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The South-West Regional Integration

cenaWalk
States | Kebbi
SOUTH-West governors recently converged on Ibadan, the ancient political city of the region, to chart a new economic direction for Western Nigeria. THE governors at the end of the meeting resolved to leverage on their collective resources to improve the economy and the well-being of their people. THE governors, who were from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States, also agreed to jettison their political differences and work together for the development of the region. THEY, the governors, approved the constitution of a joint-task force to contain security threats and guarantee the safety of lives and property of the people. They plan to convene a regional agric summit in Ibadan, aimed at improving food security and the establishment of Western Nigeria Export Development Initiative. THE governors have vowed not to allow artificial boundaries of state, religion, and political affiliation to distract them and promised to encourage member states to improve bilateral and multilateral co-operations to foster regional development. THE HOPE commends this lofty moves by the governors, reason being that there is beauty in togetherness. OBSERVERS say there is power in unity. We observe that problems and challenges of the South-West, even its natural advantages and physical endowments, are uniquely peculiar. Therefore, the region cannot continue to pretend that issues confronting it and its people can be solved on a case-by-case, insular state basis. WE observe that the inclusion of Lagos State in Odu’a Investment Company Limited, jointly owned by the states in the South-West, will accelerate the pace of growth and development of the region and fast-track its integration. OUR belief is that the good financial rating of Lagos in the global market will assist in the growth and development of the South-West. The collaboration would foster comparative advantage, where the states would provide what they have for the general development of the region. ALSO, with the pace and standard set by Lagos in terms of infrastructural growth and development, the integration will be a quick one. It would make it easy for other states to pursue Lagos and effectively implement a system of rail transportation and boost their agricultural production. For instance, states like Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ogun would increase food production; Ondo would provide various mineral resources that can be tapped while the finances can be got from Lagos. BOTH raw and processed products from such farms would be brought back to Lagos for effective sales, given the remarkable and huge market potential of the state. THE HOPE sees the integration as a new dawn for the region. Since economic potential of South-West will be harnessed, it will also transform the region economically and socially. WE believe that the zone can produce the food needs of the nation and even export to other countries. For example, the Lagos-Kebbi partnership on rice production can be replicated in the South-West and extended to other agricultural products, now that Lagos has joined the Odu’a Investment Company. The states can harness their resources and introduce mechanised farming that would attract unemployed youths as well as boost agricultural production. IT is heart-warming to note that the governors of the Odu’a Investment Company owner states recently announced a five-year plan to raise the revenue base of the conglomerate from N4 billion to N20 billion in 2019. The decision must have been taken to reposition the company, having realised that it is the engine room of economic growth and development of the South-West. WE also commend the decision of the Odu’a states to jointly tackle the problem of insecurity in the region . A network approach is needed to achieve maximum success in this regard. If uniform security measures are put in place, criminals will not have a hiding place in the South-West. For instance, kidnapping is rampant in the South-West because some states like Lagos, Ogun and Ondo have riverine areas. If the states can jointly police these areas effectively, it will minimise kidnapping. It is even more cost-effective than each state doing it in its own way. The end result is that the region will attract more investors, whether local or foreign. THE Odu’a Group has already provided a solid base for the economic integration and development in the South-West. The region’s governors must be determined to revitalise the group, realise the vision of its founding fathers and transform it into a vehicle for regional transformation.
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