• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Southern states to establish agency for agric, security, natural resources coordination

17 Southern states to establish agency for agric, security, natural resources coordination

As part of efforts meant to better coordinate governance, security, and economy, among other official activities of the entire Southern States of the Country, the 17 governors from Southern Nigeria have resolved to establish a Southern States Development Agenda (SSDA).

The creation of the Southern States Agenda was arrived at the meeting of the Southern Governors’ Forum held in Abeokuta, Ogun State Capital on Monday to present a common front on issues of national importance such as security, agriculture, natural resources, infrastructure, transportation, among others.

Speaking during the meeting of the Southern Governors’ Forum, the newly-elected Chairman of the Forum, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State said, “Again, we all appreciate the fact there can be no socio-economic development in an atmosphere of insecurity.

“As discussed in past meetings, we need to ensure the operationalization of our regional security outfits, for those that have not, and for those that have, we must strengthen their capabilities and encourage inter-regional collaboration. They should hold meetings regularly and share intelligence. We must continue to push the conversation for the establishment of State police.

“I hope we have all submitted our position paper to NEC on state police. Our zone must be adjudged as the most peaceful to attract deserving foreign direct and indigenous investments.

“Provision of Infrastructure is a key enabler to economic development and in this instance, the lack of Power / Electricity supply has stunted our region’s industrial growth. According to the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors, it was estimated that we require 1000MW per 1 million population.

“The South will need 90,000 MW for our estimated 90 million people. We must take advantage of the recent constitutional amendments that allow states to regulate, generate, transmit, and distribute electricity while leveraging renewable and other available sources of power supply in our region.

Read also: Alarming food crises: Now is the time to adopt full digital agriculture

“I commend the States that have commenced implementation of their electricity law and those in the process are encouraged to fast-track. We must tackle NERC on the suspension of handing over the regulatory market to states. I also believe that we must push for the construction of an East-West transmission infrastructure network to provide the required redundancy given the incessant grid collapse. We must also push for the re-constitution of the NDPHC board.

“We must commend and appreciate our President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR for not just conceiving but commencing the construction of the laudable coastal road project. This is no doubt a step in the right direction and will positively impact and enhance the economy of the beneficiary states directly and others by extension, it will increase productivity by drastically reducing travel time boosting tourism and creating employment.

“To underscore our commitment to prioritizing the transportation Infrastructure in the region, we must seriously consider commissioning the design of a regional multimodal transport master plan, that will identify the need for regional rail, water, and air transportation connection.

“We must also encourage the federal government to rehabilitate/repair, and reconstruct Trunk A roads, and transfer these roads to sub-nationals that expressed interest in taking over them.

“We must all embark on our aggressive energy transition plan from PMS (petrol) to CNG and ultimately electric vehicles (EV) to reduce the cost of transportation of food, goods, services, and our people. Total deregulation is unavoidable and imminent, but this must be a condition precedent.

“We are an agrarian region with almost 8 million hectares of land that are fertile for both food and cash crops (cocoa, oil palm, cashew, cotton, etc.)

“Today, we are reliant on tomatoes, onions, rice, and cattle from Northern Nigeria. It is estimated that about 1 billion naira worth of tomatoes and peppers come from the North to Lagos daily (approx. 30 Billion naira monthly) and tens of thousands of cattle per day. In recent times, supply shocks from the North have caused serious food shortages and price hikes in the South.

“We need to embark on an aggressive and intensive Agriculture and food security plan with each state growing what is best suited for them based on their competitive and comparative advantages.

“We must each also consider establishing agro-processing zones to extract the most value from the Agro value chain which will provide the much-needed job opportunities for our people. We must be deliberate about promoting inter-zonal trade amongst member states to strengthen the region’s economy. Our mills have no business relying on inputs from outside the region.

“The diversity of our mineral resources across the region ranges from oil & gas to limestone, lithium, gold, lead, zinc, silica, coal, laterite, and many others. These minerals are exploited criminally without recourse to the host states.

“This exploitation has caused attendant negative environmental impact and degradation with no remediation commitments. We must push our legislators at both the state and national levels to remove the mining of solid minerals from the exclusive list in the constitution to the concurrent list or at the very least, agree on a revised basis of non-oil resource derivation.

“Your Excellencies, addressing these challenges requires a coordinated and collaborative approach. We are all very busy managing different crises daily.

“To this end, I am proposing that we set up a Southern States Development Agenda (SSDA).

“They will work with individual states’ Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agencies, the Nigerian Investment and Promotion Commission (NIPC), and others.

“This is similar to WESGRO, a tourism trade and investment promotion platform for Cape Town and Western Cape which has so far facilitated renewable energy exploration and tourism (airlines, cruise ships etc.) amongst others in Cape Town and Western Cape. The US Ambassador welcomes this initiative if acceptable and has promised partnership and support.”