Crocodile Smile 2: Army Arrest 399 Suspects in Lagos, Ogun

The Nigerian Army on Saturday revealed at the closing ceremony of the Crocodile Smile 2 at 192 Battalion, Ajilete, Ogun State, that no fewer than 399 suspects were arrested for various offences during the Exercise Crocodile Smile 2 in Lagos and Ogun States. About 1000 officers were involved in the operation.

The 35 Artillery Brigade Commander, Brig.-Gen. Bassey Adonkie, who explained that the operation was aimed at flushing out pipeline vandals, kidnappers and miscreants said “The exercise led to the arrest of suspects including armed robbers, kidnappers and recovery of ammunition.

“So far, a total of 399 suspects were arrested for different offences across as the South-West region and handed over to various security agencies concerned.

“In addition, 20 assorted arms were recovered, while illicit drugs were also recovered and handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)”.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. David Ahmadu, said
“Experience drawn from the exercise conducted in 2016 revealed that criminals and miscreants do fled from areas of ongoing operations to seek safe haven and cause security menace in areas hitherto regarded as peaceful.

“It was in line with this development, that I deemed it necessary to extend the areas of coverage for this year’s exercise crocodile smile, to cover the South-West and South-South regions of the country.

“The army places premium on training and thus Exercise Crocodile Smile is one of the training activities embarked on to sharpen the skills of personnel in the conduct of operation”.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Maj.-Gen. Peter Dauke, in his opening remark, said that the exercise was flagged off by the chief of army staff on Oct.7.

“The exercise was designed to develop and enhance professionalism among units, foster relationship and synergy among participating services, security agencies.

“It was also designed to improve the overall planning and conduct of internal security operations in combating prevalent security challenges.

“It is gladdening to note that the exercise was able to mitigate prevalent security challenges such as reduction in pipeline vanderlism, militancy, ritual killings, smuggling, kidnapping and drug related offences amongst others’.

17 Southern Governors To Meet Tomorrow

Twelve years after a similar gathering was held under the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration, 17 governors from the South West, South East and South South are to meet in Lagos on Monday to discuss latest national issues and forge stronger relations.

A statement by the Secretary to the Lagos State Government (SSG), Mr Tunji Bello, said the meeting would be co-hosted by the Governors of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode and Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Udom.

Bello said the Governors would also be expected to adopt a common position on the issues of armed robbery, kidnapping, devolution of powers and issue of fiscal federalism which have all gained prominence of late.

“The 2017 Lagos summit of the 17 Southern Governors representing the South South, South West and South East zones is expected to come up with a communiqué after the deliberation. It is noteworthy to recall that the inaugural meeting of the Southern Governors took place in Lagos in 2001 under the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

The statement added that the predominance of views is that if the Southern States speak with one voice, they are bound to attract weighty and credible listenership.

Governors from the South East and South-South Zones have been meeting intermittently. The latest was on October 9 in Owerri where they rejected calls for the breakup of the country while rallying support for its continued existence as an indivisible entity.

It said that the bond between the South-East and South-South zones was much more than political party considerations.

Southwest PDP Forges A United Front To Get National Chair

The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have given tacit endorsement for the Southwest zone to produce the National Chairman of the party in the forthcoming National Convention but apart from the large number of aspirants some pockets of opposition are growing in the South-South prompting the Southwest leaders to commence forging a united front to clinch the seat.

With the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) already zoned to the southern part of Nigeria and a “gentleman’s agreement” to have it narrowed down to the Southwest, the leadership of the party in the zone has taken up the challenge of putting the best man forward and strengthen the platform in the process.

Despite this agreement, however, two aspirants from the South-South, former Deputy National Chairman, Uche Secondus and media mogul, Raymond Dokpesi, have announced their intention to contest for the position.

But the Southeast zone, having produced the occupant of the position twice in the persons of Vincent Eze Ogbulafor from Abia and Okwesilieze Nwodo from Enugu, appears not to be too keen to contest for the post.

Two weeks ago, the Southwest zonal leadership of the party met in Ibadan where they called on leaders from other zones where opposition to the Southwest quest has emerged, to allow the zone have a smooth sail in the December 9 National Convention.

