L-R: Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose; Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode; Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko and Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga during the quarterly meeting of Southwest Governors in Ado Ekiti on Monday 13/2/17
By Leke Adeseri, South West Editor & Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado-Ekiti—IN continuation of their search for Regional Integration of the zone under the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), the Southwest Governors, yesterday, resolved to work together to address security challenges confronting the region and foster economic growth and well-being of the people.
Kidnapping and killer herdsmen, which have been issues of serious concern in the region, also received critical attention of the governors.
The meeting was attended by governors of Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states – Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Dr Olusegun Mimiko and Mr Ayodele Fayose, respectively.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State was represented by his Deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga.
Governor Ambode of Lagos State was the first to arrive the venue of the meeting, which was held at the new Governor’s Lodge at Oke-Ayaba, Ado-Ekiti.
The outgoing governor of Ondo State, Dr Mimiko arrived last and was the first to depart on the excuse that he had to leave to continue with the commissioning of his legacy projects.
Besides, Mimiko wore a sad look owing to the death of his Special Adviser on Infrastructure, Segun Olubola, who lost his life with two others in an accident at Kwali in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in a car crash.
The others that died in the accident were the 79-year-old Prime Minister of Akure kingdom, Chief James Olusoga and one Prince Tunde Adesida.
Also at the meeting was an array of Ekiti traditional rulers led by their Chairman, Oba Samuel Oladapo Oyebade, the Ologotun of Ogotun.
Colour was added to the event by praise singers at entrance of the Ekiti Government House, chanting, Gomina dada l’ayo Fayose.
Fayose’s wife, Feyisetan, who arrived the opening session late, got to the venue at 1.35pm but had to enter through the back door.
Uniform educational curriculum
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting of Southwest Governors’ Forum held at the Government House in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, the governors, also agreed to adopt a uniform educational curriculum to boost educational system in the region.
Fayose, who read the communiqué to journalists, said the governors resolved that all Commissioners of Police and intelligence institutions in the region will henceforth meet regularly to compare notes and work together to manage, in a concerted way the aerial, land and waterway security architecture of the region with State Governments supporting with the critical resources.
He said the governors also approved the report of the workshop on security, law and order in the Southwest hosted by Lagos State.
According to him, the governors also approved the constitution of a Regional Technical Working Group on integrated infrastructural development with regards to multi-modal transportation system such as highways, rail, water and air, as well as integration on energy and power, digital and telecoms and leisure and entertainment.
He said: “It was agreed that a committee should be set up on Federal Government allocations in agriculture to be accessed for regional benefit.
“An expanded committee to be set up to make consultations, give consideration and set objectives on the regional direction with regards to the federal budget on its implementation especially on agriculture with emphasis on irrigation and storage.”
Rise above partisan politics—Fayose
Earlier in his opening remarks, Fayose urged his colleagues in the region to rise above partisan politics and work for the unity and economic growth of the region.
He said it was time for leaders of the region to take affirmative action and speak with one voice on issues affecting the Yoruba nation.
The Ekiti state governor had earlier described the Federal Government’s allocation to the Southwest out of the N7 trillion 2017 budget as inadequate and too meagre to drive development in the zone.
This was just as he urged states in the zone to adopt a common strategy to curb the menace of herdsmen so as to prevent people of the region from being consumed by hunger, saying, “how do we continue to encourage our people to embrace farming when their investments are being lost daily?”
Governor Fayose, described the menace of herdsmen as a major impediment to the development of agriculture in the Southwest region.
Fayose pointed out that to move the Southwest zone forward, there must be respect for the political beliefs and opinions of others.
He, therefore urged the governors to refrain from doing anything that will undermine one another.
He also called for unity and brotherliness among governors and leaders in the Southwest zone, saying; “it is not our own making that we are brothers from the same zone, and if we are serious about developing this zone, we have no option than to be our brothers’ keeper.
The governor said the Southwest must collectively determine its place, benefits and status as Yoruba nation in the Nigerian nation, pointing out that “in the 2017 federal government budget, the Southwest is one of the least beneficiaries.
“The federal government 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 Akure – Ado 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.
“We must therefore ask pertinent questions. How much did the federal government allocate to irrigation, construction of dams and storage facilities to boast agriculture in the Southwest?”
His words: “I welcome you specially, to this very important meeting, which is aimed at fostering unity and development in the Southwest States.
“Particularly, I appreciate my brother governors for this visit, which to me and the people of Ekiti, is historic. It is historic because the meeting is holding in my state, not minding that the last meeting was my first attendance. I appreciate you.
“I also acknowledge our collective patriotism in fostering unity and development in the Southwest States. No doubt, your sincerity at the last meeting held in Ibadan, Oyo State won me over and I am now more than ever before, committed to the integration and collaboration of the Southwest States.”
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