Following the success of the regional security outfit codenamed Amotekun and other regional initiatives, Southwest States have agreed to launch regional railway and electricity projects.
The decision came on the heels of the Electricity and Railway Acts 2023 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari. The new laws decentralized the operation of power and rail among others. The items were on the Exclusive List for decades, factor experts have consistently described as a cog in the wheel of progress in the two sectors.
At the end of a two-day conference on the subjects in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Thursday, the six States agreed to pursue regional power and rail projects to deliver economic and social benefits to the region.
Organized by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission in collaboration with Odu’a Investments Company Ltd., the conference, which was hosted by the Ondo State Investments Promotion Agency (ODSIPA) highlighted the need for each state to build projects in the two sectors and build inter-connectivity among them. The States are Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Lagos.
Experts and commissioners for power and transport in the states gave insights to models that can work, financing options and the need to develop a uniform legal framework for the projects in order to attract the right investors and avoid legal lacuna. The DAWN Director General Seye Oyeleye said the best time for Southwest to build its rail system and power infrastructures was in 1958, stressing that the next best time to do it was now.
With estimated 45 million population, over 200 manufacturing industries, and huge trade and commercial activities which account for 37 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Oyeleye said the region was in the best position to set the pace for others. He pointed out that the region equally needs to prepare for the huge opportunities which the road being constructed by the African Development Bank which will connect about five West African countries and connects Lagos, will bring to the Southwest region.
According to him, if the region fails to build its power and transportation sectors, the manufacturing companies can decide to move their production to neighbouring West African countries and begin to export their products to Nigeria which has the market.
That, he explained, will lead to job, tax and other losses for Nigeria, especially the Southwest region.