The party leaders hinged their appeal on the fact that since the formation of the party in 1998, the Southwest has not had the opportunity of occupying the position of chairman. They also said that the region was desirous of the office to help in their membership drive and wrest power from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), the dominant party in the zone.

Southwest PDP zonal chairman, Dr. Eddy Olafeso who read the communiqué at the end of the parley said, “Since inception in 1998 till date, our party had twelve national chairmen and we are the only one, out of the six geo-political zones in the country, that has not held the position despite our historic contributions to the development of the party.”

While, the Southwest may have a good point on the ground that it remains the only zone in the country yet to savour the position of the PDP national chairman since, in 1998, the South-South is no pushover in the contest going by its present strength in the PDP compared to what the former has to offer on the delegates list.

But as it is, of all the zones in the South, the Southwest has an ace in the area of voting strength when it comes to national elections and this strength was displayed in 2015 to end the 16-year rule of the PDP.

Apart from the challenges of the aspirants from the South-South, the Southwest will have to unite and agree on the best and credible candidate to present if it hopes to get the position, a flaw that the leadership is already aware of.

Another challenge to the Southwest ambition is getting the support of the northern elements in the party. As has been observed, whichever candidate from either the South-South or the Southwest that got the backing of the north may likely win the election. For now, the north seems to be confused on whom to support among the aspirants that have so far shown interest in the Southwest.

And as consultations across political groups within the PDP and individual politicians are on-going, scores of aspirants have emerged from the zone including a former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George, former Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Lagos State governorship candidate of the party in the last election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.

Others are former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode and Professor Taoheed Adedoja. But the Southwest PDP, like the national leadership and in keeping with the party’s zoning culture, will have to observe internal zoning to avoid lopsidedness of party positions.

And if this is to be followed, as some prominent leaders of the party revealed to The Guardian, the position may have been zeroed to Ondo/Ogun axis of the zone because presently, Olafeso, the zonal chairman is from Ondo/Ekiti axis while Oyo/Osun axis had once occupied the position for a long time.

If these factors are taken into consideration, the race would be between the trio of George, Daniel and Agbaje who are from the Lagos/Ogun axis of the zone.

George, who appears to be the most popular and experienced in party politics, having held the topmost party positions in the zone and the entire south at various times, said during his official declaration penultimate week that he would deploy his bulk of experience and wisdom to rescue and reposition the party to regain power in 2019.

The former military governor of Ondo State also assured party loyalists that he would work tirelessly to revive the dream and principles of the founding fathers, which he said, were anchored on justice, fairness and equity, as enshrined in its constitution.

He harped on bringing back the dignity of PDP by working diligently to unite its members while mending fences and healing old wounds for all to attain the collective aspiration of the once-ruling party.

According to him, “My leadership will strive to revive the economy of Nigeria, which had been battered, working with well-meaning members of the party to get the presidential power in 2019.”

He declared that his first task if elected, “would be to reconcile feuding factions at all levels and also accord them the recognition they all deserve, while also protecting their interests.”

George also identified as a key factor, the party’s rejection of the founding father’s principle of justice, fairness and equity in the reasons why it failed during the 2015 election, saying, “I will never compromise our foundational principles of justice, fairness and equity, as enshrined in the constitution of our party.”

According to him, “If elected, I am willing and ready to work with everyone, regardless of personal differences, to mend the broken places, heal the ancient wounds, reconcile the feuding factions and ultimately ensure that we strengthen our collective brotherhood and speak with one voice to regain victory in 2019.

“We will equally accord all our governors and legislators at both state and national levels, the necessary pride of place and honour in this new dawn. We will protect their interests and help to enhance their effectiveness.”

However, in spite the fact that many notable leaders of the Southwest PDP rose in support of George during his declaration in Lagos, Daniel’s ambition for the same post is posing a big threat to his interest.

The former Ogun State government has been receiving the support of many PDP stakeholders in the North and the South-South including the likes former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida and the former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau. He has also requested the support of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who many belief has left the party but whom George said: “has enough influence to determine which way the PDP would go.”

