#StarsConnect! DAWN Commission: Poised for Sustainable Development of Western Nigeria- Seye Oyeleye
You are welcome to Stars Connect Network, a Subsidiary of Jetheights Services. Stars Connect network is a programme that brings together entrepreneurs, business owners, inspirational speakers, pastors, and leaders in the society, upcoming artistes, NGOs, people giving back to the society and the world at large. We conduct interview sessions to find out everything we can about their journey to stardom, we hope to bring together stars who can be of benefit to one another and who can synergize with Jetheights in other to impact the community. Once again you are welcome to Stars Connect.
Can we meet you sir?
Seye Oyeleye: I am Oluseye Oyeleye. I am the Coordinating Head, Home Land and Diaspora Affairs for DAWN Commission here in Ibadan. DAWN commission is the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria based in Ibadan. It was a Commission set up by the six South West States to midwife their working together. That’s just it in a nut shell. So, the six Southwest States of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti.
Olusayo Afolabi welcoming Seye Oyeleye of DAWN Commission to Jetheights Services
When was DAWN Commission established?
Seye Oyeleye: The Commission was established in July, 2013. There have been lots of undercurrents before then, but came on board officially in July, 2013 when the six governors came down to officially launch the Commission.
What is the vision of DAWN Commission?
Seye Oyeleye: The vision of DAWN commission is for the southwest region to become the desired place for business, preferred choice to live and that when anyone comes to Nigeria for the first time, the place you want to invest is the southwest region. In a nut shell, we say that for the southwest region to become the place of choice for people to visit, to live, to work, and to invest.
Can we liken it to the South West Australian Model?
Seye Oyeleye: Basically, we normally say that when you hear the word ‘development’, anywhere in the world, it is the same. It has no colour, no language. Development is development. So we have modelled ourselves with slight variations along the lines of South West Australia and the East Poland Commission. These are all Commissions set up to engender the development in their regions.
Mr. Seye Oyeleye at StarsConeect
What has been their success rate so far?
Seye Oyeleye: If you look at South West Australia for example, you will see that they have been able to attract a lot of investments by modelling themselves as a progressive region of Australia. This is what we are trying to do here in South West as well at DAWN Commission, to tell the world that South Western Nigeria is open for business, making it more attractive in every sense of it: business, living, tourism. We cannot have a one size fits all development plan which is what we are practising in Nigeria at the moment. So what DAWN Commission is trying to move forward is the fact that development has to be on a regional bases for it to be effective. ATM, what the nation is trying to do is a top down development, whereas it should be upward development. So DAWN Commission is positioned to do that for the South West region.
The South West region is very open to development. How passionate are the Yoruba people in their quest for development, or is it just word of mouth?
Seye Oyeleye: No, it isn’t. in fact, over the years, the Yorubas have undoubtedly made their marks in the world and are still making what we call unparalleled contributions to the development of Western Nigeria in diverse areas such as in business, in the private sector, public service, mass media, education, academia, entertainment industry, even the professions, we’ve been all over. So the Yoruba people can always be counted predominantly in the vanguard of those advocating for development. That is why when you see those who are clamouring for Yoruba National Conference to restructure the country, the political architecture of the country, it is the Yoruba people. What we are saying in essence is that, what we have at the moment is not the best; we can do a lot better. And we have identified that the reason we are not doing better is because we are trying to do everything from the top, everything is coming from Abuja. So, we are basically awakening the spirit of the people of this region using the analogy of the broom; when a broom stick is used alone, it’s not as efficient as when used as a bunch. The broom sticks are stronger as a unified force. We are called Federal republic of Nigeria, but we are neither federal nor a republic, we are just a unitary state where the orders are passed from Abuja. That is why we have 28 states today that cannot pay salaries because they all look up to Abuja. That is why DAWN Commission has been set up to make sure that development is brought closer to the people of the region. It isn’t a successionist/secessionist agenda. As I said earlier, development has the same language: provide basic health, eradicate poverty, good education. That is development.
Mr. Seye Oyeleye, DAWN Commission with Mr. Ayo Alex Alao, CEO Jetheights Services
In terms of capacity and resources, can we say DAWN Commission is poised for this responsibility of sustainable development?
Seye Oyeleye: To that I will say a resounding yes. The governors of this region are very committed to the development in this region. They have expressed this commitment in different areas and dimensions. The first meeting they had regarding regional development agenda was held in Ekiti state when the present Minister for Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi was still the Governor. All the 6 States Governors expressed their desire to work together as a region and to achieve their development plan and programme. It was at that meeting that they made up their minds to fulfil this desire. There was also a follow up meeting in Abeokuta where they all agreed that they would put together a committee that each state will send members into that committee. In May 2012, the technical committee was inaugurated and at that place they all agreed that for us to make this thing work, let us set up a commission that will think for the six sates jointly because individual governors will only think of their states. When the thinker committee met, they highlighted on the areas to focus on to be able to give life to this agenda. They went round all the states of the region, met with all six governors, had different technical sessions and came out with a final implementation document which is what is guiding the commission today.
