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FOSTERING INTER-STATE SOCIO-ECONOMIC UNION IN NIGERIA: THE LAGOS STATE EXAMPLE

Ayo Afuwape

The bedrock of a strategy that can productively engage the world’s population in assuming responsibility for its collective destiny must be the consciousness of the oneness of humankind. This can come in the form of the adversarial structure of civil government or in a non-antagonistic competitive spirit for economic prosperity, being the mainspring of human interaction.

Currently, Israel continues to help the United States deal with traditional security threats. The two countries share intelligence on terrorism, nuclear proliferation as well as Middle East politics. Israel’s military experiences have shaped the United States’ approach to counterterrorism and homeland security. The two governments work together to develop sophisticated military technology.

The U.S.-Israeli alliance has paved way for the two countries to cooperate on far more than just traditional security issues. So today, Israeli civilian technological innovations are helping the United States maintain its economic competitiveness, promote sustainable development and address a range of non-military security challenges. So, the bilateral relationship is based on steadily increasing security and economic interests and not just shared values.

In our clime, building on seemingly inter-state bilateral relationship for economic prosperity in some key areas is very key and would engender an all-round transformation of the country, reduce incidences of migration basically because of the perceived prosperity of one State to the other.

In Nigeria, there is no single State that is not blessed in terms of nature’s gifts. This makes all States in the country indispensable to the other, thereby underscoring the need for social and economic integration the more.

Consequently, it is vital that each state taps into the aspect of maximising its potentials and nature’s gift for economic upturn to fill the vacuum left by others. For example, some states are blessed with large expanse of land and are agriculturally viable, some gifted in oil and commerce while others are aquatically blessed. Some others are rich in human resources.

Presently, Lagos State is leveraging more on the prospects of inter-state bilateral relationship with the aim of expanding the prosperity of the State while also boosting the revenue of other States. Lagos is Nigeria’s economic focal point, generating a significant portion of the country’s GDP. Most commercial and financial businesses are carried out in the central business district situated in the State. Lagos is where most of the country’s commercial banks, financial institutions, and major corporations are headquartered.

Currently, n Nigeria, there are renewed calls for government to diversify the economy. Indeed, many are clamouring for the resuscitation of our ailing agricultural sector as well as other non-oil sectors. Recently, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun charged state governments to explore available sources of revenue generation in their states to avoid over dependence on the federal government.

Thus, in the midst of its perceived prosperity, Lagos is still inventing new sources of wealth. Despite recent discovery of oil in the State, the State government is still not relenting in its drive to make the State a haven for investors.

Presently, three of such moves are noticeable. First is partnership with the Kebbi State government in commodity value chain production like rice, wheat, groundnut, sorghum and livestock. Second is partnership with Niger State government for the development of agricultural commodity value chain. Third is the acquisition of lands in some states for agricultural purposes.

Economic growth and development, no doubt, accelerates technological innovation and human capital development. But a growing number of studies and research works have proven that geographical proximity, cultural diversity, political affiliations among other factors also play key roles in economic growth and infrastructural transformation.

When considering the gains of proximity with Lagos State, no States in the country stands a better chance of tapping into the prosperity of Lagos than Ogun State. Regrettably, Ogun State, over the years, is yet to adequately explore the benefits of its proximity to the Centre of Excellence, share from its cultural dexterity and language and above all, maximize the gains of the APC’s broom revolution as a way of making the entire process of economic integration seamlessly achievable.

Ogun State occupies a unique position in the economic and geographical map of the country with its GDP contribution to the nation’s economy put at US $10,470 making it the 9th highest contributor of Nigeria’s GDP.

Specifically, the neighbouring towns to Lagos from Berger end of the metropolis, Sango and its environs along Lagos-Old-Abeokuta road often referred to as ‘New Lagos’ because of their proximity to Lagos are worst hit in terms of underdevelopment. Expectedly, one would logically assume that the closeness of these towns along Mowe-Ibafo corridor in Obafemi-Owode Local Government and some other towns within Ifo Local Government and Ado-Odo LGA to the country’s Centre of Excellence would imply boost rapid development within these axes. Sadly, the reverse seems to be the case.

Some towns in this category have been in total darkness for over ten years, while a host of others had never had a tiled road for decades. Many go as far as Lagos State for healthcare services and to access other basic social amenities.

Under-development in Nigeria is occasioned by factors such as poor and visionless leadership, political instability, corruption, power failure amongst others. The result is gloom, despair and frustration among the citizenry. This trend, if not urgently checked might jeopardise democracy as well as the peace and progress of the country.

This is an awakening call to Ogun State Government to explore the political and economic benefits of its closeness with Lagos. This could be done through inter-state partnership that would translate into quick development of popular ‘New Lagos’ communities. Considering the inherent economic benefits accruable to Ogun state from such initiative, it is imperative that the state government gives it a topmost priority.

Ogun State is presently home to thousands of people working in Lagos and in a way; this reduces the burden of accommodation that could have mounted on Lagos. Beyond the geographical proximity between the two States, the cultural, historical, ideological similarities, competitive economic linkages, and the common language should be also be tapped into for effective socio-economic integration.

Similar and productive partnership like this should continually be explored by all state governments to foster rapid socio-economic development across the country.

Afuwape is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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