The people of Southwestern Nigeria must leverage on the opportunity presented by the Regional Integration Agenda to come together and work for the enhancement of the region as a way of utilizing collaborative governance for rebranding and redefining the place as center of innovation, haven of improved livelihood as well as region where peace reigns.
Ondo State Head of Service, John Adediran Adeyemo stated this in his keynote address at the Stakeholders Forum On Southwest Regional Integration For Youth Organisations across Northern Senatorial District of Ondo State held at the Conference Hall of Modas Resort and Hotels, Owo on Tuesday.
Adeyemo who commended Ondo State Governors Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for his commitment towards advancing regional integration in the southwest and maximizing its potentials for accelerated and sustained development said Southwest Regional Integration was a laudable initiative of Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Lagos and Ogun States to put the region on the part of socioeconomic progress, safety, political and economic development.
He added that regional approach remained the only viable alternative to help the Southwest put together creativity and resilience in tackling youth unemployment, pandemic, robbery, food insecurity, kidnapping and others currently facing the region.
He however appreciated the Development Agenda For Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission for the key role it played in the establishment of Western Nigeria Security Network, AMOTEKUN and for partnering with the Ministry of Regional Integration And Special Duties, Akure for putting up the forum.
In his own address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Regional Integration and Special Duties, Mr Ogunmola Tubosun, who disclosed that the Ministry was crested by the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led Administration in 2017 to coordinate all activities relating to regional integration, told the participants to see the programme as one of the leadership training as leaders of tomorrow.
Meanwhile, speakers at the forum have called on youths to brace up for the remaking of southwest as they hold a pivotal role in making regain its leadership position .
In his paper, Nigeria: From Precolonial To Western Region, the Head of Internal Homeland Affairs, Mr Olawole Oladeji said regionalism was the key factor responsible for the success of the Western Region between 1960 and 1966.
Oladeji however said it was sad that the tempo of development in the First Republic was not sustained dur to the balkanisation of Nigeria into smaller, weaker and unviable units.
In his paper, titled, From Balkanisation To Regional Integration: Southwest Regional Integration, Head of Programmes, DAWN Commission, Mr Abiodun Oladipo, said there was urgent need to reform the social and ethical orientation, recover the regions fading identify and Yoruba language into a robust piece of social technology.
Oladipo who emphasised the role of the youths in the development agenda said they went the engine room of growth and development.