SAVE for a collective attempt to restructure the Nigerian polity, solo efforts by the political leadership in the geopolitical zones for economic integration could exacerbate frictions that presently obtain across the country.
However, some zones do not seem to have a clear idea of what economic reintegration is all about.
For instance, the political leadership of the Southwest seems upbeat with the zone’s planned economic reintegration programme, but getting it off the ground without rancour remain impossible.
This stems from the seeming refusal of some of the protagonists to drop their one-party mentality.
Going by the tough stance of those who think the zone must evolve a monolithic party system in order to forge ahead economically and socially, the return to the fruitful days of the Western Region could as well be a farce.
Last week’s meting of leaders and politicians of the zone in Lagos, at the instance of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) showed clearly that the initiative is largely driven and sponsored by persons who are sympathetic to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), to the exclusion of others, including the Labour government in Ondo under Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
For that reason, a founding member of the ARG, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, has warned that if this process of reintegration must work, there should be deep thinking and sincerity on the part of the drivers.
He said: “Beyond rhetoric and sound bites, there is nothing yet on the ground to show that the people of the Southwest are not back to another season of slogans.
“As a people, we have traveled this road before with apparent futility as reward. A much more influential Afenifere, under the leadership of Senator Abraham Adesanya, could not succeed.
“Between 1999 and 2003, it was impossible to settle disputes over assets between Ondo and Ekiti States, which was governed as one state by the late Papa Michael Adekunle Ajasin.”
In the same vein, the South-South governments have in place an economic programme to facilitate a common policy on development.
But since it was established two years ago, the project is yet to overcome its teething challenges. In spite of the various interventions in the zone, development is still a major challenge.
The Director-General of the BRACED Commission (comprising Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Edo and Delta States), Ambassador Joe Keshi, says the commission is on course to meet the vision and mission of its founders — the six states of the South-South.
“We are doing a couple of things right now,” he said, adding, “we will act as both a think tank and facilitator.”
“We will facilitate the states coming together to form a common policy for the region, defining what the BRACED Commission can do on a regional level and what the states can do at the state level.”
Ambassador Mamman Yusuf, former national chairman of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), blames the frenzied move by regions to form economic blocs on the 13-year failure of the Peoples Democratic Part-led government at the centre, which he alleged mismanaged the massive inflow of millions of petro-dollars and left the states gasping for survival.
He said: “There is no part of the country that does not add value. What we should be focusing on is the level of waste and corruption, which we have subjected common resources.
“There is no local government in the country that earns less than N100 million monthly, yet what do they do? They just share the money, whether in Yobe or in Bayelsa.
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