The Director General (DG) of the Southeast Governors’ Forum, Prof. Simon Ortuanya, on Monday 11th September disclosed that the southeast region is already replicating the idea of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission.
Ortuanya disclosed this to reporters after a two-day working visit to the Cocoa House, Ibadan headquarters of the DAWN commission.
According to him, his forum’s secretariat and DAWN Commission share some things in common given their mandate for regional cohesion and integration. Ortuanya pointed out that DAWN Commission was already a success in the field, having established its footprints in several areas of cooperation among the six states in Western Nigeria.
His words: “We are barely one month old whereas DAWN Commission is four years old. We felt we should have this interaction with DAWN with a view to leveraging on its experience. Going forward, this will help us. What drives the society now is economic empowerment. If we have empowerment in Southeast, it will also help Nigeria’s development.
“DAWN developed strategic master plan for the development of Southwest. We also need to go this way in sustaining our values of hard work, innovation, honesty, respect and cooperation, among others. If the regions are able to sustain themselves, then they will rely less on the centre.
“We have seen the DAWN’s strategic document tagged ‘One Bloc.’ This will form the policy guidelines for the Southeast Governors’ Forum. We have also seen the type of young professionals driving this vision. We have learnt from all these and more through this visit.
“We thank the DAWN Commission for opening its doors to us. We strongly believe that the future of Nigeria depends on cooperation.”
DAWN Commission’s Acting Director General, Mr Seye Oyeleye, described the visit as a good step in the right direction. He expressed excitement at seeing other parts of Nigeria embracing regional integration, saying it is the way to go for overall national development.
He said: “It is good that other regions are coming to embrace this approach to development. We need to de-emphasize statism and encourage regionalization for the obvious advantages therein. The visit was refreshing. They have discovered that there is no magic to what we are doing to fast-track growth and development. I am glad they have a lot of opportunities in Southeast. The moment they make their own commission work, development will move fast.”
Oyeleye insisted that the fading relevance of oil, which is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, further makes it imperative for each region in the country to look inward and cooperate on the various ways of maximizing available resources for development. He described state boundaries as artificial, saying Nigerians have many things in common.
The Acting DG said the visit also confirmed that Nigerians now better understand the concept of the DAWN Commission. He recalled that some people had thought that the commission was established to champion secession of Southwest from Nigeria.
“Our doors are open. This should be a starting point in working with the Southeast region. Our cultures are similar. We have no reason not to work together. I am excited at this and we have assured them of support in any way possible,” he added.