Southern Leaders Advocate Industrial Framework to Grow

Regional integration, investments and security issues as well as infrastructure were incorporated as elements of discourse and development agenda, at the meeting which brought together six governors and four deputies at the day-long confab held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. The commitment of the governors of South-South and South-East geo-political regions of Nigeria to effectively promote economic cooperation and integration, raise the standard of living of the people of the zone; maintain and enhance economic stability, foster closer relations amongst the progress, prosperity, and development of Nigeria, received unprecedented support and acclamation at the early recent discussions of states’ chief executives.

The governors, who dwelled on the need for deliberate e orts at developing an industrial framework that will help catalyze socio-economic activities within the region, described the meeting as a new beginning for the two geo-political zones. In the communiqué at the end of the early meeting, the leaders subscribed to the destiny and greatness of Nigeria, agreeing to promote the unity of the country, but urged the federal government to encourage investors in the oil and gas industry to attract more investments in the sector. They promised to work together politically, align and realign as a people that share common heritage, culture and affinity. They condemned hate speech featuring in the national discourse, whether in individual communication or utterances of political actors or parties and charged security agencies to set up joint border patrols to combat crime and criminality.

The regional leaders who further called for greater regional and economic integration of the zone to enhance the development of the area, stressed the urgent need to establish and link cities within the zone’s railways and super highways; to provide viable and affordable flight services as a veritable means of stimulating growth in the area.

On the sordid state of the roads, the summit of governors urged the federal government to evolve a clear policy on concession of federal roads and to fast track the process in order to reduce the sufferings of people in the regions. Shortly after the convention of governors, the state deputy governor, Professor Ivara Esu who stood in for Governor Ben Ayade, posited that most of the issues raised at the meeting of regional leaders are in consonance with the policy direction of the Senator Ben Ayade-led administration in Cross River State, adding that the establishment of an industrial framework has already gathered momentum and started yielding dividends in the state. Observers had extolled the vision of the assembly of political game changers, stating that such initiative would effectively provide for the achievement of predetermined objectives.

On the perennial issue of national security, observers opined that security challenges and youth unemployment would also reduce to the barest minimum if the scope of influence of regions was given a boost through regional autonomy. They reiterated the call on the federal government to as a matter of urgency review its tourism policy regime if the business of tourism is to flourish in the country. Analysts believe that disposition of the governors towards attaining regional autonomy and self-sufficiency is contagious and a precursor to the enthronement of the much-awaited and controversial issue of national restructuring, which will entitle regions and sub-nationals fiscal jurisdiction of resources produced in their areas of control.

It is hoped that the conference of South-South and South-East governors will work assiduously with all stakeholders in the project to give flesh to the resolutions reached at the Sunday long meeting. Who knows it might be the much-awaited vision severally said to hold solution to the seemingly daunting and intractable problems of the region and country. The meeting which was presided by the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Udom Emmanuel had in attendance seven governors and four deputy  governors.

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