The former Ogun governor has also sought the support of other big notable chieftains of the party like General T.Y Danjuma, Sule Lamido and Bamanga Tukur.

Daniel also remains a force to be reckoned with in the region for the fact of being a former governor whose former colleagues and those serving may likely have sympathy for instead of George, who some claimed is too old and may be too rigid to control.

The main strength of Daniel appeared to be from outside the zone while many of those who opposed his emergence pointed to the fact that he had at one point left the PDP, a point that could not be raised against George who had been a PDP chieftain all through.

What Daniel, who flagged off his campaign in Abuja yesterday, is banking on according to some sources, is the Babangida factor, as the former military ruler is believed to have the capacity to mobilize or influence delegates from the northern zone to support him.

Addressing a crowd of supporters yesterday, Daniel said, “I think I am most eminently qualified to correct some of our mistakes of the near and remote past has served as a Chief Executive officer of one of the most complex States in Nigeria, Ogun.

“Having supervised and won elections twice under the platform of the PDP, I have conducted and managed not only national elections but also local government elections with all their attendant complexities.

“I have built a network of personal relationships across the length and breadth of Nigeria, both in my private capacity as a businessman and public life as a governor and politician; these networks are expected to come handy in the process of healing wounds and building bonds and synergies necessary in rebuilding the political party.”

But the candidature of Agbaje has always been linked to the influence of the duo of governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti who are said to be the powers behind his chairmanship ambition even though he is not as visible as the others.

It was alleged recently that the two governors sponsored Agbaje’s trip out of the country recently to shield him from influences that may jeopardize his ambition before the December convention. The purpose, according to sources was to prepare the former governorship candidate to take up the chairmanship when the time comes.

But there had been several questions about the appropriateness of Agbaje to aspire for the chairmanship because of the claim by a faction within the party that he was not qualified to lead the PDP being a new entrant.

But when called to clarify the allegation whether it was true some governors are backing him, Agbaje said, “There was nothing like that. No governor asked me to go and hide outside the country. It was true I travelled but on my own volition and I am back to Nigeria.” He, however, declined to comment on his ambition to run for the national chairmanship of the party.

Worried by the number of aspirants and the possible intrigues that could cause the Southwest zone the opportunity to get the position, leaders of the party have commenced the process of narrowing down their interests and produce a single aspirant to brighten their chances.

At a meeting in Lagos convened by Fayose and attended by George, Chiefs Dapo Sarumi and Rashidi Ladoja, former Oyo State governor who recently rejoined the party and many others including Tajudeen Oladipo, former Southwest Zonal Vice-Chairman, the leaders agreed to forge a common front for the zone.

Although Daniel was absent at the parley, Fayose confirmed he would be at the next meeting of the forum, which is expected to have more leaders from across the six states of the zone.

While speaking at the meeting Fayose said, “Our aim is to take a position ahead of the convention. We don’t want to attend the convention with a divided house. Our aim is to go to the convention and come back with joy, not to be disappointed. We have to talk extensively and ensure everyone is happy with the meeting. We have decided that the meeting must be inclusive and all stakeholders must be present in the meetings.

“The meeting was endorsed by our leaders here and we all believe that it must not end here. All our stakeholders must be present at the next meeting and if there is anybody that refused to attend, we might conclude that person has a different agenda.”

Ladoja who disclosed that he is now a full member of the PDP announced that he would soon declare his ambition to contest the chairmanship position, a decision that may have put more pressure on the process of managing the aspirants.

He said, “Before the end of the month, I will declare my ambition. At this moment, I am still consulting. I have left Accord Party and I am now a full member of PDP. I have obtained my membership card.”

Speaking in the same vein with Fayose, Oladipo said the meeting was called at the instance of the only PDP governor in the zone whom he described as the rallying point for the leaders and members of the party.

He said, “PDP in the Southwest has only one leader and he is Fayose. He is the rallying point in the zone and he is the one taking our position to the party at the national level ahead of the forthcoming convention. The meeting is being held for all of us to take a position before the convention and all other stakeholders in the zone will join the meeting subsequently.