Mr. Seye Oyeleye in a chat with Mr. Ayo Alex Alao, CEO Jetheights Services
Can you tell us about the commission’s roadmap, relating it with OneBloc?
Seye Oyeleye: The OneBloc document is basically an advancement of the roadmap itself. We are seeing the 6 states as one, operating as one, talking as one, when we are trying to attract development, we are attracting it as a single bloc, who ever want to come and talk to us sees us as one. So the six states are not going to be seen individually but as one. By presenting ourselves to the world as onebloc it has started gaining traction even in the international circles. Three weeks ago we had a conference with World Bank on the development corridors, basically World Bank engaged DAWN commission because it was easier for them to reach six states at once through the commission. The six states were presented as a bloc. To attract investors into the region, we want to present the six states as OneBloc. It doesn’t remove the individuality of states but we are there to say that this is Onebloc and we can give sound advice to investors that want to do business in any of the states in the region. So the Commission does all research needed for investors to also help them make sound business decisions.
On this development issue, can we trust the political leaders in these six States to chart this course, provide the right leadership and an enabling environment?
Seye Oyeleye: Oh yes! The good thing is the major thing that the six Governors of these States have done to the commission is giving it the convening powers. Convening powers means that if the commission needs to speak with these governors and stakeholders on any issue, it’s just a phone call away. They have given the commission the free hand and this is because they believe in development and they believe that their jobs will be easier if they can leverage together. The governors have realized the need to work together. For example, Lagos is building rails and Ogun state plans to connect, Oyo state likewise. So once these links are established, Ogun and Oyo residents can work in Lagos on a daily basis without having to live in Lagos.
Mr. Seye Oyeleye with Jetheights Staff
Talking about this regional development, Lagos states seems to stand out from the other five states. Is it because the Lagos state is a more serious government?
Seye Oyeleye: Don’t forget that Lagos State used to be the Capital of Nigeria so because of that a lot of people flocked to Lagos. Lagos became not only the political capital but the commercial capital. When the political capital was moved out to Abuja, they couldn’t move out the commercial capital. So over the years, Lagos has benefited from the fact that it is the commercial capital of Nigeria. People from various parts of the country after their education all move to Lagos. Over the years, Lagos has successfully tried to manage that influx. They’ve had development plans which they’ve stuck to. The have also benefited from continuity of process over the last fifteen sixteen years. One of the banes of development today is lack of continuity. Lagos has immunity to such haphazard forms of governments and that has helped them in developing their IGR, they earn a lot of money. 80% of the IGR of South West is from Lagos. So, Lagos is benefiting from the fact that it was the former commercial and administrative capital. Lagos has successfully sustained that growth. What we are now trying to do is to make sure that the other five states leverage on Lagos. You cannot have one rich state in the midst of five poor states. As much as possible, the other five states should look into and latch on to Lagos
For the common Yoruba people who are not working at the commission, how can we contribute our quota to this development?
Seye Oyeleye: We don’t want the people to think it all intellectual. No. The word is development. Our office is at cocoa house in Ibadan. Our activities are geared towards development and we are focusing on areas like education, and everybody will feel the effect straightaway. We don’t do projects at DAWN, we are more of a think tank, and we craft and think through policies and submit to the government. Also we are organising programmes that will be open directly to the public. We run an open door office; anyone can walk in to our office and give us their suggestions. In fact, some of the best suggestions we’ve had were from people who just walked into our office. Some people even think it is a Yoruba office and we often ask them that is it only Yoruba people that live in southwest? The DAWN is for south west not just for Yorubas, because we have people from other regions that have made the southwest their homes and are thriving. DAWN would be taking to the grassroots through the policies that we are coming up and which are being implemented. For example, in the area of health, we are thinking of how we can have a regional health insurance policy whereby we can tell the market woman to contribute a token of 250 naira per month for health insurance. With that amount, she get basic healthcare in the nearest hospital. When these policies are coming on board, the people will start feeling the impact of what DAWN commission is doing.
How do people reach out to you?
Seye Oyeleye: facebook: seye oyeleye
Office address: 10th Floor, Cocoa House Ibadan.
Phone No: 08098004016
For more information about StarsConnect:
Phone No: 09050888890