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As Amosun re-engineers Ogun for progress

By Rotimi Durojaiye

Only a few will deny that by May 2011, Ogun State was a shadow of the reputation it enjoyed during the second republic. Every infrastructure that gave happiness and good livelihood to the people had collapsed. There was general despondency which ushered in the ‘darkest period’ in the history of the state.

Ogun State, for all practical purposes, was, as at then, a classical example of a failed state.

That was the sordid and rancid background that ushered in the administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun on May 29, 2011. It was indeed a very hopeless case. There were heaps of arrears of unpaid salaries, grounded infrastructure and battered education industry and this was in addition to a highly demoralised work-force.

The roads were in complete ruin, industries were dead and at the point of burial, the taps were as dry and rusty as excavated pipes. Ogun State was in absolute terms, back to the dark ages.

But May 29, 2011 brought a wind of change. The

rhythm of the music changed with the advent of the of the Owu born chartered accountant, as Amosun took oath of office as the Executive Governor of Ogun State.

It is more than five years now and time has vindicated Amosun’s ability to captain the Gateway State. And now it can be said that like the biblical Moses, he had come on a divine mission to rebuild Ogun State.

On assumption of office, Amosun sought to prioritise the attraction of private capital to Ogun State to spur the ‘Mission to Rebuild’ agenda.

Ogun State had languished near the bottom of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index in the 2010 report but was ranked as one of the five most-improved states in the country in 2014 report of the global financial institution.

Ogun State has continued to reap maximum benefits from the enabling environment created for business growth by the Amosun administration. The State is now unarguably the most industrialised in Nigeria. According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun State Industrial Zone Ranked 1st in 2014, while new investment into Ogun in 2014 was valued at N514.87 billion, an increase from 2013 investment of N376.57 billion and total Investment stood at N691.77 billion (74%) by the end of 2014.

To further consolidate its position as Nigeria’s industrial hub, Governor Amosun recently, (July 19, 2016, to be precise), hosted members of the organized private sector to a breakfast meeting at the Government House, Oke-Igbein, Abeokuta.

The breakfast session, which was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, was well attended by captains of industries, bank executives, industrialists and literally all the major players in the Nigerian economy.

Indeed, it was a further confirmation of the place of Ogun State as the industrial headquarters of Nigeria.

Speaking during the interactive session, the Governor thanked members of the organized private sector for their contributions to the growth of Ogun State economy and urged them to do more.

Governor Amosun also seized the occasion to highlight the future plans of his administration in the area of infrastructural development, including railways, roads, schools and hospitals among others.

The governor also spoke about his administration’s efforts in the area of the provision of adequate

security for lives and properties, which he identified as necessary for any meaningful development.

The breakfast session was also an opportunity for the governor to get feedback from members of the organized private sector who took turns to commend the administration and seek clarifications where necessary.

The Governor who expressed happiness that Ogun State had moved from the 35th position in the state to the first five in the ranking of the best states to do business said this feat was achievable due to the healthy partnership that existed between the government and the private sectors, promised not to rest on his oars in putting more friendly-policies in place for businesses to thrive.

“With your support, we’ll improve and better the state’s economy so that other states can learn from and use Ogun State as a case study for growth and development and we would not relent on our part to put in place business-friendly policies”, the Governor disclosed, while calling for stronger collaboration from the investors.

Amosun therefore revealed that his administration is committed to transforming the state to a point where

Ogun State will practically feed, move, house and even cloth Lagos State to engender economic growth and drive the economy.

Governor Amosun also hinted that the state would be launching its “light-up project” by October 1, 2016 and the rail transportation project that will pass through Berger – Kara – Iperu – Sagamu – Odeda – Abeokuta – Ibadan will soon commence, saying these would further open the state up for development.

Some of the frontline personalities who attended the event included Asiwaju Solomon Onafowokan, (Chairman of Chellarams Plc); Mr. Tunde Lemo, (former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria); Mr. Folusho Phillips, (Chairman/CEO, Phillips Consulting Management Company); Chief Eric Umeofia, (CEO, Erisco Foods); Dr. Doyin Salami, (a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria); Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, (CEO, Airtel Nigeria); Mr. Segun Oloketuyi,(CEO, Wema Bank); Iyalode Alaba Lawson (foremost industrialist/educationist); Chief Gbolade Osibodu, (Chairman, Vigeo Group and Benin Electricity Distribution Company); Mr. Narendra Chulani, (Managing Director, ENGEE PET Limited); Chief Giwa Bisi Rodipe, (an advocate for private participation in forest conservation and

industrialisation), Mr. Ladi Balogun, (Managing Director, FCMB); Mr. Wale Adegbite, (Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Ogun State), and other famous captains of industries.

