Mimiko and South West Economic IntegrationArticles/Opinion, Latest News Monday, March 31st, 2014
South West is strategic to Nigeria economic being the host Nigeria economic capital-Lagos which is also former capital city of the Nigeria. South West comprises; Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states. The history of south west integration dated back the pre-independence era when the country was operating region government, the regional governments are Northern, Western, Eastern and the Middle Belt
Western region under the administration of late Obafemi Awolowo set the pace other part of the country with introduction of free education for all, free health care, establishment of first Western Television Station (WTS) that transformed to NTA, building of Cocoa House in Ibadan and established Odua Group of Companies now conglomerate owing substantial investment in Real Estate, Telecommunication, WEMA Bank, Hotel and Catering and publishing.
However, the creation of states by Military regime serves as setback for existing economic/political integration in the region.
The quest to establish political and economic integration prompted the five All Progressive Congress governors in the region to initiate the move to integrate the region. They are already working out modality for integration of the region; however indifference attitude of Ondo State, Governor Olusegun Mimiko and only Labour Party governor throughout the federation is bane to south west regionalization.
Political observers with the region opine that Mimiko is frustrating the Economic Integration of South West to have his own pound of flesh for role played by APC governors to stop his second term ambition. It would be recalled the Mimiko defeated Rotimi Akeredolu of defunct ACN and Wole Oke, the flag bearer of PDP in October 2012 governorship election in sunshine state.
Governor Mimiko who doubled as Vice Chairman of Jonah Jang Faction of Nigerian Governors Forum on several occasions stated that he is committed south west economic integration but frown at the insistence of APC Leader and former governor of Lagos State that Mimiko should join APC to makes regionalization dream come true.
Professor Jide Osuntokun recently highlighted the importance of Ondo State to south west integration by saying; “There is no doubt that road to the regional economic integration destination would be bumpier and therefore more strenuous if any of the component part of the South-west region is not on board the integration boat, most particularly Ondo State because of its unique place in this integration matrix. Ondo is relatively more strategically positioned because of its contiguity to all the South-west except Oyo. It shares boundaries with Edo and Kogi states to the east and north respectively.
“Its coastline is almost a stone throw to Lagos, the economic nerve centre of the nation, a coastline that also extends to the South-south geo-political region. More importantly, the state is the second richest after Lagos in the South-west. Its financial wherewithal can be brought to bear and effectively utilized in bankrolling some projects that are very critical to the economic integration agenda, which much of necessity, be situated in the state for the overall benefit of the South-west region and its people.”
Political observers in the region doubt the readiness of Mimiko to support the South-west economic integration as he was absent did not send representative to the inauguration of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN Commission) last year.
DAWN according to its Director-General, Dipo Famakinwa said the regional arrangement will turn south-west to a hub for development in terms of being the first area of call for foreign investors visiting Nigeria. He said the commission will design framework for region economic integration and express readiness of DAWN commission to work with all state governors irrespective of their political affiliations.
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