Regional integration, solution to economic challenges- S/West Govs, Is this just another....

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The South West  Governors' Forum has expressed optimism that the problems of hunger, insecurity and poverty in the country could be curtailed through the exploitation of the resources that abound in the region.

The six Governors made this known  at a 2-day summit,  themed: "Consolidating the Legacy of Regional Integration" held in Lagos.

The meeting which was a follow-up to the one held last year in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, was  attended by the governors of Ondo, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Ogun, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who was represented by his Deputy Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Onanuga; Oyo, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and his  Lagos State counterpart, Akinwumi Ambode, the host, whose state was newly admitted into the ODUA group.

Others are; Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; his Ekiti State counterpart, Mr Ayodele Fayose, with the Management Team of ODUA Investment Group, DAWN Commission and Vocal Officers of the Integration Agenda of the South West Nigeria from the six states.

The governors, who bore their minds at the summit, believed there was no better time to come together than now to leverage on their capacities to address their challenges.

Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, (SAN), while speaking, expressed the belief that the coming together of the six states would engender rapid development of the region.

Akeredolu appreciated the DAWN Commission on the Integration Agenda of the Region, ODUA Group of companies for holding on to the investment heritage of the region and hoped for a profitable turnover on the investments consequent upon the coming on board of Lagos State.

"There is this spirit that is now  evolving in spite of political differences, we find it necessary to be together to discuss our region  and I think this is what we must thank God for", he said.

"I want to thank DAWN for helping all this while, I thank ODUA Group that has kept us together and now we are having a big brother joining ODUA.

"It is a landmark event with Lagos State now becoming part of ODUA Group. I must thank Governor Ambode for the decision. He must have felt that there was nothing too big to give to be part of ODUA", he said.

Reeling out the agrarian potentials  that abound in the state, Arakunrin Akeredolu mentioned them to include; large land mass for cultivable crops,  economic trees like Cocoa, Rubber and Timber.

On a productive utilization of Cocoa House so that it will not continue to be a wasting asset, the Ondo State Governor suggested the establishment of a Western Nigeria University, using the building.

According to the governor, the 25-storey building is enough to accommodate the University Senate, lecture halls and every other thing, adding that it will be a university of pride to all of us in the region.

Welcoming his colleagues to the meeting, Governor Akinwumi Ambode, appreciated the resolve of the other states to admit Lagos State into the ODUA group, describing the gesture as a significant mileage in the region's  quest for economic integration of the Western Nigeria.

He stated that working with all other members, Lagos State will be able to help in catalyzing a momentous growth in the economic activities of Western Nigeria through, but not limited to, the instrumentality of Odua Investment Group.

"Towards this end, we decided then to hold a Western Nigeria Agricultural Summit to be held in Ibadan soon.

"The whole essence of food security of Western Nigeria is thus focused on our States maximizing their comparative advantages to guarantee increased food, jobs creation and the welfare of our people", he said.

Governor Ambode appreciated his colleagues in the region for their positive responses at making functional to optimally level, the newly established 32 Ton per hour Rice Mill.

He said the Mill, which is the largest of its kind in Nigeria for now, is capable of generating over 200,000 jobs across Western Nigeria and producing most of the rice needed  by the region and beyond.

The Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Hon Ifedayo Abegunde and the Honourable Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties who is the State Focal Officer, Professor Bayonile Ademodi were part of the governors team to the meeting.

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