“We have endorsed the calling of this meeting so that we can take a joint position before the convention. It is our privilege that we have him as our governor. And other stakeholders will be joining us which would be not long.”

An elated George, who saw the meeting as the only means to streamline the aspirations of the party and reduce intra-party tension, said, “This meeting will show the people that we are prepared and this is a solid ship and not any rudderless meeting.”

 

 

 

Source: The Guardian

We’ll Foil Boko Haram Attacks In Southwest – Police

Following the arrest of a Boko Haram suspect in Ondo, units of the Nigerian police force in the South West region have revealed their readiness to protect the region from Boko Haram attacks.

Ogun State Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi has affirmed that the Nigerian police would not allow Boko Haram members or other criminals to hold the state to ransom. According to Punch, he said “For us in Ogun, we are always prepared. Our intelligence unit is working round the clock and other operatives are on guard too. There is no hiding place for criminals in Ogun State. We are daily combing every nook and cranny of the state to nip any manner of crime in the bud. We will get any criminal, no matter in what form he comes,” Oyeyemi said.

The Ondo State goverment has also expressed similar resolution as according to the Commissioner for Information, Yemi Olowolabi, “We have adequate security in place to curtail crime in the state and that is what has led to the arrest of the Boko Haram suspect. We are working with all the security agencies in the state. We won’t take anything for granted. We’ll always ensure the security of lives and property of our people; so no Boko Haram activity can succeed here.”

Biafra: Sit-At-Home Order Grounds South East

In Enugu, human, vehicular and economic activities were at a standstill with many residents remaining indoors. The massive compliance with the sit-at-home directive shows the increasing popularity of the quest for Biafra that began 50 years ago. What is needed to stop the agitation is not force that would lead to the loss of more lives and property but the tackling of the injustice and inequality that gave birth to it.

The sit-at-home directive issued by agitators in honour of their colleagues killed in the struggle for the realisation of Biafra Republic recorded a huge success in the South East and parts of South-South regions yesterday.

Apart from banks and government offices that opened for business, several other institutions including schools, markets, and shops were closed. Workers of the various ministries were seen in their offices offering skeletal services while public schools sent their students and teachers back home.

At higher institutions of learning, including the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus; Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT); and the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), although some academic staff were sighted on duty, lectures were not held yesterday as the students did not turn up for classes.

The entrances to major markets in the state, including the Main Market, New Market, and Kenyetta Market were opened but all the shops in them were under lock and key.

Several vans loaded with armed policemen were sighted around the entrances of the markets. The police helicopters conducted aerial surveillance throughout the state yesterday. On ground was a security convoy made up of soldiers, members of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), officers of Department of State Services (DSS) and the Navy.

The popular Shoprite Centre, Roban Stores and some popular eateries in the state were closed.

Major roads, including Agbani, Zik Avenue, New Haven, Ogui, Bissalla, Coal camp and Edinburgh were deserted as just a few private and commercial cars plied them. Some youths turned some of the deserted roads into football fields. Other residents used the opportunity to engage in sporting activities at the Michael Okpara Square.

A resident, Daniel Dike, described the action as the “most successful in Enugu State so far.” “I have lived in this state for a long time; I have never witnessed this level of compliance by residents. Enugu had always shown indifference to the cause of Biafra, but this one is outstanding and I am happy about it.”

 

#SWSalary Is TRENDING: Twitter Users Blames Mimiko For Massive Pillaging Of Ondo Resources

Users discussing the status of payment of salary in the South West have lambasted former governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Mimiko, with some calling for his arrest over the reckless manner in which he allegedly managed the state resources.

Former Governor Mimiko of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had on Friday, 24th February handed over to the newly elected governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, owing at least, eight (8) months salaries.

Though, the newly sworn-in governor had on Friday March 10th, 2017 ordered the payment of one month salary arrears to the suffering workers who endured 8 months of hardship under the former governor.

OsunDefender learnt that a human rights advocacy group, Human and Environment Development Agenda, HEDA had yesterday through its weekly twitter chat which hold son Mondays with the hashtag #MondayTango, started conversations around the status of salary payments in the South West. The group in a special report published on it website, revealed how Ondo State under Olusegun Mimiko amongst other states, earned billions of naira from the federal government in monthly allocations and bailout funds, but refused to pay workers their salaries and allowances.

