…Admits Lagos Into Odua Group, Removes ‘No Man’s Land’ Status
By Independent Newspaper
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The recent move by the South West Governors towards regional integration through infrastructural development, as well as multimodal transportation may have set the tone for agitation for restructuring being canvassed by most Nigerians, according to some stakeholders.
The resolve by the Governors for a 25-year Western Nigeria Development Plan, to fast track development, may soon become reference point self-determination, according to them.
Last February, in Ekiti State, Governors, Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Abiola Ajimobi,Oyo; Akinwunmi Ambode,Lagos; Rotimi Akeredolu,Ondo; Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti; and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, states, under the aegis of Development Agenda for Western Region Commission (DAWN) met and resolved forget about political and religious differences and to join forces together, also in the area of security to stem kidnapping and armed robbery in the zone.
Some stakeholders, while agreeing that the proposed integration, which for the first time, may see Lagos dropping the toga of ‘no man’s land’ was essentially occasioned by the growing insecurity in the country.
Stakeholders, including Chief Ranti Adebisi, chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Chairman of Ekiti State Local government Commission, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, former council boss, Ebunoluwa Adegboruwa, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Wale Adeoye, Executive Director, Journalists For Democratic Rights (JODER) and the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere expressed optimism that the unity would hasten development in the region, as well as set tone for other national discourse.
For instance, Adebisi who lauded the efforts of the governors to come together for the development of the region described the new move as the best thing to have happened to the region since the days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Besides, he praised the governors for admitting Lagos State into the Odua group, saying the move was long overdue and that it would erase the impression that the state “is no man’s land” as being canvassed in some quarters.
He said: “On the issue of southwest integration, it is a welcome development and bringing Lagos into the family is long overdue. The regional integration will help the economy of weaker states of the region that are mostly agrarian with no industrial base.
“Lagos being the largest economy in Nigeria would become a ready market for all the farm products coming from these other states. It will equally lead to establishment of agro-allied industries in the other states.
“I agree that the cooperation led to the release of kidnapped school students, and if continued, criminals will have no hiding place in any of the contiguous states because of the renewed cooperation.”
Adegoroye said the regional integration if properly driven would assist in harmonising the enormous potentials available in the southwest.
Also, he stressed that it would help in the deployment of competent personnel across the region in realising the potentials of the southwest, adding that it would strengthen the cultural relation that existed in the time past.
According to him, “I think this is one of the unwritten thoughts of those that drafted the document introducing geopolitical zones in Nigeria. It will strengthen cultural relationship that exists in all its ramifications.
“Lagos State is seen, and known to be culturally related to other states in the southwest, and its enormous wealth and cosmopolitan nature will add the flavour necessary for global participation.”
Adeoye lauded Ambode’s contribution to the southwest regional integration, saying he has done excellently well by inspiring other governors to come together for the good of the region and the people.
Yinka Odumakin, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, who was full of praises for Ambode, noted that it is during his administration that Lagos State keyed into Oodua Investment to cement the oneness of the Yoruba nation.
He said: “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 realisable within effective partnership with his brother governors so our states can benefit from one another by creating jobs and providing food security,” he said.
He added, “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 regionaldevelopment 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.”
He lauded the decision of the governors to set up a joint task force to tackle insecurity in the region and also harness the competitive advantage of constituent states for sustainable regional development.
He described as a bold move the decision of the governors to convene a regional agric summit in Ibadan towards 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.