12 Years After, Southern Governors’ Forum Reconvenes in Lagos

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Amid calls for a negotiated restructuring of Nigeria, the Southern Governors’ Forum, a platform of the 17 governors from the three geopolitical zones in the South, will reconvene in Lagos monday, 12 years after it held its last meeting. The Forum, which had its inaugural meeting in Lagos in 2001 in the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, will deliberate and work out strategies to forge stronger ties among states in the South-east, South-south, and South-west.

The plan is contained in a statement the Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, issued saturday. Bello noted that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Mr. Emmanuel Udom, would co-host the meeting.

Bello explained the significance of the platform, which he said, was a replica of the Northern States Governors Forum, a platform for peer review among the 19 governors in the northern part of the country.

As the forum reconvenes in Lagos on Monday, the statement said its core agenda would include deliberation on issues such as armed robbery, kidnapping, devolution of powers, and fiscal federalism. The statement said each of the agenda had gained prominence in the country’s public space in the last two years, noting that it has become imperative to build stronger ties to respond to issues of common interest to the member-states.

Unlike in the post-2005 period, when southern Nigeria had divergent views on issues of common interest, the statement said the forum would henceforth enable all states in the South-east, South-south and South-west to speak with one voice.

It added that the meeting would address issues germane “to the development of the three contiguous zones. This is in line with the realisation that the different states in the South have since 2005 developed several areas of comparative advantage.

“This could be harnessed and become mutually beneficial. The governors will also be expected to adopt a common position on the issues of armed robbery, kidnapping, devolution of powers and the issue of fiscal federalism, which have all gained prominence of late.”

The statement noted that the 2017 Lagos summit of the 17 southern governors, representing the South-south, South-west and South-east geo-political zones, would come up with a communiqué after their deliberation. It said that the predominance of views “is that if the southern states speak with one voice, they are bound to attract weighty and credible listenership.”

The statement said the summit would be attended by the co-hosts and their colleagues, namely, Prof. Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Mr. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Mr. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, and Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.

Others are Mr. Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Mr. David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, and Mr. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.

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