From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Governors of the six states in the South-West yesterday disclosed plans to initiate a 25-year Western Nigeria Development Master-Plan, to fast-track development in the region.
The governors stated this in a communique issued at the end of quarterly South-West Governors’ Forum meeting, under the aegis of Development Agenda for Western Region Commission (DAWN) held in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
They also said the region would initiate a joint task force and joint action that will be pursued and sustained on security threat to governance, safety of lives, property and prosperity of the people of the region.
The meeting had in attendance, governors, Ibikunle Amosun, Abiola Ajimobi, Ayodele Fayose and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo states respectively.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos and his Osun State counterpart, Raufu Aregbesola, also attended the meeting.
The governors said artificial boundary of states, religion, political affiliations would no longer be a barrier to regional development and added that states would be encouraged to improve bilateral and multilateral cooperation to foster regional development.
Declaring western Nigeria a zero tolerance for crimes, the Forum which announced its change of name to Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said approval had been given for the establishment or Western Nigeria Export Development Initiative to drive the export potential of the region.
The communique reads in part: “That the competitive advantage of constituents states will be annexed for sustaining regional regional.
“That DAWN should develop a revenue optimisation strategy for constituents states of the region.
“That in order to improve food security of the region, DAWN should convey a regional agricultural summit to be held in Ibadan.
“That synergy of DAWN Commission, Oodua Group and critical stakeholders should develop a framework to drive the commercial and industrialisation competitiveness of the region.
“That a committee be set up for the codification of our values and our ethos as an instrument of Yoruba uniqueness to strengthen our identity and unity of purpose.
“And finally, that we should be known henceforth as Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum.”
Earlier, the host governor, Amosun, said unless the six states identified and harness their natural resources for economic development, the states would continue what he termed ‘bowl-in-hand’ practice to seek allocation from Abuja.
Amosun, who described the theme of the meeting, “Economic Self-Determination for South-West Nigeria” with special focus on “South-Western Nigeria Export Initiative” as apt, said the six states needed to explore and strengthen their different areas of comparative advantage and pool together for further development of the entire region.
The governor further urged the South-West governors to take advantage of the region geographical location, climatic condition and the total landmass to drive an agricultural programme capable of feeding the region, its neighbours and beyond.