By Tunde Oyekola, Osogbo
Two of the six Governors of the South-West States: Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun and Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo were conspicuously absent at the two days meeting which open in Osogbo, Osun State on Sunday night.
Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola while addressing the meeting said that the two governors were neither present nor sent any representatives to the meeting which extensively discussed the common interest agenda of the Yoruba speaking States.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode was represented by his Deputy, Idiat Adebule while Ishaq Ajimobi of Oyo State was represented by his deputy, Moses Alake Adeyemo with the Ekiti State Secretary to the government, Abiodun Oyebanji standing in for Dr Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State.
Aregbesola also said that the governor elect of Osun State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola was also present at the meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Governor Aregbesola of Osun raised the alarm over the incessant gridlock on Apapa Expressway, Lagos.
Aregbesola at the meeting of the forum tagged Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) in the Government House, Osogbo said, “There is a major calamity now threatening the economy of Yoruba land and the nation at large. It is the gridlock on Apapa expressway in Lagos. The goods that takes few days to get to the hinterland now take months to get to the importers. We need to urgently address this.”
Appealing to the Federal Government to work with the Lagos State Government to fast-track the movement of goods from Apapa port to the hinterland, Aregbesola called on the Nigeria Railway Corporation to provide solution by commencing a distributive network for all the goods coming into Apapa port.
He also called on both the Federal and Lagos State Governments to provide alternative routes for the cargoes from Apapa alone terminating in a place like Ifo. This was because similar bye-pass was developed by Lagos state Government to link Apapa with Iba in 2002.
Going historical, Aregbesola disclosed how regional integration was exploited by nations like China, Yugoslavia, Chekoslavia, European Union for their development agendas.
While he was in support of restructuring, he however called for the use of existing structures to effect integration and development of our region before necessary constitutional review.
To him, nothing stops the Western region from having an examination body to aid its educational development, single produce board to eliminate smuggling within the region, single surveillance and security arrangement, regional sporting competition. He suggested the establishment of Western Nigeria Commonwealth of Universities with headquarters in Ibadan whereby all the State Universities would be turned to colleges of specialized fields in order to optimize resources. This, he said would make the region be like Nepal University with over 3 million students.
He also called for the strengthening of industries like cocoa processing, tourism attracting the diaspora back home, promotion of Yoruba history, tradition and culture as well as teaching of Omoluabi ethos in schools.
He therefore appealed to DAWN to consider the beauty of integration and restructuring so that other regions in the country could follow suit.