Economic diversification tops agenda at Lagos-Kano Summit

Luqmon Balogun, Lagos

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Left to right: Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi during the Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit.

Effective collaboration among States has been described as one of the ways to engender robust national economic development and allow for further increase in productivity across the country.

This formed the discussion at the inaugural edition of Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit at Jubilee Chalet in Epe, Lagos State.

Declaring the Summit open, the Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Oshinbajo said that the two States have taken a giant stride to rework the economic template that can be used to open opportunities for the country to raise its economic status.

Strengthening polity
The Vice President, who highlighted the geographical importance of Lagos and Kano States to the Nigeria’s economic development, explained that government at all level must imbibe the spirit of collaboration in order to cushion the efforts of government policies aimed at strengthening the polity.

Professor Osinbajo stated that at least $2 billion would be required to revive the Lagos-Kano Rail Line as part of efforts to boost local and international trade along the Northern and Southern zones.

“It’s not out of place to say that by virtue of geographic importance whenever Lagos and Kano go, others follow.

“Lagos and Kano’s collaboration underscores the cornerstone of the Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan aimed at leveraging on synergy among States and between government and private sector.

“The strategic role of the government is of course to create an enabling environment for commerce beginning with the provision of infrastructure”.

He further said that, “For us, what this meant especially in the context of Lagos and Kano collaboration is the refurbishing of the narrow gauge Lagos to Kano Rail with a concession to General Electric who is proposing to invest almost $2 billion to ensure that the rail route is effective for movement of cargo from Apapa port to Kano.

“Similarly, we are investing in the Lagos to Kano standard gauge line, the Lagos Ibadan portion of that is expected to be ready by the end of this year. Also, we have budgeted N80billion for the development of special economic zones in the six geo-political zones of the country.”

He, however, restated government commitment to support all State governors who exhibit sense of collaboration with the government and promised that attention would be given to the resolutions emanated from the Summit.

The Host Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State expressed delight to have the two States coming together, after several moments of deliberations.

According to him, “We started the idea of collaboration with LakeRice and then it looks like a joke and along the line it caught everyone’s attention and the whole nation is now doing more of Agriculture.

“We believe strongly that with our collaboration with Kebbi State on LakeRice, then if we do the same with Kano it will be a beginning of new dawn to Nigeria’s economic development.

“Beyond regional integration, there is still national integration that is missing somewhere and if we would complement the efforts of the Nigerian government, we could be sending a stronger message to other States that there is a need for them to put resources together in order to reactivate and reenergize the economy of the nation.”

Governor Ambode urged stakeholders to bring up ideas that can move national economy to the global height.

“We want to share emerging investment ideas with the target audience and also engage states on the underutilize resources towards efficiency and prosperity.

“Moving our economic further will require thinking without the box, before we used to think outside the box, right now the message is that there is no box. Let us start thinking widely to send the message to do things differently, “Governor Ambode stated.

Comparative advantages
He stressed that with the current economic challenges facing the nation, there was no better time for States to begin to look beyond an oil driven economy and take advantage of their comparative advantages to engender economic growth.

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje expressed optimism on the future of the joint Summit as he noted that it would booster long lasting business linkages between the States and increase commercial and industrial activities and agro-allied exchange.

The Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi challenged the State governors to forged collaboration and explores the non-oil sector with a strong political will and institutional framework to develop Nigeria’s economy.

Other distinguished Nigerians who also graced the occasion include the Former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, Professor Pat Utomi, Founder , Centre for Values in Leadership, Aliko Dangote among others.

The theme of the joint Summit is “States Partnership As a Tool for Sustainable Economic Development”.

Sammie Idika