Southwest Regional Body Asks FG to Democratize Railway, Power Sectors, Others
By Ikenna Omeje
A dedicated technocratic institution for the sustainable development of the Southwest Region, the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), has asked the Federal Government to democratize the nation’s railway and power sectors, as well as mining and seaports.
The Director-General of the commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye who stated this in a statement, which was obtained by ThisDay, said that the 1955 Railway Act that puts rail in the exclusive list should be repealed and replaced with a regime that would encourage regional integration.
He, however, admitted that extensive collaboration exist in mining and power, where the Federal Government has encouraged states to participate.
Oyeleye said: “It must be private sector-led. States should adopt the twin strategy of competition and cooperation to first, liberalise their environment to compete for investors and markets; then they should collaborate to attract investment region-wide in agriculture, mining, transportation, manufacturing, water resources and ICT.
“As globalisation and technology further collapse physical, trade, cultural and communication barriers, governments, businesses and social groups are more than ever before, pursuing supranational and sub-national integration to maximise productive potential and achieve sustainable development goals.
“While Nigeria has signed on to global, continental and sub-regional integrative pacts, formal integration activity within its internal geopolitical regions is largely neglected. Regional or inter-local cooperation involves one or more governments agreeing to plan for their joint futures.”
According to him: “With the revenue sharing formula that we operate now, the states will perpetually be under the federal government.
“We have tied ourselves to a constitution that is hindering development and this must change. Nigeria’s crisis of development is traceable to its faulty administrative structure that has inhibited the component states, created political and economic gridlock, and squelched local and regional integration, creative thinking and initiative.
“The union was birthed as three regions — later four — whose economies were once fully integrated. The six SW states constituted the bulk of the old Western Region; today’s 19 northern states were integrated in the defunct Northern Region, nine of the 11 states grouped separately in the South-South and the South-East regions constituted the old Eastern Region.
“The Journal of African History recorded how the Northern Region integrated its mining, farming, animal husbandry and traditional crafts sectors into a cohesive autonomous economy with linkages of its cotton, groundnuts and thriving tanneries and textile factories.
“The Eastern Region leveraged palm oil, coal mining, road infrastructure, farm settlements in various parts to attract investment and a light industrial base. In the West, pacesetting initiatives integrated the farms and transportation infrastructure to pioneering industrial estates and export markets.
“Consequently, inclusive GDP yearly growth averaged 6-8 percent 1960-70, according to the Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics. With the loss of fiscal federalism and reliance on oil gas revenues, the Dutch disease delivered non-inclusive growth, creating more poor and a few rich.
“The self-destructive charade must end. With the abject failure of the current unitary federalism manifested in insecurity, economic deprivation and mass poverty, joblessness and decrepit infrastructure, states within the six geopolitical zones need urgently to collaborate and fashion internal regional initiatives to create economic hubs.”