The six state governors of the South Western part of Nigeria were on Tuesday joined by notable personalities from the region in launching the Development Agenda For Western Nigeria (DAWN) with a consensus that the Yoruba people as a race must be ready to be on the march again to greatness and development.
The City Hall, Lagos presentation of the document published into an 80-page book also known as the Strategy Roadmap had in attendance Governors Babatunde Fashola (SAN) of Lagos State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and a representative of Dr Segun Mimiko of Ondo State, former Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Speaker, Mr Dimeji Bankole, Rtd General Adeyinka Adebayo, Rtd General Alani Akinrinade, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, Mr Fola Adeola who chaired the occasion, Mr Femi Falana and several other dignitaries.
Speaking at the event, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola(SAN), said much of the work to achieve the aims of the DAWN roadmap lies not only with the Governors but with the people of the South West who must remain united.
He said the South West has always been the fountain of knowledge and at the forefront of all developmental activities in Nigeria, adding that Lagos is happy to play host to the whole of South West for the launch of the DAWN roadmap.
The Governor gave a commitment that the Governors will support the implementation of the DAWN programme as it affects agriculture, education, health care delivery and security.
Governor Fashola commended the Afenifere Renewal Group and Yoruba intellectuals in the Yoruba Academy for reawakening everyone in the South West on why Petroleum should not be the main source of sustenance for the economy.
He reiterated that the Group must be supported by all and sundry to succeed in the quest to ensure that the South West returns to its prime of place as the pacesetter in Nigeria at all times.
Also speaking, former Governor and national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu said the launch of the roadmap is about what the people of the Yoruba area will do about setting agenda in the field of health, education, construction and development growth.
He said Nigeria as a country must practice federalism and forget about the unitary system because now Nigeria is a practicing democracy but still showing some traits of a unitary state as demonstrated by the move to register hotels by the government at the centre.
He said to ensure a buy in of all segments to the programme, all parliamentarians from the South West must be invited to the next meeting the Afenifere Renewal Group so that they can make contributions to the programme.
Asiwaju Tinubu said the integration of the zone will bring about several developments such as the creation of new jobs in education through the nutritious school meal programme.
The former Governor explained that even if it is eggs that will be provided for the school pupils, many of the poultries in the South West area will be engaged to produce more eggs for the school meal programme.
He urged the people of the South West to focus on what they intend to achieve as a people with the Development Agenda For Western Nigeria (DAWN) document, adding that in making the achievements of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the old Western Region the reference point, they should be reminded that “you cannot develop today’s farm with yesterday’s cutlass”.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who also addressed the gathering, urged the people of the South West to go beyond what late Chief Obafemi Awolowo achieved in the old Western Region.
He said now is the time for everyone to have their hands on the plough and be proactive on how the South West can be made great again, adding that the Ogun State Government is fully embracing agriculture.
He also informed that the present regime has improved the level of education in the State such that parents are now moving their wards in droves from private schools to public schools.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi said the launch of the Development of Agenda of Western Nigeria is coming up at the right time because Yorubaland must be developed.
Governor Fayemi said now is the time to convene the type of meeting that was convened in 1966 by Rtd General Adeyinka Adebayo to determine the way forward for the South West.
The Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi commended the development of the DAWN document by the Afenifere Renewal Group, adding that Ibadan as the capital of the old Western Region will live up to expectation.
He said the degradation which the education sector experienced in Oyo State was as a result of several years of misrule which the present administration is committed to redressing.
Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola lamented that the Peoples Democratic Party was in power in most states of the South West from 2003 and in the centre from 1999 but this never translated to any meaningful development for the Yoruba nation.
He said kudos should be given Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who fought like a Trojan in 2003 to resist the army of occupation of the PDP in taking over the whole of the South West States.
He commended the Afenifere Renewal Group for developing the DAWN document, adding that with it the South West will be taken to the next level.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole who was also at the launch urged the present crop of leaders of the South West to do their best for the region and realize that power is transient.
Human Rights lawyer and activist, Mr Femi Falana in his address said a lot lies ahead for the people of the South West especially in terms of work to be done for the attainment of the goals of the DAWN policy document.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Afenifere Renewal Group, Hon Wale Oshun said the dream of the ARG in developing the strategy roadmap was to ensure that the Yoruba were developed.
He said the journey must be started now and ensuring that all the governments in the South West have made the people their main stay and focus in provision of good governance.
He explained that Nigeria is a multi ethnic cultural entity which only a federal system can sustain, adding that the time to go back to the drawing board is now because currently the development of the Yoruba is a must.
Dr Doyin Salami of the Pan African University, Lagos who gave a keynote address on the theme: “On The March Again” said many people in the South West have always wondered when the achievements recorded in the days of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo would be replicated.
He said the question that should be asked is if the people are ready to march again or if they can indeed march again, stating that the answer is not about a yes or no but about introspection.
He said it is virtually impossible for people to think Nigeria will abolish states and return to regionalism, adding that what is needed now is collaboration between the states and that everyone must agree on a vision of what the South West should be like in 50years time.
Dr Salami said there is high level of unemployment and high level of skill shortage in the South West because the basic education curricular does not support post basic education.
He advocated an auditing of the assets and opportunities that abound in the South West adding that with the opportunities that abound in the South West, a clear vision of what is to be done will be pursued.
In a preview of the DAWN Roadmap done by Mr Dipo Famakinwa of Development Qualitatives Limited, he stated that the vision is to make the South West the first choice to work, live and to visit.
He added that the DAWN Roadmap consists of a global vision which is very audacious and which focuses on values redefinition and a cultural rebirth of the people.
Mr Opeyemi Agbaje said the DAWN Strategy Roadmap is a document and process that indicates where the Yoruba development agenda should focus for a common development strategy.
Foremost banker and Founder of Fate Foundation, Mr Fola Adeola who chaired the event, cited several Yoruba anecdotes and mythical examples to admonish the Yoruba race to rise up and have a fundamental rethink on issues that affect the people of Yoruba land.
The Development Agenda For Western Nigeria (DAWN) known as the Strategy Roadmap was later launched by dignitaries including the six State Governors and Yoruba elder statesmen at the ceremony.