Southwest governors yesterday signed up for a commitment to shun party differences and embark on regional development.
The six governors took the decision at a meeting held at the office of Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi in Agodi, Ibadan, the state capital.
The meeting was convened at Ajimobi’s instance.
Five governors – Ajimobi (Oyo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) attended.
Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Rotimi Adelola.
Also there were the Director General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Mr. Dipo Famakinwa; Acting Director General, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), Prof. Victor Adeyeye and the Group Managing Director, Odua Investments Limited, Mr. Adewale Raji.
The governors agreed to henceforth shun political differences and work together for the development, particularly in economy and infrastructural development.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Fayose said: “Our session was very interactive and a number of issues were agreed upon in order to better the lot of our people. We need to start playing politics of development, play politics that will bring food to the table of an average South Westerner.
“We have all agreed that beyond our differences, the people must come first, the region must come first, and we must have unity of purpose beyond politics, an economic base that we can all be proud of, regardless of our differences, and we have agreed to use this collaboration to improve on our infrastructure, security, commerce, agriculture, and beyond. I am sure we will stand together to achieve this for the people.
“Yes, we know we cannot finish it all but we must be seen to be doing it. We must be seen to bell the cat and sustain the gain for our people. All states, including Ekiti, have subscribed, agreed that regional integration is the best and the way for our people and we shall do everything humanly possible not to go back. It is forward for Southwest, it is forward for the people, and forward for the Yoruba race.
“The next meeting will come up in the next three months in Ekiti State, and I want to believe we are all looking forward to it.”
In a 12-point communique the Southwest Governors’ Forum expressed commitment to strengthening the DAWN Commission to enable it serve as the vehicle for development.
It reads: “Deliberations at the forum focused on developing and agreeing on a common and integrated front for reinforcing regional integration and economic development in Southwest Nigeria. The focus was on re-establishing the need for strong and implementable decisions that would put the Southwest Region back on the path of irreversible progress.
“At the end of the meeting, the leadership of the Region agreed and resolved that deliberate, concerted and determined collaborative and cooperative regional-based actions should be carried out with the following in mind:
“That the interest of the Yoruba people should be in focus at all times, and all politics must be politics of development.
“That regional cooperation, synergy and economics of scale is important to move the region forward.
“That good intentions must be backed by sincerity of purpose.
“That the prosperity of any constituent part is negated if others are not.
“That political differences should no longer be a barrier to the economic development of the Region while the welfare of the people should be foremost.
“A regime of continuity, regularity and urgency of interaction is important among the leadership of the region.
“The states should jointly embark on collaborative programmes in areas Security, Education, Transportation infrastructure including roads, rail and water transportation, Trade and Commerce linkages, Agriculture and Sports.
“That the DAWN Commission (the regional development agency for pursuing the regional integration agenda of the States of Western Nigeria, comprising Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo) should be vigorously strengthened to coordinate the regional development process.
“All the states agreed to work together within the framework of people-centric development.
“The present crop of governors must bequeath to the people a good legacy reflective of the visions of our founding fathers and common ancestors.
“That the current Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, should also serve as the Chairman of the Commission.
“ DAWN Commission shall develop programmes and activities along the identified areas of cooperation and bring them up for cooperative implementation.”
In his welcome address, Ajimobi underscored the importance of working together under the Yoruba concept of alajobi (blood relatives) in spite of political differences. He said leveraging on the strengths of each state while working together would help the region economically and in tackling insecurity and related challenges.
Ajimobi said: “As a people, there is a decline of relations. The quality of our social relations is defined by political, partisanship and electoral engagements. We must no longer allow politics and quest for political power to divide, redefine or distract us from the real issues of our common patrimony. We must be united around the issues that bind us together – culture.