You can read the full report here.

As at 12noon today when OsunDefender found the #SWSalary trend, the hashtag was trending at number 7 across Nigeria.

See image below:

A twitter user, with the name Nike, argued that former governor Olusegun Mimiko be immediately picked up and tried for the civil servants who died under him for non-payment of 8 salaries.

See other tweets trending on the hashtag below:

 

Workers’ Salaries: Group Reveals How Ondo Under Mimiko Received Over N22bn From FG, But Refused To Pay Salaries In 2016

A Lagos based human rights and development advocacy group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, has revealed how the Ondo State Government under Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, received at least N22bn from the Federal Government in monthly allocations for 2016, but refused to pay 8 months salaries to its workers. Recall the newly elected governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu recently ordered the payment of one month salary to the workers.

This was revealed in the group’s report which it released on Monday in Lagos. In the report, the group stated that aside federal allocation, the state couldn’t account for the budget support funds it received from the federal ministry of finance and the Paris loan refund, neither are there massive infrastructural development across the state to explain the reason the state’s resources have been frittered away.

The report which focused on Status of Salary Payment in the South West, gave a pass mark to Lagos and Ogun for now owing any month arrears un till March 2017. The group further revealed that Oyo, Ekiti and Osun owed Five, Four and One month’s respectively.

In the case of Ekiti, the group stated that the government in the state has taken proactive steps to clear workers’ salaries. When the state budget support fund was seized by the coordinating ministry, “the governor stormed the finance house in a braggadocios manner, but all that has failed to get funds for him to pay his workers’ salaries.”

In Osun, the group revealed that through the help of a ‘revenue apportionment committee’, the state has been able to reduce its monthly wage bill from N3.6bn to N1.7bn thus helping the state to pay salaries according to agreement with the state labour unions till January, 2017.

The group further revealed in Oyo that, “the government of Oyo has spoken time and again of its readiness to clear all salary arrears when the revenue of the state improves, however, increment in revenue here means government earnings from the federal government must double.”

“Oyo State government with a monthly wage bill of N5.2bn as at February 2017 owes 6 months salaries and pensions. Before this current accumulation, the state had often asked workers to forfeit their salaries every other month, until it couldn’t pay again.” The group revealed in the report.

Read the full report here.

S/West PDP faction endorses Makarfi

Leaders of the PDP loyal to the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi faction of the party in the South West geo-political zone yesterday met in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, where they expressed support to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling that declared Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.

Some of the party leaders from the geo-political zone at the meeting were the national vice chairman of the party in the South West, Mr Eddy Olafeso, Senator Iyiola Omisore, the publicity secretary of the caretaker committee of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, ex-deputy governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Akerele Bucknor and the speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Kola Oluwawole.

Others were Chief Bode George, ex-governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, deputy governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Olusola Kolapo, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, the chairman of  the PDP loyal to Fayose in Ekiti, Mr Gboyega Ofuntuase, his counterpart in Osun, Bayo Faforiji and Engr. Clement Faborede in Ondo.

Governor Ayodele Fayose challenged members of the party to come out of timidity and speak out against alleged intimidation by agents of the APC, and predicted that God will soon move against those that are oppressing the PDP members in the country by declaring their seats vacant.

He described Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as an illegal occupant of the chairmanship seat of the party, adding that he would continue to back Makarfi.

In his address, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said the appeal court judgement will be upturned at the Supreme Court.

Adeyeye said: “Let me allay your fears, the minority judgment is going to be the final judgment at the end of the day. Already we have secured the services of six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to file all necessary papers at the Supreme Court and I’m assuring you that the case is going to be given accelerated hearing.”

In a 6-point communiqué read by the deputy governor of Ekiti State, the leaders passed a vote of confidence and support for the Sen. Makarfi-led national caretaker committee.

They expressed confidence in Governor Fayose as the leader of the party in the South West as well as the chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum.

Fayose had also in his opening remarks told former president Olusegun  Obasanjo to as a matter of urgency return the N10 million donation he made to his library project, including the interest accrued to the money.