All the participants appreciated the state government’s innovation for organizing the meeting promising to contribute their quota to the development of the state especially, in the area of employment generation for the citizens.

While specially thanking the government for creating the enabling environment for their businesses to thrive, the investors appealed to the government to continue to create a platform that would allow for interaction with the private sector to fast rack development in the state.

Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, revealed that the meeting was designed to intimate the investors on the policies and initiatives of government in the face of the economic challenges to see what more could be done to improve the state’s economy.

The Amosun-led government in Ogun State has created an enabling environment for Investment to

thrive and improved on the investment climate, and thus make the State an investors’ destination of choice.

Major industries in the state include Larfarge Wapco Cement; Wemco Cold Steam Iron Steel factory; May and Baker Pharmaceutical Company; Shongai Plant; Procter and Gamble which is the largest single American investment in Nigeria, outside the Petroleum sector; Dangote and many others.

The talking point today is not about who is in Ogun State. Rather, it is about who is not in Ogun State.

Ogun State has again caught another big fish in its industrialisation drive with the berth of a plant of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in the State to make a total of 102 industries.

Governor Amosun while receiving the Managing Director of the company, Mr Adeola Adetunji, who paid him a courtesy call in his office, promised that his government would not relent in its effort to continue to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state.

“We as a state would continue to create the enabling environment for business to thrive with the provision of basic infrastructures like good roads, adequate

security and housing estates”, the Governor assured.

Amosun revealed that the coming of this plant into the state makes the number of industries and companies to have opened in the state 102 since the inception of his administration, disclosing that the company would be established at the Interchange Section of Abeokuta – Sagamu expressway.

The Governor urged the company to expedite action in mobilising human and financial resources towards ensuring a speedy completion of the new plant, adding that he is eager to commission the new plant as early as possible.

Amosun who praised the vision behind the establishment of the company was happy that another company is coming into the state to help in solving the problem of youth unemployment.

The state has continued to hold its investors’ forum despite the economic crunch. The third in the series was recently held on May 10 & 11, 2016. This has been a veritable platform for investors across all sectors of the nation’s economy to tap into the abundant resources that is prevalent in the State.

The just concluded edition which was tagged, ‘’Emerging Economic Power House,’’ dwelt extensively

on Agriculture, Environment and Transportation. The overwhelming advantage from all these fora includes, but not limited to, an opportunity to cross- fertilize ideas with the international community, multilateral agencies, industrialists, eminent personalities and experts from all walks of life.

A recent investigation by an economic intelligence magazine revealed that Ogun is one of the states with impressive Internally Generated Revenues (IGR).

This was further confirmed by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, as he lauded the Ogun State helmsman on IGR and transforming the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the Gateway State.

Fowler, who doubles as the Joint Tax Board (JTB) Chairman, commended Governor Amosun in Abeokuta on July 25, 2016, when he led 36 state chairmen of the State Boards of Internal Revenue (SBIRs) to Governor Amosun.

He said: “We have come to basically discuss the issue of revenue. We monitor the performance of every state and we appreciate the excellent revenue performance of Ogun State. Ogun State is number one.

It is on record that the state annual IGR grew by 50 percent in the year 2015, thereby making Ogun State to occupy the fourth position in performance collection rating of states and first in IGR growth.

“I therefore urge the service not to relent in IGR efforts and continue to work hard to justify the state government’s encouragement”.

In same vein, a recent regional interest on Nigeria’s foreign exchange google research released by Google Nigeria revealed that Ogun State leads with 100 percent, while Oyo followed with 32 percent, Rivers 17 percent, Ondo 17 percent, Delta 16 percent, Lagos 15 percent and Cross River 14 percent, respectively.

The significance of this is that, people are more concerned about foreign exchange transactions in Ogun State than any other state in Nigeria.

Experts say this might be due to the concentration of industries in Ogun State that need foreign exchange for raw materials.

The state has also conducted the business of government and reformed the structures of its service delivery to ensure that it is not only open for business but indeed friendly to business.

Amosun is ambitious, determined and forward looking in his developmental programmes and projects. He is focused on preparing the people and the state for the future.

His government is committed to sustaining a conducive environment for industries to thrive.

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