Governors of the six states in Nigeria’s Southwest have endorsed the recommendation of a committee they set up for the establishment of the Southwest Development Commission (SWDC).
The Technical Committee, set up towards the realisation of the commission, while submitting a memorandum for the establishment of the body to the Ondo State Governor and Chairman of the Southwest Governors‘ Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), urged the governors to use their political clout to ensure the passage of the bill to give a legal backing to the reification of the idea.
Already, the Senate has passed the bill, sponsored by a former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, introduced in November 2019, for second reading.
The Bill for an Act to establish the Southwest Development Commission is expected to act as catalyst to develop the commercial and industrial potential of the Southwest, receive and manage funds from allocation from the federation for the agricultural and industrial development of the region and address any other related security and development challenges as well as other exigencies that would arise intermittently.
The memorandum was presented to Akeredolu by the Chairman of the Technical Committee and Chief of Staff to the Governor of Osun State, Dr. Charles Diji Akinola.
The committee has as members, the attorneys-general of the states and one other nominated person each from the six states.
The attorneys-general are Sir Charles Titiloye (Ondo), Mr. Femi Akande(Osun), Prof. Oyewo Oyelowo, SAN (Oyo), Mr. Gbolahan Adeniran (Ogun), Mr. Olawale Fapohunda (Ekiti) and Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN (Lagos).
Other members are: Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor (Political) Hon. Babatunde Odunyoye, Ogun State Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Dapo Okubadejo, Chairman, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko Governing Council, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, Ekiti State Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Akin Oyebode and former Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi.
Presenting the report, Akinola said the memorandum comprised an expanded report, which looked at the different provisions of the bill for the proposed South-West Development Commission and the observations and comments that have been made around it.
Akinola said: “What we are presenting today is a joint memorandum, which is the resolution that has been adopted by all the technical committee members as the outcome of this committee’s deliberation for future consideration at your level as governors.”
He highlighted some grey areas, which have been deliberated upon and the recommendations made for the governors, adding that two committees and seven other sub-committees have been recommended.
Receiving the report, Akeredolu commended the efforts of members of the technical committee at arriving at the memorandum, stressing that their choice by the governors was justifiable.
Akeredolu promised that at the level of the South-west Governors’ Forum, the highlighted issues such as the headquarters of the commission and the rest would be carefully looked into and deliberated upon for the good of the people of the region.
He thanked the committee on their position on the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) stating that DAWN will continue to exist as a think- tank just as the SWDC will provide the needed support base.
On the issue of dual membership by Ondo State given its inclusion in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which was raised by the committee, Akeredolu said: “You raised the issue of Ondo State and NDDC. I can assure you; Ondo State is part of South-west. You can’t exclude Ondo from the South-west. This is about our region and not about Ondo State already belonging to another commission like the NDDC.”
Akeredolu assured the committee that the South-west governors would meet and transmit the memorandum to the National Assembly to help the ongoing work on the SWDC Bill.