The reemergence of Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the new governor of Ekiti State starting from October 16th, 2018, will no doubt invegorate the call for more synergy amongst the states of the west. Particularly, we are expecting greater cooperation between the incoming Ekiti State governor and his counterpart in Ondo State. No one should tell the two friendly governors that now is the best opportunity to reconstruct and make a dual carriageway between the road linking Ekiti and Ondo States. The opportunities this singular development action will bring to the two states and Nigeria are better imagine. (I leave that to the economists in the house to do justice to that).
Even as the implementation of the Southwest regional economic reintegration policy is taking a slow pace, one think that politics, ego and lack of clear cut vision have been a major hindrance in the full scale implementation of this strategic development action. Even when some doubts have also been expressed regarding the viability of the development policy, Dr. Fayemi, one of the key stakeholders in the formulation of the DAWN document says the integration policy will transform the Southwest economy and stimulate quick growth and development.
Explaining his views behind the policy in one of his previous interviews with journalists, Dr. Fayemi, a multi talented development activist, said within the context of true federalism, such programme is important for the democratic growth of the Southwest, and Nigeria.
According to him, there is the need to foster integration and cooperation across the states of the previous Western Region – Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Edo – by leveraging on the unique competencies of each state, in order to uplift their competitive edges and thereby promote a synergy that leads to the creation of a more efficient economy in the Southwest.
Fayemi is of the opinion that the coming to power of progressive government in the states, would provide the push towards regional integration, as a means of securing a shared basis for growth and development.
Hear him, “Regional integration is fundamentally a mechanism that encapsulates our common history, values, experiences, social and political goals. This determination to bond for growth has been with our people and precursors prior to the days of colonialism, when political and economic structures that were unique were set up, which were not only enviable across Africa, but were fairly competitive in the world. And, besides the unprecedented template of the Western Region’s achievements between 1952 and 1959, there is also the history of the mutually beneficial cooperation that existed among the LOOBO (Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Bendel and Ogun) States between 1979 and 1982.”
“The case for a notion of regional development that transcends limited state boundaries is necessitated by the purpose of revising the construct of a territorial state, where artificial boundaries have become the legitimating force for arrested development in several states, which are merely empty constitutional entities that have no relevance to their people. Therefore, one could argue in favour of a confinable regional development mechanism that is properly structured as the basis of a sustainable democratic agenda.”
On why the Southwest leadership now resorts to regionalism in a federal situation, Fayemi explained that regionalism seeks to enable the process of political, legal, economic, social and cultural cooperation among states, as a way of rapidly boosting their growth and development.
When properly conceived and operated, he said it would facilitate the execution of projects across participating states in areas of mutual benefit and comparative advantage, in a manner that reinvents the development paradigm of the old Western region.
He said, “Regionalism is about the development of the Southwest along lines that conceive the region as an economic block that would facilitate a cost effective approach to the development of infrastructure, industrialisation, commerce, the environment and agriculture. It is about development as freedom and the essential basis of creating life more abundant.”
“Moreover, the current global economic downturn and the efforts to rise out of this has made the development of a regional model of economic and social organisation more relevant as units within this system are primed to pool resources together to withstand shocks and unfortunate circumstances.”
Listing the objectives of regional integration, Dr. Fayemi said it would build a new momentum for engaging and mobilising our people, respective states and inherent capacities; build a consensus on major issues of communal concern; facilitate a genuine process of political and economic cooperation for the much needed rapid growth and development of states in the Southwest.
He further explained the goals of the economic integration to include; promotion of the notion of good governance through which the goods and dividends of representative democracy can be accessed by the people of the Southwest; develop a common set of practices and development strategies that will enhance an even and equitable level of development across the states of the Southwest, which would ultimately benefit the people of the region; create a platform for the sharing of resources and expertise across the region for the common purpose of development; attain the objectives of governance, in terms of human capital development, the delivery of healthcare services, etc; and the forging of regional alliances makes this more feasible in terms of its achievement; maximise the potentials for job creation and the expansion of opportunities and harness the fairly homogenous and unique history of the region in order to create value.
With Fayemi at the helm of affairs in Ekiti, the brotherhood of cooperation amongst the southwestern states will further be invigorated and boosted. Welcome JKF, it’s just 25 days to go.