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S’ West govs renew calls for creation of state police, elect Sanwo-Olu as forum’s chair

 

By Seyi Odewale

Governors from the South-West geo-political zone of the country, yesterday agreed on the creation of state police and the need to forge security cooperation to enhance economic development and free movement within the region.

Arising from the meeting of the Soth-West Governors’ Forum yesterday in Lagos, they called for more collaboration between security agencies and Western Nigeria Security Network, known as Amotekun Corps.

They also commended the House of Representatives and members of the Southwest caucus in the National Assembly for their efforts at passing the South-West Development Commission Bill and urged the upper chamber of the National Assembly to speed up the bill’s passage.

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The Forum’s meeting, which was hosted by the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had as its agenda regional economic integration, food production, and regional security. It also used the opportunity to unanimously elect the Lagos governor to lead the Forum as its chairman.

The position was made vacant last year with the death of the former governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who until his death was the chair of the regional forum.
Sanwo-Olu was unanimously elected at the meeting held behind closed doors in Alausa.
A statement by the Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Media and Publicity, Gbenga Akosile, yesterday, said the Forum reviewed security across the region, pointing out that South-West had been relatively peaceful in the Southern part of the country. They, however, used the platform to renew their call for the creation of state Police to further strengthen safety in the region.
According to the governor, to expand food production and agricultural development, they agreed to direct their respective Commissioners for Agriculture to immediately come together and develop a comprehensive agricultural template that would leverage each state’s comparative advantage.

At the end of the meeting, the Forum, through its chairman, Governor Sanwo-Olu, read the 11-point resolution adopted in the communique signed by all the six governors.

“The Southwest Governors’ Forum, at its meeting today, June 10, 2024, deliberated extensively on contemporary issues in the South-West States and resolved to commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR on the groundbreaking of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road, and the proposed Lagos to Sokoto road. We, however, encourage the Federal Government to rehabilitate other federal infrastructure in the region.

“On security, the Forum commends the relative peace in the South-West region and notes the collaboration between all security agencies and the Amotekun Corps. We reaffirm our full support for State Police. We acknowledge the efforts of the Federal Government to strengthen food security. We decide that Commissioners for Agriculture of all the South-West states should begin to meet and set up a working template, which will ensure collaboration based on each State’s comparative advantage,” Sanwo-Olu said.

On the lingering disagreement on Minimum Wage, the Forum said it was in support of the efforts of the Federal Government, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Organised Private Sector to resolve the wage dispute and urged continued engagement with the Labour Union, adding that they believed the outcome of the negotiations for better wages would reflect true fiscal federalism.

The Forum hailed the Federal Government’s efforts on exploration policies on mineral resources but called for collaboration with states in the process of granting leases to investors.

The South-West Governors adopted a popular song composed by Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, titled: “Ise wa fun ile wa”, as a common anthem across the six states, condemning in strong terms, nefarious activities of a group of people agitating for the Yoruba nation, stating that the region remained an integral part of the country.

“The Forum agrees to strengthen the DAWN Commission on operational efficiency and charges the Commission to focus on economic integration, cooperation, and investment promotion of South-West states. To that end, each state is mandated to appoint a State focal person,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Paying their respect to the memory of the late Akeredolu, who passed away last December, Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Lucky Aiyedatiwa (Ondo), Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti) and Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) were all present at the meeting, which lasted four hours.

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