South West governors endorse regional economic integration
Integration of the Southwest region through joint security network to enhance socio-economic development as well as adoption of a uniform education curriculum to address declining moral standards and sports formed the kernel of a regional governors’ meeting yesterday in Ado Ekiti.
The state chief executives agreed to make it a matter of compulsion to monitor Federal Government’s agricultural allocations for the zone in order to boost farming.
In a communiqué read by the host, Ayodele Fayose, the governors also expressed their commitment to improve the welfare of their people, just as they also agreed to constitute a “Regional Technical Working Group (TWG) on Southwest Integration Infrastructural Development through a multi-modal transportation system, digital and telecoms; leisure and entertainment as well as water infrastructure.
Besides Fayose, also at the meeting were Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos) and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, who was represented by his deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga.
To achieve their economic integration strategy, they also agreed that the Oodua Investment Group would “serve as a special purpose vehicle to drive the regional economic integration mission.”
The governors equally decided to “set up a committee on federal allocations in agriculture to be accessed for regional benefit. And to achieve this, the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) has been instructed to raise a dedicated desk in Abuja.”
During the opening session, Fayose had decried the allocation captured in the 2017 budget for the zone, saying it could barely drive development in the zone.
He also canvassed for a concerted effort to tackle the menace of rampaging herdsmen and spur the youths into embracing commercial agriculture.
Fayose pointed out that to move the zone forward, there must be respect for the political beliefs and opinions of others, urging the governors to refrain from engaging in any act capable of undermine one another.
His words: “For instance, in the 2017 Federal Government budget, the Southwest is one of the least beneficiaries. The 2017 budget is about N7 trillion and the only capital project allocated to Ekiti State is the Akure–Ado Ekiti road to which N250 million was earmarked.
“What can N250 million do on a road that is begging for reconstruction? There is even no guarantee that the N250 million budgetary provision will be made available at the end of the day. I am sure this is applicable to other states too compared to other zones.”