It is my pleasure to welcome you to Lagos House this evening on the occasion of the Western Nigerian Governors Forum. I am also very pleased that we all were able to honour the agreement we reached in Abeokuta during our last meeting that whenever the need arises we should be able to hold the meeting over two days instead of the customary one. I have no doubt in my mind that the agenda of this meeting, which I am certain you have all seen, justifies our gathering here today and tomorrow.
The theme of this meeting: Consolidating the Legacy of Regional Integration aptly captures the essence of our gathering. There is hardly any better time for the States in the Western Nigeria to pull together to fathom ways of tackling social and economic challenges facing our people individually and collectively.
During the last meeting in Abeokuta, we agreed that we would tenaciously pursue the food security of our people, within the general framework of human security. The need to ensure food security of Western Nigeria is an objective that resonates across the whole country and indeed across the world.
Only yesterday, His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari inaugurated the National Food Security Council. This is a timely initiative that seeks to timely address issues capable of creating food crisis in Nigeria.
In Abeokuta, we committed to greater cooperation in the production of rice and other food value chains in the region. This endeavor will not only complement food supply into the region from elsewhere but will also enhance the capacity of our farmers to produce what we need and also export to the world. Towards this end, we decided then to hold a Western Nigeria Agricultural Summit to be held in Ibadan soon.
Increased collaboration in agricultural activities is critical to sustaining the teeming population of Western Nigeria. Lagos State alone is over 23 million people and on record 85 people migrate into Lagos from other parts of Nigeria on hourly basis. The drive towards food security is therefore not only to ensure that Lagosians have enough to eat, but that the people of the entire Western Nigeria have enough to eat and export to other States and outside Nigeria.
The whole essence of food security of Western Nigeria is thus focused on our States maximizing their comparative advantages to guarantee increased food, jobs creation and the welfare of our people.
I therefore wish to seize this opportunity to thank you all for kindly acceding to our quest for land in your States to enable Lagos activate the 32 Ton per Hour Rice Mill we recently pursued. This mill, which is the largest of its kind in Nigeria for now, is capable of generating over 200,000 jobs across Western Nigeria and producing most of the rice need of the region and beyond.
The admittance of Lagos State into the Odua Investment family is indeed a significant mileage in our quest for economic integration of the Western Nigeria. It is our hope that working with all other members Lagos State will be able to help in catalyzing a momentous growth in the economic activities of Western Nigeria through, but not limited to, the instrumentality of Odua Investment Group. I also wish to use this opportunity to thank you all, my dear brothers, for kindly admitting Lagos into the fold.
The security challenges we face daily in the region, like elsewhere, is one that we should indeed collaborate on and seek an effective strategy of dealing with. I believe strongly that it is in the collectivity rather than individuality of action that a greater solution to commonly shared problems can be found.
Your Excellencies, we today stand on the threshold of history. Our business in government is mainly to provide jobs and security for our people. Our aim is to seek the collective welfare of our people.
In Lagos we have come to the realization that the advancement of Lagos State shall mean nothing unless it is in conjunction with the development of the whole of Western Nigeria. We believe that together we can achieve this ideal.
I welcome you all to Lagos State and hope that you will enjoy your stay here.
Itesiwaju ipinle Eko lo je wa logun.