Communique Of The Inaugural Meeting Of Akoko Edo Forum
Akoko Edo Forum (AEF), a recently formed umbrella group of Akoko Edo sons and daughters in Nigeria and the diaspora, held its inaugural meeting on Saturday, September 4, 2021, thanks to the Zoom virtual technology platform. The meeting had notable Akoko Edo sons and daughters in the private and public sectors, including industry captains, professionals, academics, retired military officers and civil servants, political office holders, etc. The meeting provided the attendees' opportunity to discuss the core objectives of the Forum as a vehicle and the desire to support the developmental trajectory of the Akoko Edo Local Government Area (LGA). It is said to be the oldest local government in Nigeria but has the unenviable status as one of the least developed amongst the774 local government areas in the country.
The meeting commenced with a welcome address by Dr. Richard Bagudu. He gave insights into theformation and the need for an umbrella Akoko Edo group like AEF to help change the underdevelopment narrative of the oldest LGA in Nigeria. He emphasized that irrespective ofwhatever is responsible for the pathetic state of Akoko Edo, the Forum believes it is high time it is checked because, as the saying goes, "all evil requires to succeed is for all good men to do nothing." The "good people have woken up," he further stated. He solicited the support of all participants and other Akoko Edo sons and daughters wherever they might be to take the issue of changing AkokoEdo into a model LGA very seriously and urgently.
Mrs. Mary Opii introduced the Select Committee, which comprises six members working assiduously as the secretariat of AEF, considering the need to ensure active participation in the Forum. She said, "the Select Committee will moderate and collate suggestions in charting a path for developing Akoko-Edo and creating a platform for the people to hold their leaders across the board accountable." She introduced all members of the Select Committee and went further to name the nine committees earlier constituted to cover every sector of development, the chairmen, and the secretaries. Dr. Charles Jagun moderated the interactive session, while Mr. Ifedayo Udiani managed the virtual hosting for a hitch-free meeting. He explained in detail the activities of each of the committees along with the identified challenges. He suggested ways of working with other stakeholders to reverse thesad state of the LGA.
At the end of the inaugural meeting, AEF resolved that;
- Akoko Edo people through AEF have become active stakeholders in the affairs of the LGA andwill no longer allow the neglect and underdevelopment of the LGA to continue.
- Affirmed the Select Committee to act as the body's secretariat for the administration and externalcontacts with critical stakeholders with a functional operational office at Igarra.
- Adopted the "Working Document" as the foundation for the formulation of AEF. Akoko Edo Development blueprint to be used in charting AEF developing all sectors of the LGA
- Condemned the high level of insecurity, kidnapping, and infiltration of the LGA by herders and therecent shooting of Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Igarra. The Forum resolved to immediately raise funds to assist the wounded DPO.
- Empowered AEF Security Committee to develop a sustainable security plan for the LGA and liaise with Akoko Edo Vigilantes in helping to curb the activities of kidnappers and called on the Edo State Government to urgently add Akoko Edo Vigilantes into the Edo Vigilante Security Network. Also, AEF to key into Edo State's recent announcement to employ 10,000 people as vigilantes andequip same.
- Called on Edo State Government to enact the Anti-open grazing law as agreed by the Southern Governors.
- Work with neighboring states and LGAs to address the security challenges and called on our Royal Fathers to ensure herdsmen do not use their domains as settlement and the profiling of youths in the LGA to address the increasing acts of criminality in the area.
- Called for setting up a process for the establishment of Akoko Edo Trust Fund or Akoko Security Trust Fund to address the insecurity and under development in the LGA.
- Constitute a finance and fundraising committee to develop and implement a fundraising strategy for the Forum for sustainable funding of projects and operations.
- Work or partner with other groups, businesses, NGOs, agencies, and other stakeholders interested in developing the LGA.
- All elected and appointed political office holders should be asked to join the Forum and engage allelected representatives on the representation of the LGA.
- A quarterly or half-yearly virtual townhall is to be held with all elected representatives from Akoko Edo. Arrangement and modalities of the townhall to be perfected by the Select Committee.
For the Select Committee:
Mary Opii & Edith Aiyede