Lagos: Powering Southwest integration agenda
The clamour for a paradigm shift in the nation’s leadership landscape; especially with regard to the emergence of younger and more brilliant politicians to mount the podium and direct the affairs of the country is a call whose time has come. Governance and more so, that of a nation as intricate, engaging and tasking as ours is not a tea party. It is not meant for geriatrics, who should be enjoying their dusky moments in sober serenity. In fact, this call rings true with the dynamics of global politics.
For instance, months ago, Emmanuel Macron became one of the youngest French Prime Ministers with the electoral victory at the age of 39 years. Similarly, Juri Ratas, the current Prime Minister of Estonia came into office late 2016 at the age of 38. His work has been monumental in initiating changes in the wage policy of the country.
And back home here in Nigeria, we are beginning to see the immense benefits inherent in thrusting and trusting the levers of political power in the hands of equally young politicians. One is talking about politicians with fecund minds, literally brimming with veritable ideas to translate dreams to concrete reality. One of such is the inimitable, creative, energetic and people-friendly Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state.
Worthy of note is his political dexterity, so far exhibited in powering the economic integration, regeneration and renaissance of the Southwest geo-political axis. Ambode broke another jinx by effectively pulling Lagos to the Oodua Investment Group. This is another first in a long list of politico-economic feats achieved within a short span of only two years.
To hit the ground running, he 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, huge market potentials. This makes a lot of sense.
Similar agreements have been reached, in key sectors such as security and the economy based on the regional integration of the Southwest zone. The meeting held at the instance of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) goes with the theme, ‘Economic Self-Determination for Western Region.’ Part of the communiqué is hinged on the setting up of a Joint Task Force and action to contain all forms of security threats, including the sweeping wave of kidnapping and senseless attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen.
The governors, apart from declaring zero tolerance for all forms of crime and criminality will institute policies to guarantee the safety of lives and property for all the residents in their states. With such guarantee, economic activities are likely to flourish. That explains the reason for directing DAWN to develop a 25-year Western Nigeria Development Master Plan, and also calling on all the states in the region to encourage bilateral and multilateral cooperation to foster sustainable regional development.
But why going to such length for this noble ambition, one may ask? The answer lies with the foresightedness of the governors, knowing full well that with the increasing agitation for self- determination, restructuring is only a matter of time. They do not want to be left holding the short end of the nation’s economic stick. Not in the least.
And the governors are aware too that instrumental to their overall success would be the growing economic stability and expansion of Lagos State. They are so delighted that with Lagos in the saddle it has been one giant step taken after another in the critical areas of security, infrastructural development, transportation, healthcare delivery and youth empowerment.
Instructively, Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, a political tactician was therefore not mincing words when he described his Lagos state counterpart as “the Governor-General of Nigeria.” On his part, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State sees Ambode as “Mr. Innovator, who has ballooned the development of Lagos within two years to the admiration and amazement of millions of citizens’ He describes him as “the most approachable governor in Nigeria.”
Not left out of the encomiums is the revered General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, who calls Ambode: “A man of excellence, who has passion for the downtrodden and the humility to serve God.” And apparently to add another feather to his colourful cap, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo not known for praising politicians has given Ambode the title of a ‘great performer.”
While Chief Bode George of the opposing People’s Democratic Party (PDP) exclaimed that: “I have never met this young man, but I must say that I am impressed with his performance so far, especially in the area of infrastructural developments.” National leader of the ruling APC the strategist and pathfinder of modern day Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu added the icing on the sweet cake. Said he: “Ambode is a wonder kid on the political block – a man who plans meticulously and executes such plans without necessarily making noise. He has become a shining light in less than two years.” In the face of these appellations, Governor Ambode has remained humble and committed to the worthy ideals of limitless possibilities.
• Ajanaku is SSA, Media & Strategy, to Gov Ambode
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