Southern govs unveil five-point agenda for region’s development

Abiodun emerges forum’s chairman, Soludo as vice chairman.

The newly elected chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, Governor Dapo Abiodun, has unveiled a five-point agenda of the forum under his leadership.

While the governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Soludo, became the vice chairman, Abiodun emerged as chairman to succeed Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who died last December after s protracted illness.

Issues on the agenda, according to Abiodun, include Security, Infrastructure, Food Security and Agriculture, Transportation and Devolution of Powers.

Speaking on a Channels Television programme, Politics Today Monday evening, Abiodun said the focus of the governors is socio-economic development of the Southern zone, which he said would be pushed under the ‘Southern States Development Agenda.’

Mentioning security as first priority, Abiodun said the governors are in support of state policing such that governors are indeed chief security officers of their states, adding that the zone is resolute about establishment of a regional security outfit.

He said that the governors remained keen on state police and community policing, having discovered that the federal police lacked the manpower, resources and understanding of the terrains so as to quickly detect and arrest acts of criminality.

The forum’s chairman said that southern governors were also keen on regional integration through infrastructure.

He said the zone was intent on having a multi-modal transport infrastructure to connect road, air, rail, water transportation to aid the movement of foods and services and investment.

He particularly lauded the administration of President Bola Tinubu for initiating the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project, which he said epitomized the intended infrastructure drive of the forum.

While acknowledging the current high cost of food items in the country, Abiodun said that the governors resolved to be more deliberate about promoting agriculture and food security in their various states.

He noted that the Southern region had millions of hectares of arable land, adding that the zone had no reason not to grow what it eats as well as export its cash crops.

He said the states resolved to really key into their competitive and comparative advantages in the overall interest of the zone.

Abiodun also identified the push for devolution of powers as top on the priority of the Southern Governors, which he said would ensure that the states no longer rely on federal allocation.

Specifically, he said the Southern governors demanded that the Federal Government transfers to states some Trunk A roads, as well as grant the states more powers for exploitation and exploration of resources in their domains including Value Added Tax (VAT).

To achieve their goals, Abiodun said that the Southern governors would meet quarterly, while the meetings would rotate among the states of the zone.