Determined to curb a high incidence of kidnapping, cultism and herdsmen attacks, the South-West governors have agreed to form a joint task force to pursue and sustain joint actions that will guarantee the safety of lives, property and prosperity of the people of the geopolitical zone.
This was contained in the communique released at the end of the quarterly meeting of the governors under the umbrella of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission held on Monday at the MITROS Hall, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
All the six governors of the geopolitical zone, Akinwunmi Ambode, (Lagos); Rauf Aregbesola, (Osun); Abiola Ajimobi, (Oyo); Rotimi Akeredolu, (Ondo); Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti); and the host governor of Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun, were present.
Amosun, who read the communiqué after the meeting, said the governors focused on strong and implementable decisions that would drive the sustainable development of the geopolitical zone.
The meeting, he said, held under the theme, “Economic self-determination for Western Nigeria; the export alternative.”
He said the governors had declared a zero tolerance for crime in the South-West, adding that the artificial boundaries of states, religions, and political affiliations would not be a barrier to regional development.
Amosun also said the forum had changed its name to Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, adding that the governors had directed the DAWN Commission to develop a 25-year masterplan for the development of the South-West.
The governors, he said, had agreed that all the states should improve bilateral and multilateral cooperation to foster regional development, adding that the competitive advantage of constituent states would be harnessed for sustainable regional development.
The governors, according to the communique, directed the DAWN commission to develop a revenue optimisation strategy for constituent states of the geopolitical zone.
“In order to improve the food security of the region, DAWN should convene a regional agriculture summit to be held in Ibadan, “ the communiqué added.
Amosun added that the governors also gave approval for the establishment of a Western Nigeria Export Development Initiative to drive the export potential of the geopolitical zone.
To develop regional industrialisation of the South-West, the forum advocated synergy among DAWN Commission, ODU’A Group and other critical stakeholders to develop a framework to drive the industrial competitiveness of the area.
The governors also recommended that a committee be set up for the codification of Yoruba values and ethos as an instrument of the ethnic group’s uniqueness to strengthen its identity and unity of purpose.
Earlier in his welcome address, Amosun had said the time had come for the South-West states to map out strategies to harness their natural resources for socio-economic development, instead of depending on federal allocation.
He said, “We can do this by exploring and strengthening the different areas of comparative advantage of our states which will then be pooled together for further development of the different states and the entire geopolitical zone.
“We have seen it done as a region before, so it is not as if it cannot be done. All we need is the will and commitment to make it happen.”
Also expressing their individual commitments to the forum, the other governors also hailed the move for regional development and cohesion.
Aregbesola, in his remark, said the South-West must harness its strength for the benefit of the people.
He said, “If we look critically at the achievements we had as a singular state of Western Region, we must be mindful of the fact that as a singular state then, we achieved more than now when we are divided into six states.
“We must identify our strength, unify those strengths and explore them for the benefit of our people.”
On his own part, Ajimobi pleaded with his colleagues to do away with ego-problem and develop interpersonal relationship.