Fayose said in 2015, governors on the platform of the PDP were compelled to donate N10m each to the multi-billion naira project, which he described as the greatest fraud ever.

 

Source: DAILY trust

Oyintiloye Bags Best South-West Lawmaker Award Today

A member of the State of Osun House of Assembly, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye would today be honoured as the best lawmaker in the South-West Nigeria for the Year 2016.
The honour would be conferred on him by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Ibadan Zonal Station at Jogor Event Center, Liberty Road,   Ibadan, Oyo State Capital.
Acccording to a statement from the his office, Oyintiloye, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, would be honoured alongside the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun and some other personalities.
The statement said, the honour would be presented in honour of Oyintiloye best active roles in community development and media friendliness.
Acccording to a letter signed by the Deputy Editor News, Dare Olorunfemi, the management of the Corporation said, the selection of the lawmaker was unanimous and thorough.
The letter read: “The honour is in recognition of your role as a resourceful representative noted for community development and media friendliness.
” Your choice was unanimous, stemming from your substantial contributions and impact on the people of Ibokun State constituency, Osun State”, it stated.

Hope Rising For Southwest, By Segun Gbadegesin

My heart is full of joy today. No, I did not win a lottery and nothing has changed in my personal circumstance. Indeed, given the uncertainties of life following the general election in my adopted and beloved country, there is plenty to worry a reflective mind. But with the one who can take control of everything and calm the tide and turbulence of life in charge, worrying is unwarranted.

I have joy in my heart because something great and desirable is finally happening in my native land as hope rises for the West. “It is God’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.”

Between October 7 and October 21, 2016 I did a three-part series on “Rethinking Southwest priorities.” In the second part, I argued that our political leaders, who have been favoured by providence as the Joshuas of our time, must lead our people with vision to the Promised Land. The best way to do so, I observed, is to remove the artificial boundaries that stand in the way of regional development. I submitted as follows:

“It was because I believe strongly that we must find a creative way of blurring the sharp and dangerous edges that the artificial boundaries between states have created, and remove the wedges that had effectively blocked the development of the entire region that I and other well-meaning citizens welcomed the emergence of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) a bold initiative of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) a few years ago.

For no matter the divisions, the people of Southwest are one and their leaders, no matter what the temptations are, must refrain from putting them asunder. States are supposedly created for administrative purposes. They must not be used in a way that retards growth or limit the opportunities for the people, and certainly never in a way that tears apart the fabric of the Yoruba nation.

In the light of the difference between the past and the present Southwest in terms of the transition from one region to six states, what adjustments need to be made to ensure that the people still matter and their social and economic interests are enhanced?

Voluntary regional integration must be the policy objective of the leaders of the states and region and party affiliation must not stand in the way of this important ideal. Years ago, I made this point in a keynote address to Egbe Omo Yoruba National Convention that took place in Baltimore, Maryland. It was also part of my submission when I gave the Bola Ige Memorial Lecture a few years ago. DAWN had not been established in those days, and the partisan war over rigged elections was still very much fierce. The challenge was for victims to accept the leadership of those who stole their mandate and work with them for the integration of the region. Happily, that war is over and political enemies of the past now wine and dine together on the same political table.

What needs to be overcome now is fiefdom mentality and leadership temptation to resist cross-fertilisation of ideas and practices across territorial boundaries.”

I never doubted the leadership credentials of our governors and political leaders. Neither did I question their patriotic fervour. The joy in my heart today is that my assumptions have been proved true and my argument in the series has been determined to be valid and sound.

I had challenged our political leaders on the general issue of regional integration for economic development. I also challenged my dynamic governors Ajimobi and Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun states respectively on the LAUTECH crisis. A week later, I read about their meeting which resolved the crisis with an affirmation of the joint ownership of the institution by their two states. I sent both congratulatory messages in appreciation of their mature leadership. That was another excellent example of responsive governance.

On the general issue of regional integration, I have always been aware of the strong commitment of our leaders to the concept. The challenge has been the frustrating combination of a willing spirit and a weak body. Yet the real solution for finding strength for the weakness of the body has ironically been to take the plunge and challenge the body. That is what has just occurred, thanks again to the recognition by the governors that a desperate time such as this needs a desperate solution.

