Cold calculations bordering on concerns over alleged northern plot to dominate the Southwest ahead 2019 polls might just be the real reason governors from the region gathered in Ibadan on Monday.
Arising from a meeting that saw all but one of the six Southwest governors in attendance, Ripples Nigeria gathered that the helmsmen resolved to build stronger economic ties to stave off crisis of underdevelopment and growth in the region.
Cached as an ‘economic forum,’ the meeting via a communique read by Governor Ayo Fayose said, “All states, including Ekiti, have subscribed to and agreed that regional integration is the best way forward. We must do everything humanly possible not to go back on our resolves. It is forward for the people and for the Yoruba race.”
Sources close to organizers of the meeting, however, note that there was much more to the gathering and that the forum only provided a canopy to weigh in on political developments in the region.
The flurry of activities, it is noted, may not be unconnected with permutations for the 2019 elections which may see incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari run again for office. Presidency officials almost gave away the President’s hidden agenda on Monday when one of his top media aides, Shehu Garba, alluded to sufficient goodwill as basis for Buhari to eye the polls in 2019.
Outside the confines of the meeting, the Southwest governors are said to have expressed serious concerns over attempts by the Presidency to rubbish select Yoruba elders and enthrone younger politicians in the bid to secure a foothold in the region.
Ripples Nigeria learnt that the matter of Buhari-Tinubu face-off was extensively discussed with agreements reached not to allow celebrated leaders of the region to be rubbished. While the forum conceded that members could have different political leanings, it, therefore, resolved to stave off external forces threatening to harm the ‘Omoluabi’ kindred spirit.
Governor Ayo Fayose whose State, Ekiti, is billed to host the next meeting, and who is a strident critic of Buhari, revealed that the region was perfecting plans to implement the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN Commission).
Though details of this are still sketchy, insiders say concerns were expressed that much of what was being proposed for the funding of the North East Development Commission ( about 3% of VAT earnings over a 10-year period ) would be drawn largely from the Southwest economy, especially Lagos.
The unspoken resolutions at the Ibadan gathering, critics note, is that the Southwest region will resist any and every attempt to further subjugate it politically and economically. How far the handshake in Ibadan is sustained will surely determine how trade-offs ahead 2019 polls will play out.
Present in Ibadan were governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Rotimi Adelola (Secretary to Government, Ondo) who represented governor Olusegun Mimiko.
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