Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose on Tuesday lauded his counterpart in Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for his innovative projects across the landscape of the State but urged him to replicate same in terms of leading the economic growth and development of the south west.
Fayose, who spoke at the opening session of a two-day summit of the Western Nigeria Governors Forum held at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, said though Governor Ambode had done commendably well in championing south west integration, he must, however, do more for the comfort and well-being of the Yoruba nation.
“As much as we want restructuring; we want true federalism; I am committed to it but talking about Nigeria, the west has potentials; we have the capacity to develop this country and with Lagos on the driver’s seat, we can save the whole of this country.
“The states of the south-west are looking up to Governor Ambode. As Governor of Ekiti, I barely get allocation that pays my salary but when we look at Lagos being in the south-west, we are consoled and Lagos can make the whole of the south-west comfortable but we will continue to come to Lagos if you don’t do something about it.
“We need Governor Ambode to lead South West growth and if we are able to achieve this, in another ten years, the issue will no longer be restructuring because people will begin to look at what is happening in the west,” Fayose said.
Fayose, who is the only Governor of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the region, said credit must also be given to the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his contribution to the growth and economic integration of the south-west.
He particularly described Tinubu as a manufacturer that produces quality products, who in turn, are making giant strides for the benefit of the people.
According to Fayose, “When you see a product, you can tell of its manufacturer. I salute Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and I will keep acknowledging him. I am never a pretender; I have been very consistent and I will keep on saying it irrespective of political affiliation.
“Asiwaju Tinubu laid the foundation; nobody can deny it. I am never a member of APC and I will never be but the truth must be said at all times. The environment where we are today tells it all. I am particularly proud of his product – Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos State,” he said.
Fayose specifically eulogized Governor Ambode’s attitude, character, person and above all, commendable achievements in office so far, saying some of the innovative transformation already implemented in Lagos by the present administration were being replicated in Ekiti.
He said: “The little Governor Ambode has done within this timeframe is so encouraging. I told the Governor one day when I was building my bridge in Ekiti that I was passing through some of his projects in Lagos and I added what I saw to my own; some of them I copied in the night.
“When your brother is doing well, celebrate him. The problem in Nigeria is that evil is celebrated more than truth. I am openly acknowledging you and that is me. I don’t care, when I am with you, I celebrate you openly.
“There are some lights I saw on the bridge in Lagos; I went there in the night, I studied everything and as we speak, someone is on his way out of the country to get them for me to use for our projects,” Fayose said.
On his part, Governor Ambode said there was no better time for states in the region to pull together to fathom ways of tackling social and economic challenges facing the people individually and collectively.
He particularly emphasized the need for comprehensive, sustainable and collective food security plan, as well as collaborative efforts on issues of security, economy and well-being of the people, among others.
According to him, “Increased collaboration in agricultural activities is critical to sustaining the teeming population of Western Nigeria. Lagos State alone is over 23 million people and on record, 85 people migrate into Lagos from other parts of Nigeria on hourly basis.
“The drive towards food security is therefore not only to ensure that Lagosians have enough to eat, but that the people of the entire Western Nigeria have enough to eat and export to other States and outside Nigeria.
“The whole essence of food security of Western Nigeria is thus focused on our States maximizing their comparative advantages to guarantee increased food, jobs creation and the welfare of our people,” Governor Ambode said.
Besides, Governor Ambode thanked Governors in the region for providing land to enable Lagos activate the 32 Ton per Hour Rice Mill recently being pursued, saying apart from being the largest of its kind in Nigeria for now, the mill would generate over 200,000 jobs across Western Nigeria and produce most of the rice need of the region and beyond.
He also described the admittance of Lagos State into the Odua Investment family as a significant mileage in the quest for economic integration of the Western Nigeria, just as he expressed hope that the development would help in catalyzing a momentous growth in the economic activities of the region through, but not limited to the instrumentality of Odua Investment Group.
Aside Governors Ambode and Fayose, the summit with the theme: “Consolidating the Legacy of Regional Integration,” was attended by Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), while Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) was represented by his deputy, Yetunde Onanuga.
In their respective submissions, the Governors underscored the strategic role of Lagos to the development of the South West, and called for concerted efforts to collaborate for the progress of the region.