By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has charged governors of the South-South to foster regional economic integration through massive investments infrastructure.
Omo-Agege gave the charge on Thursday in his goodwill message at the second annual general meeting of the Forum of South-South Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture(FOSSCCIMA) held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Godwin Anaughe, the Deputy Senate President encouraged governors of the region to build superhighways and railways to link the BRACED states.
He also asked the governors to invest in the power sector and gas, adding that such infrastructure and facilities will will ginger economic activities, growth and enterprise in the region.
His words, ”It is against this backdrop that I find the theme for this year’s Lecture “Economic Integration of the South-South Region – A panacea for Economic Growth” apt and timely.
”One important lesson of the COVID-19 debacle is that it can no longer be business as usual. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global economic downturn have also accentuated the importance of economic integration as engines of growth and development, in many economies of the world.
”For the South-South region, the need for economic growth calls for economic integration that would help set the entire region on a more prosperous growth path. I wish to make it very clear, however, that the economic integration of the South-South is not a short term answer to the current socio-economic problems of the region.
”Rather, it is the long-term answer to the question of South-South economic growth, diversification, competitiveness, enterprise and jobs.
Omo-Agege, who hailed the coming together of the six States of the region to form BRACED some back, however, said the idea behind it’s formation has not been achieved due lack to commitment.
”The quest for regional economic integration in the South-South is not new. Over a decade ago, the governors of the region floated the same idea and sought to forge closer economic cooperation and integration among the six states of the South-South geo-political zone namely Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Edo and Delta (BRACED).
”The BRACED states sought to deepen their collaboration in the areas of education, human capacity development, information and communication technology, infrastructure development, agriculture and investment.
”Regrettably however, this bold attempt at regional economic integration aimed at pooling of resources together, stimulating production, trade and investment which would have alleviated poverty failed as the BRACED Commission established to drive the process remained ineffective”, he said.
The highpoint of the occasion was the investiture of Dr. Okon Emah as the new president of FOSSCCIMA).
The new FOSSCCIMA president in his acceptance speech called for the diversification of the region’s economy as crude oil revenue could no longer sustain the region.
Emah said the region should revert to tapping the agricultural potentials in oil palm, kernel, mineral resources and the development of its seaports.