The two-year land border closure by the Federal Government, mass youth unemployment and expeditious restructuring of the Nigerian state are some of the vexed issues raised by South-west parley of its six governors, traditional rulers, and serving ministers in the President Muhammadu Buhari government.
“We believe that the prolonged closure of the border has caused economic difficulties and should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and prices of some essential commodities.
“There is need to review the closure and permit resumption of economic and trading activities.
“A comprehensive programme that addresses youth employment and empowerment should be prioritized. Closer coordination and complementarity between the states and the Federal Government,’’ Persecondnews quotes the attendees as saying in a 13-point resolution after a four-hour meeting on Monday in Lagos.
The stakeholders’ meeting called for an urgent review of the curricular of tertiary institutions with emphasis placed on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
They urged the Buhari administration to dust up the reports of the various constitutional conferences, including 2014 National Conference and implement some of the recommendations particularly as regards security, economy, equal treatment for citizens.
In attendance were the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahin Gambari and some security chiefs including the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Director-General, Department of State Service, DSS.
The roll-call: Govs. Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and the host, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
Ministers from the zone are Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Raji Fashola (SAN), Minister of Sports, Youths and Development, Sunday Dare, Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunmbe Mamora, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite and Minister of State for Niger-Delta, Tayo Alasoadura.
Among the prominent monarchs at the meeting were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Akinruntan Obateru, Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Adewale Sotobi and the Orangun of Ila, Oba Adedeji Oyedotun.
Others are the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo, Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Adebanji Alabi and Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle.
The attendees took a critical look at the levels of destruction that followed the October #EndSARS protests in the zone especially in Lagos which was believed to have been hijacked by hoodlums after watching footage of the horrendous, bloody violence at Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.
The communiqué also called for a review of the nation’s security architecture to adequately address the threats and realities of insecurity while demanding more police presence in communities in the Southwest states.
It said: “The need to undertake preventive actions aimed at prevention of repeat of what happened in the country following the #EndSARS demonstrations. Security needs to be strengthened in all states.
“We wish to encourage the Nigeria Police by responding to their needs and appeal to them to do more to protect lives and properties and enhance security all over the country.
“We call for specific measures and proposals to repair damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the South-West.
“We recognize the damaging and negative impact of fake/false news and worry about its destructive and dangerous potency of fake news. We call on federal government to use the instrumentality of existing laws and those regulations bench-marked from other countries to provide safeguards against the spread of fake news. 2015 Cyber Act will also be fully used.
“Federal Government should ensure that technology is used effectively for the advancement of the Nigerian Security and not its destruction by working with the technology cum social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The regime of checks and gatekeeping should be fully employed.
“Effort should be made to resolve the impasse between ASUU and the federal government so students can return to school in earnest.’’
Contributing to the discussions, the monarchs canvassed true federalism to address fundamental issues confronting the country and allow states to develop at their own pace as witnessed in the First Republic.
The Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, and others chided government at all levels and politicians for the #EndSARS protests, saying neglect of the traditional institutions in governance has created a vacuum.
They blamed politicians for turning politics into a money-making business at the expense of the interest of the youths which has caused mass unemployment and insecurity, noting that the high rate of unemployment among youths caused the #EndSARS protest.
“The governors have taken the right steps with this meeting. However, they have been far away from us, the monarchs. You should not wait till election period before you reach out to us. This type of meeting should come regularly. We know the good and the bad in our communities but we are under-utilised,” Ooni of Ife said.
For the Alaafin of Oyo, the destruction has put the region in a complex and critical situation.
“It is a complex and complicated matter. Our children are jobless and many are hungry and angry. The problems are too much for the states. The states are not independent. The structure we run in Nigeria cannot allow state governors to do much for their states; there is the need for power devolution.”
The Oba of Lagos,: “The the truth is very bitter. Majority of the problems are caused by politicians. The power with the Federal Government is too much. The security architecture of the country needs to be restructured.
“The problem we have in Lagos is security and unemployment. The youths have to be looked after. What happened is a pure case of security breach. The entire system needs reformation.
“There is so much concentration of power at the centre. Mr President should assist in rebuilding process of the affected states. The culture of our forefathers has been neglected. The gods are angry. Lagos should be accorded special status.”
The Olu of Ilaro: “The issue of insecurity has been with us for years. In 2014 National Conference we spent weeks discussing Nigeria. The report has not been looked at. Nothing stops the current government from implementing the recommendations.
“The COS to the President was at the confab and he played crucial roles, and fortunately, he is now in government. Let us leave politics and look at the good sides of the 2014 confab and implement them.
“There is so much power in Abuja. It is time to have true federalism. Let FG reconsider its position on closure of borders, majority of our youths have been rendered jobless.’’
Earlier, Ondo Gov. and Chairman, Southwest Governors’ Forum, Akeredolu, said the meeting was called to deliberate on the magnitude of properties destroyed during the #EndSARS-hoodlums protests.
“The meeting has been called for us to have very important relationship between us, within us and among us. Our brothers in the North, South-South, and South-East have had this same interaction. As you all know, we have gone through a lot with the recent experiences. Everybody is worried and concerned. We have some measure of peace now but we must be able to sustain the peace at all cost.
“We all witnessed what our youths did before our eyes. What started as peaceful demonstration by some of our youths as #EndSars was turned to different things. There was threat to all of us even governors. No one could dare walk outside. What we saw made us tremble, so we want to come up with solution.’’
The Chief of Staff to the President, Gambari, who led the Federal Government delegation to the meeting, said the President was saddened by the magnitude of destruction in the state, which necessitated the presence of a delegation from the Presidency at the meeting.
“The President is aware of the level of destruction and the people who sabotaged genuine course for justice but used the action to destroy businesses and infrastructure.
“It is true our youths have been ignored for a long time but we can not continue to do so. The purpose of this engagement is to find out what the federal and state governments have done and can do. The Buhari administration is set to address what brought us to this level.
“The government is committed to police reform and community policing that can resolve some of our issues,” he said.