The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission has called on the South-West governors to take advantage of the constitutional amendment laws that removed electricity and railway sectors from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list, to fast-track development of the region.
The commission noted that power and railway sectors were catalysts for economic growth and development, and there was a need for the governors in the region to properly utilise the opportunity.
The Director-General of the DAWN commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye, stated this at the second edition of the South West Investment Promotion Agencies’ Conference in Akure, Ondo State.
The conference which was organised by the Ondo State Investment Promotion Agency in partnership with the DAWN Commission, with the theme, ‘Powering South-West for productivity through increased investment in infrastructure’.
Representatives of all the state governments in all the six states of South West were in attendance, with focus on attracting investment for development of the energy sector and rail transportation.
Speaking, the DAWN DG explained that organisation of the conference was driven by the presidential assent to the recent constitutional amendment, which decentralised the electricity market.
The decentralisation allowed states across the country to generate, transmit and distribute electricity as well as move railway from exclusive legislative list to concurrent legislative list.
He said, “As a proactive region, the South West IPAs has created the platforms of this conference to engage critical stakeholders and sector experts in the two sectors to discuss the framework to harnessing the gains of this retail restructuring in Nigeria.
“Undoubtedly, power and railway transportation are catalysts for economic growth and development. Efficient rail transportation will facilitate movement of people and goods while self-sufficiency in power is a panacea for industrial development.
“These infrastructure attract investors since they engender profitable operations and reduction in overhead costs incurred on power and transportation.’’
Thus, the region requires deliberate efforts to accelerate investment in these sectors and to drive the region’s economic competitiveness and its recognition as a formidable economic bloc.”
Already, he said, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement had opened up the South West economy.
He said, “The ongoing road construction from Lagos to Abidjan further demonstrates that South West economy is open to both investment opportunities and stiff competition.
“With 40 million population and GDP of N67tn (about $305bn), South West Nigeria is a leading economy in Africa and should therefore position itself as a major investment destination in the continent.”
The Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, who declared the conference open, stated that greater access to power supply and a good transportation network would enhance involvement of private investors in the development trajectory of South-West Nigeria.
Represented by his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the governor said, “The energy sector and rail transportation will form the bedrock for the future development of the South-West.”
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency, Mr Gbenga Badejo, explained that, the conference had a unique purpose, to turn around South-West region of Nigeria to do better and make it the darling of Africa.