the competitive advantage of constituent states for sustainable regional development.
Afenifere also lauded the move by the Governors to convene a regional agric summit in Ibadan aimed at improving food security of the region and also the establishment of a Western Nigeria Export Development Initiative (WENEDI) to drive the export potentials of the region.
“It is equally salutary that the governors agreed that the artificial boundaries of states, religions, political affiliations, among others, would not be a barrier to regional development and urged all the states to be encouraged to significantly improve bilateral and multilateral co-operation to foster regional development.
“We are happy that they have affirmed commitment to the development of our people to override petty party differences .It is not an accident that the Yoruba call party “Pati”(set aside).We must set aside things that divide as we search for verb for our noun in the syntax of national experience.
“We urge them to match these words with action in order to ensure that the Yoruba nation is restored to the right path of giant developmental strides which the years of unitary rule have derailed us from. It’s time to resume our march of history,” Afenifere said.