Aregbesola Recommends Modalities For South-West Regional Integration
The governor of the state of Osun, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola has stated that the regional integration of the South-West states for sustainable development could not be an herculean task, as the people of the region have a lot of things in common, especially, in the area of education, agriculture, transportation, health and job creation, among others.
He stated this in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital on Wednesday during the last leg of the three-day Legislative Summit on Regional Integration for the South West, organized by Vintage Press, the Publishers of The Nation Newspapers, saying that a viable collaborative mechanism for accelerated development in the region is achievable.
According to him, with various and similar challenges facing all the states of the federation, if the integration agenda is well-implemented, it would form a template of development for other geo-political zones of the country.
The governor urged that for immediate integration, the region should look into how to maximize its potentials in art, tourism, transportation, agriculture, education and sports, for the economic development of the region and its people.
On economy, the governor recalled that the South West region, under the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was not developed with federal allocations, which, according to him, has now produced monsters in the economy of the country, rather, it was the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) that was used to develop the region, noting that the integration would enhance the economic development of the region.
On agriculture, Aregbesola noted that the integration would encourage the states in the region to further transform their farmers from subsistence, to large scale commercial farmers with modern implement, improved seedlings and modern farming techniques, with a view to guaranteeing food security in the region.
He said; “The origin of our wealth is agriculture and we must return to it. There is no nation in history that went through development that did not begin with the development of agriculture. We must start that with the notion that farming is a big business with the farmers having their eyes on profit.
“Transportation is crucial to agriculture, movement of goods, personnel and general social interaction. Transportation is necessary for integration. The whole of the region should be linked together, seamlessly by road, rail, air and a common hub should be in Lagos in order to facilitate movement of goods and persons.
“It is a common knowledge that the federal roads are bad and we must seek to take over the maintenance of federal roads in the South West.
“Also, for mass movement, rail takes precedence over other modes. The current attempt to develop effective rail transportation within Yorubaland should therefore be encouraged. We have to begin the process of extending rail lines to Ekiti, Ondo and Edo States and all the major cities in the region. With good transportation system, the other western states can attract a large chunk of the industries in Lagos, save it from overcrowding and in the process, kick-start their own industrialization,” the governor noted.
On education, Aregbesola noted that due to the present disgraceful state of education in the region, there is the need to declare emergency in the sector, with a view to restoring effective and qualitative basic education.
To go further, the region, he said, must also look at vocational technical education as a route to job creation in place of the current system, where graduates with certificates are roaming the streets searching for jobs that are not existing.
The governor also recommended that a review of the structure of university ownership in the region should be carried out, saying that it would have been cost effective if the entire South-West region has one Great Western University operating a collegiate system, with each state having a college and each college graduating at least four thousand students every year.
With the collegiate arrangement, Aregbesola said, it would become impossible for a new administration to reverse what is on ground, since such government would have only one specialised college to relate with.
He called on the states in the region, to adopt a concept of JETA, which is the acronym of Jobs Creation, Education, Transportation and Agriculture, for the growth and development of the region.
Pointing out the roles of the legislators from the states in the region, the governor said that there was need for lawmakers in the National and State Assemblies, to go beyond their primary roles of law making and sell the idea of regional integration as espoused by their constituencies.
He urged them to ensure that the calls for regional integration emanate from the grassroots to the state and national levels, rather than from the top to the bottom.
Aregbesola then advised; “as legislators, you are placed in critical position of policy making that will make integration in our region a reality.
But beyond lawmaking, you must be able to sell the idea in your constituencies from where the call for integration should resonate in a bottom-up fashion and not the top-down status, it will assume, if you are to ram it down their throats”.
In their separate speeches, Senator Femi Lanleyin and High Chief OmowaleKuye expressed confidence that the South-West region now has serious governors that are passionate, dedicated and qualified to pursue the vision of regional integration to the greatest advantage of the people of the region.
Professor Adesegun Banjo suggested the establishment of university of native medicine, through which traditional doctor and medicines that the region is blessed with could be explored for the benefit of the people of the region.
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