Home Breaking News Inter-state linkages – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics

Inter-state linkages – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics

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Editorial

 

Chief Obafemi Awolowo once suggested “Greater Lagos” — expanding the Lagos Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to include much of the present Ogun State, in lieu of starting, from the scratch, a new capital.  Now, Lagos and Ogun states are about reaping the mutual benefits of that “Greater Lagos” idea.

Also, there are talks about the imperative of a new federal constitution; or at the very least, crucial amendments to re-federalise the 1999 Constitution, to make states the centres of national economic activity, aided by a re-tweaked revenue allocation formula, that pushes more resources to the states.

It is heart-warming that as efforts to amend the constitution are on-going, Lagos and Ogun are pointing the way to how states can collaborate among themselves for mutual linkages and benefits.

That is what the proposed Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission is all about. It is a primer, as good as any, for states to imbibe: to build mutual infrastructure, and unleash the economic potential and creative energy of their states: to empower and develop their respective people, pending the proclamation of a more federalist-inclined grundnorm.

But this question is valid: right now, there is the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), a South West-wide policy think-tank, with the strategic goal of regional integration. There is also the Oodua Group of Companies, a conglomerate private sector player, owned by the six South West states. Isn’t Lagos-Ogun Development Commission then a duplication of matters?

Not quite. More than any other in the South West, Lagos and Ogun share exclusive and mutual challenges, yearning to be turned benefits.  For starters, Ogun shares exclusive boundary, to the south, with Lagos, within Nigeria.

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For another, their respective boundary areas — witness Ota (on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway), Berger (on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway) and Itoikin/Odo Ajogun (Lagos)-Odo Agboju (Ogun) boundary settlements, at the Ijebu-Ode/Epe end, are so intertwined they call for closer integration and cooperation, for mutual benefits.

Both governors, at the Abeokuta unveiling of the commission’s  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) were spot on. On joint infrastructure, they spoke of the Federal Government ceding to both, to rebuild the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and the Ikorodu-Sagamu road — busy federal arteries but which have become dilapidated.  Securing the Federal Government’s nod to fix both would engender safer and faster travel; and accelerate economic activity in both states — even if both have to be tolled.

Besides, Lagos is about starting the construction of the 4th Mainland Bridge, a leg of which will link the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, deep in Ogun territory.  A Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission would ease legal works on these critical infractructure, which can only result in mutual benefits for both states.

Furthermore, there are issues of transportation (especially waterways and rail, on which the duo can cooperate and share costs), agriculture, security, sanitation, traffic management, water supply, urban renewal and slum upgrades, particularly of hurried settlements, natural overflows from Lagos.

Which is why, as the two governors stressed at the inauguration, the commission would be steeped in law, approved by the their two Houses of Assembly, to protect the economic union from future adverse politics.  Indeed, the founding processes can’t be rigorous enough.

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First, was the MOU. That was a statement of intent and serious commitment. To follow — and perhaps already in place — is a Lagos-Ogun joint committee, to further study the nitty-gritty of the proposed commission and make final recommendations. Then, the crowning glory: the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission Law, passed by the two Houses of Assembly.

Even with a challenging constitution, this is the path to follow, to quicken economic federalism nationwide; and spark the development and eventual prosperity, bound to follow.

Inter-state cooperation and collaboration like these would form the crucial linkages on which regional economic cooperation and integration are erected.  The six geo-political zones buzzing with regional economic and trade blocs will certainly fuel new jobs, draft idle youth to productive work and reduce criminality, and negative agitations.

That is a sound and logical way to refocus our youth and re-direct their energy to positive endeavours. Lagos and Ogun are showing the way. The other 34 states should follow.



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