Policy Recommendations for North West Regional Integration
Apart from the tenets of good governance lacking in the region, the region also lacks a comprehensive plan for growth and development even in agriculture where all States in the region do collaborate. In other words, the North West needs a Regional Integration Framework that goes beyond agriculture and incorporates all other sectors of the regional economy. Such framework must be focused on exploiting whatever synergies may exist to promote food security in terms of agriculture but at the same time look to more substantial sources of revenue that will enable the region take care of the multiplicity of problems already identified for growth and development. Such regional integration must improve based on the experiences of BRACED and DAWN and must also attend to the following:
1. For the success of the regional group, there is the need for peace. The conflicts (ethno-religious) which have affected transport networks, communications and other basic infrastructure need to be peacefully resolved.
2. Ways must be found to involve the private sector and Civil Society Organizations (the third sector) in the integration process. It should not be expected that all private sector groups will favor regional integration. The participation of different groups including NGOs, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) as well as Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) should be encouraged as this can help to foster peace and reduce conflicts.
3. Given the disparities in economic weight that exist between members States, new policy instruments to deal with the fears of economic polarization must be found, for example, multispeed arrangements, compensation schemes, regional investment banks, or structural solidarity funds.
4. Dispute settlement mechanisms need to be strengthened and ways to ensure policy credibility must be put in place. Investors need to have confidence that integration measures will not be reversed and that barriers to regional markets will not be re-instituted overnight.
5. The Regional Integration Framework must institute a standard mechanism for accountability. Integration can only take place where there exist upright leaders who are accountable to the people. The region must feel as must institute such mechanisms to be able to manage the huge human and agricultural potentials as well as natural resources.
6. Development decisions must involve the people. It is when the people are involved in decisions affecting them, that their need can be met. Regional challenges came from within and thus it is the people that own the entire development process. The region can develop further if governments enable a qualitative improvement in their citizens’ life. This means that a suitable business climate that facilitates better production and more trade and investment must be established.” Unfortunately, this is yet to happen in the North-West geo political zone.
7. The region and its member states single-mindedly project and pursue their strategies for the enhancement of the quality of life and the dignity of their people. Let the region quarry into their resources to extract the material required for their very existence, material that they can exchange among one another based on their spatial developmental advantages. The region should share among them, areas of specialization, substituting strength for the weakness of their partners, expertise for deficiencies in one member or the other while leaders should be ready to deliver good governance to the people.
8. For the North West Regional Commission to be effective, it must be unbundled from the clutches of the Governors. It must not be political. It must be neutral in the affairs of member states though a benchmark of good governance must be set. It should be managed by tested and patriotic professionals and technocrats drawn from the member states who may earn token wages if they earn at all. It must be accountable. Personal aggrandizement should not be welcome in the Commission. Above all, the welfare of the people in the zone should be of paramount interest to the Commission.
Download the complete Research report on “Regional Development in the NorthWest Zone of Nigeria: A Situational Analysis for Intervention” from the link below: