Southwest governors met yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, with their host, Ayo Fayose, calling for brotherly love among them.
He said: “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 brother’s keeper.
Fayose, in his welcome address , said the Southwest rail project will go a long way in changing the zone’s economic fortunes and usher in a new beginning, pleading that “the project must not die”.
At the meeting were Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) who was represented by his deputy, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga.
The host called for a common education curriculum and a security synergy to curb crimes across boundaries of member-states.
He condemned allocation to the Southwest in the 2017 budget of the Federal Government, most especially on construction and rehabilitation of federal roads in the zone, water and irrigation projects.
The governor said: “The 2017 budget is about N7 trillion and the only capital project allocated to Ekiti State is the Akure–Ado-Ekiti Road for which N250 million was allocated.
“What can N250 million do on a road begging for reconstruction? There is even no guarantee that the N250 million will be made available.
“We must ask pertinent questions. How much did the Federal Government allocate to irrigation, construction of dams and storage facilities to boast agriculture in the Southwest?”
Preaching ideals of brotherliness, Fayose advised leaders in the zone to respect opposing political beliefs and opinions.
“To move the zone forward, we must respect opposing political beliefs and opinions.
“To me, national politics should add value to us, and not divide us.
“Americans fight their political battles without undermining their nation’s collective interests and that is the kind of spirit with which we must operate if the Yoruba nation must regain its pride of place in the nation.
“We must constantly ask ourselves; where is the Southwest in the scheme of things in Nigeria?
Fayose also used the forum to adopt a common strategy to curb the menace of herdsmen.
He described the menace of herdsmen as a major impediment to the development of agriculture in the region.
“How do we continue to encourage our people to embrace farming when their investments are lost daily?”
The governor concluded: “I must not end this address without mentioning the rail project we discussed in our last meeting. This project will go a long way in changing the zone’s economic fortune and this initiative must not die.
“In closing, while appreciating the efforts of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to Ekiti where we always come first in education.
“I thank you for conceding the hosting of this meeting to my state, not minding that I have only attended once. This brotherly love, I will not take for granted. I see this as the new beginning for the Southwest.”