As I browse gleefully through the communique issued at the end of their conference on November 21, 2016, I could not resist calling our leader, Chief Adebisi Akande, to share my ecstatic state of mind with him. I was particularly thrilled that the governors affirmed the principle championed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo that the sole purpose of government is the welfare of the people. This is expressed brilliantly as the first item on the communique: “That the optimum interest of the Yoruba people should be the prime focus of the six state governments at all times, and that all politics within the region must henceforth be guided by the philosophy of politics of development.”

Governor Ajimobi’s welcome statement set the ball rolling: “Let’s face it. We cannot continue to pretend that we can deal with the issues confronting our region and her people on a case-by-case, insular State basis. It will not work…State by state solutions, desirable as they might seem, are no longer enough. The capacity to optimise the space for development lies in collective thinking and actions, as well as effective collaborative governance.”

Other resolutions in the communique are equally noteworthy and praiseworthy:

“That regional cooperation, synergy and economies of scale are critical to the development of the region.

“That good intentions are not enough unless backed by sincerity of purpose and commitment to action.

“That the prosperity of any constituent part of the region is ultimately negated if other parts are not similarly prosperous.

“That political difference should no longer be a barrier to the economic development of the region where the aggregate welfare of Yoruba people is concerned. All the states consequently agreed to work together within the framework of a people-centred development strategy.

“A regime of continuity, regularity and urgency of interaction was canvassed and agreed upon by the meeting. The present crop of governors therefore agreed to bequeath to their people a good legacy reflective of the visions of our founding fathers and common ancestors.

“The states also agreed to jointly embark on collaborative programmes in areas of common interest that require immediate action in the region. These include security, education, transportation infrastructure (roads, rail and water transportation), trade, commerce, agriculture and sports.

“That the DAWN Commission (the regional development agency for pursuing the regional integration agenda of the states of Western Nigeria, comprising Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo) should be vigorously strengthened to coordinate the regional development process.

“That the current Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, should also serve as the chairman of the commission.

“DAWN Commission shall consequently develop programmes and activities along the identified areas of cooperation and bring them up for cooperative implementation.”

In a clear message of deviance to agents of destabilisation, and a courageous stand on the unity of the West, the governors boldly declared that “politics and external influence will not divide us.” What blood and historical ties have joined together, let no one attempt to put asunder.

This is what progressives have urged since the beginning of the Fourth Republic. That Governor Fayose saw it fit and morally obligatory to sit with his peers in the All Progressive Congress, and that Governor Mimiko, despite the partisan bickering that fills the air of Ondo can send his SSG to meet with his political opponents because they all recognise their blood ties and place a premium on the welfare of our people, must go down as the beginning of another glorious era of the Southwest.

I hope and pray that the new spirit of unity is sustained for the sake of the masses of our people whose lives would be positively impacted. The ball is now in the court of DAWN!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Aregbesola Expresses Worry Over Downward Trend Of Education In South West

Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has expressed worry over the downward trend of education in the South-West and called for concerted effort to urgently address the situation.

Speaking at a conference in Osogbo, the state capital, Aregbesola said education remains the basic factor that gives the South-West an edge over other regions in Nigeria, adding that the pursuit of education separated the Yoruba nation from any other.

According to him, Yoruba recorded many firsts in Law, Medicine, and Engineering among others. He however lamented that it is regrettable that the enviable legacy is being wiped off.

“After Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced free primary education in January 1955; that singular act created a 50 year education gap between the West and other parts of the country. For instance, our own Wole Soyinka is the only Nigerian that has won the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

He frowned that the current downward trend in education in the South-West should be worrisome, saying that it sounds stranger than fiction when he became governor in November 2010, less than five percent of secondary school leavers in Osun had the prerequisite five credit score, including English and Mathematics, needed for matriculation into tertiary institutions.

The governor emphasised that since education brings enlightenment to the human mind, provides the platform for leadership recruitment and provides the means for character building and good citizenship, it must not be taken with levity.