Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, on Thursday, described his Lagos State counterpart, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as the Governor-General of Nigeria, saying that the position of Lagos as the economic nerve centre of the country and the brilliant performance of the Governor in office could not be downplayed in any form.
Speaking while receiving Governor Ambode on a courtesy visit at Government House in Oke-Fia Osogbo, Aregbesola said considering the fact that the economy of Lagos was about the summation of economies of thirty States in Nigeria, one would be denying the obvious not to recognize the vantage position of the State and its Governor in the scheme of affairs in the country.
“I recognise the Governor of Lagos State who by my own assessment is the Governor General of Nigeria. I say so for a very good reason. It is not a question of age of the occupant of that office or his tenure. It is simply an attestation to the fact that the economy of Lagos is about the summation of the economies of thirty States in Nigeria. One will be deceiving himself not to recognize that fact,” Aregbesola said.
While recalling similar visit to former Governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande by the then Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Aregbesola described Governor Ambode’s visit as historic and apt coming at a time when the State lost some illustrious indigenes and in the wake of democratic assault which he recently suffered, saying that he had been greatly encouraged, motivated and given calm disposition by the visit.
He particularly commended Governor Ambode for his clear expression of commitment to economic integration and development of south west, saying that beyond rhetorics, concrete steps must now been taken to actualise the vision in the overall interest and benefit of the people.
He said it would be disastrous for any State in the region to assume it can make any meaningful progress without integration, adding that it is in the interest of all the six states in the region to work together.
“The only state with the clout and the muzzle to shun collaboration and integration superficially is Lagos and that too will be to its eternal regret because if the adjoining states to Lagos are underdeveloped, the consequence on Lagos is tragic. If it requires trekking from any part of the region to get to Lagos, people will do it and Lagos will have a huge number of internally displaced people who you cannot send away because they speak the same language with you anyway.
“Even going national, there is no tribe or section of the country that is not properly represented in Lagos. So, if people come from as far North as Biu to Lagos, what more of Ikole, Ipetumodu and Arigidi. People will move and Lagos will have unending challenge of at least catering for their municipal needs. So, it is in the interest of Lagos as it is in the interest of other states to pursue with vigor this clamor for effective integration of not only our economy, but our political, social, commercial and educational relationship, among others,” Aregbesola said.
He added that it was only through integration that the region could take maximum advantage of its comparative competitiveness.
Earlier, Governor Ambode said the visit was basically to show solidarity and reflect and expand the brotherhood that the south west region was striving to achieve especially by ensuring the success of the integration of the Yoruba nation.
“I am here to say that I want to further the economic partnership that should exist between the State of Osun and Lagos State. Yes, we have Lake Rice, yes we have a partnership with Kebbi State but the economic integration and food security of the south west remains in the vineyard of Osun and other states that surround Lagos.
“Obviously, we have the consumer strength of the market, we have the commerce but we must integrate backward towards the south west and ensure that the economic prowess of the regional integration that we set out to achieve is put in place for generations yet unborn.
“We have a historic duty and which Governor Aregbesola has continued to champion that we must stand up for the regional integration of the south west because therein lies the future prosperity of the Yoruba nation. I commit myself to that vision. I also commit myself to the vision of the south west governors to the effect that time has come for us to stand up as leaders for our people,” Governor Ambode said.
Besides, Governor Ambode commended Aregbesola for his unwavering commitment and loyalty to progressive ideology of Asiwaju Tinubu, as well as remaining a symbol of steadfastness in the midst of storms.