By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Monsur Olowoopejo & Gabriel Olawale
Lagos—GOVERNORS of the South West region, under the auspices of the Western Nigerian Governors Forum, yesterday, resolved to forge regional integration among the states even as it formally admitted Lagos State into the O’dua Investment Group.
Specifically, the Governors resolved to embark on a Rice Accelerated Programme for Integrated Development (Western RAPID) to further consolidate actions on food security and job creation in the region, while a Regional Agriculture Summit to be sponsored by Lagos State, was agreed to be held in Ibadan in May 2018.
Governors Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, in a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day quarterly meeting held at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, also ratified a document allowing Lagos to acquire land in their respective states for massive rice cultivation and production.
The forum, which is being coordinated through the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, Commission, also signified interest in the concession of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
However, Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, who represented Governor Amosun, raised some reservations about the land deal, saying that the state government on account of previous issues with Lagos on the similar subject matter would be refraining from releasing land to the state until the said issues were resolved.
Onanuga said: “I must be quick to let you know why we are not signing the MoU. I think we thank the governments of the Western region for what we are doing today. However, we have some reservations as it is a concern to us in Ogun state, which I quickly want to mention. You will also recall that Lagos State, a long time ago, applied and was granted 1000 hectares of land to do rice.
“We properly allocated this land and issued C of Os to encourage Lagos in the spirit of sister states. We actually stepped down our own rice effort, concentrated on other things.
“Lagos promised massive rice cultivation at that time, aside generally empowering our farmers and increases their capacity but that remained promises.
“Nothing happened beyond the land clearing. Lagos did nothing on the land, to make matter worse; the current administration in its wisdom abandoned the prospect all together it went elsewhere. We would be prepared to sign this MoU latter when these issues are straightened out.”
Reacting to the issues raised by Ogun State, Governor Ambode said: “What has happened is that we wanted to expand the agric output of our rice mill and in doing so, we decided that all the south-west states should be able to cultivate rice and supply paddy to the proposed rice mill that is coming up in Imota in Lagos.”