By Josephine Oguntoyinbo
The need to support the South Western Governors of Nigeria to ensure regional integration for towards the development of Yoruba states and the people has been highlighted.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties, Prof. Bayonle Ademodi, made the call during a stakeholders’ sensitisation forum on regional integration, organised by the Ministry and held in Akure,the state capital.
He said the need for South West integration became imperative as over the years, the region is yet to realize its full socio– economic potential despite its immense endowments, adding that the environment is insufficiently attractive to business in general.
Prof. Ademodi said integration of the region will put an end to the decline in the region’s economic and infrastructural growth and will enable the states to have better revenue source rather than overdependence of the federal allocation which has plummeted in the wake of huge drops in international prices of crude oil.
He also appealed to the people to own the development agenda for western Nigeria, otherwise known as the DAWN Commission, noting that the stakeholders Forum will provide information on the basic concept of South West Regional Integration, serve as a way of obtaining relevant inputs towards ensuring effective and impactful representation of Ondo State interests in the South West regional integration project and thus taking advantage of its inherent opportunities.
The University Don maintained that the forum will also educate stakeholders on the overall essence and rationale for regional integration in Ondo State, engender broad buy-ins for the agreed regional deliverables among the political class, public service, socio cultural organisations, among others; set agenda for domestication of regional best practices in Ondo State and ensure proper monitoring and evaluation for regional integration programmes and projects.
Speaking at the event, the keynote Speaker and the Writer of the popular book, “a history of Yoruba people “, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said it is a good initiative and decision for the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, to have affirmed recently that the governments of South West will be taking the same position that bothers on the needs of the Yoruba race.
He said the unity of the South West Nigeria is sacrosanct, describing Yoruba as one people with sole destiny that cannot be divided by any political or otherwise differences.
Prof. Akintoye also commended the stakeholders for coming up with development agenda for the region, noting that the Yoruba people are very educated, exposed, developed, modern, distinguished, and credited for outstanding successes within and outside Nigeria.
The Yoruba Veteran who retraced the history and expansion of Yorubas’ across the world, admonished the Yoruba leaders and stakeholders to support the agenda of the Governors towards development of South West, Nigeria,stressing that the unity of Yorubas’ and collective utilisation of resources would have prevented the Yoruba nation in the pre-colonial era from becoming a British colony and however observed that collective interest is needed at this time to ensure economic, infrastructural stability and development is achieved in the region.
Similarly, the Chairman, Afenifere Renewal Group, Mr. Wale Oshun,who spoke on the topic “South West Regional Integration;Way To Go” said there is need for the South Western States to work together to promote security, economy, infrastructure, transportation and collective agenda beneficial to the Yoruba states, describing the people in the South West region as one, irrespective of slight differences in culture and language.
He urged the South West Governors to have united voice on government policies, integrate powerful development drives and express political will that will propel government machineries to recommend policies that will be beneficial to the region.