WorldStage Newsonline– Ogun State has moved from 35th place on Nigeria’s subnational Doing Business Index to the fifth place since 2011 and has announced the aspiration to move to the 1st.
Part of the revelations at the 4th Ogun State Investors Forum in Abeokuta on Tuesday was the disclosure that a significant portion of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) that came to Nigeria between 2016 and 2017 ended up in Ogun State.
Specifically, the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun confirmed that his state attracted 148 new industries that invested between a minimum of $200 million and in excess of $2 billion in the past seven years.
Among several industrial facilities that opened in the state in recent years include the Petrolex project, the largest petroleum tank farm in Nigeria which includes a refinery in its plan was opened in December 2017; a new Nestle factory and the Belloxi Biscuit factory was commissioned in February this year.
In his address at the forum with the theme “Consolidating the Gains and Accelerating Growth”, Amosun noted that the State Government had improved the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, saying, “No investment can flourish in an unsecure environment. We made significant investments in our security infrastructure and architecture, and built strong collaborations with the security services, so as to guarantee the security of lives and property.”
He further noted that his government had entered into a partnership with a private firm to develop the Lisabi Independent Power Project in Abeokuta, saying, “This 12 megawatts power plant has been completed and is ready for commissioning. We have also signed MoUs with eight private power providers for the establishment of a total of 314 megawatts IPP in different parts of our State.”
He assured existing and prospective investors of the safety of their investments in the state, adding that improved approaches had been adopted by the government to consolidate the gains of the last few years.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo in his submission at the forum pledged the Federal Government assistance for the state to attain its full potential.
He drew attention to the strong similarities between ambitions at the federal level, and those of Ogun State; in terms of the commitment to raising domestic revenues, attracting investment, and the emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, industrialisation and technology, saying, “Ogun’s claim to the title of ‘the Industrial Hub of Nigeria’ is more than mere rhetoric.”
He acknowledged that in the past 18 months, Ogun State had made giant leaps in agriculture and had advanced boldly to take on the whole value chain, especially with rice, from farm to market.
“Reforms championed by the State Government have touched everything from soft infrastructure – land acquisition, construction permits, and business registration to hard infrastructure – an ambitious programme of road upgrades across the State,” he said.
He expressed hope of a brighter future going by some key federal projects which he said the state will benefit from.
Among them, he said was the ongoing construction of a new standard gauge railway line that will run from the Ports Complex in Lagos, through Ogun State, to Ibadan – one of the terminal sections of a network that will run over a thousand kilometres across the country.
He said the Federal Government was also creating an inland terminal at the Railway station at Ilugun on the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge rail route. Illugun is between Ogun and Oyo states, about 150km from Apapa.
Moreover, he said the GE led consortium through the APM Terminal was providing the investment and they expected that the project will take ten weeks.
“This will be used to move freight from Apapa Port to Illugun and importers will take their freight from there and same for exporters. This will de-congest Apapa port and bring more opportunities to this axis,” he said.
The state, he said was also in to benefit from the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, one of the busiest highways in the country, saying, the contractors were back to site with hope for a quick completion of the project.
“These two transport projects will further bolster Ogun’s special standing as Nigeria’s “gateway” state and no doubt attract even greater investment – and migration – to the State,” he said.
“Ogun’s status as home to the largest concentration of tertiary institutions in Nigeria is also a pointer to the size of its potential for youth-driven innovation. One of the practical ways by which the State Government can help unleash this potential is implementing policies that will attract private sector investment into the rollout of broadband across the State. You can be assured that high-speed Internet will be a game-changing proposition for Ogun State’s technology ambitions.
“It is unlikely that any administration since the birth of the State has developed infrastructure as rapidly and as sure-footedly as the Amosun administration, the Governor and his team certainly deserve the loudest commendation.”
He encouraged the Governor and his administration to remain focus in their determination to develop the state, saying, “no room to relent in the efforts to fast-track the growth and development of the State.
“The successes recorded so far by your ‘Mission to Rebuild Ogun State’ ought to inspire even more ambitious reforms now and into the future. The reward for hard work they say is more work.”
He also advised the state not lose sight of its greatest assets which he said were its proximity to both Lagos State and the Republic of Benin.
“This proximity between both states and the fact that they will significantly affect each other for good or for ill in the years to come ought to be the starting point for more deliberate economic cooperation between the two States,” he said.
“The closeness to Benin Republic means that Ogun is a potential trade gateway to West Africa and the rest of the continent. This is one potential that must be exploited. So, we must see a sub-regional meeting, a sub-regional summit between Lagos, Benin Republic and Ogun State. This is the kind of collaboration and cooperation that will take us to the destination that we set for ourselves.
“I am pleased to note that the State government has already begun to prepare for a future in which it will be the norm for people to live in Abeokuta or anywhere in Ogun State and commute daily to Lagos for work.”
On the part of the Federal Government, he said it we will continue to do everything within its power to support every State in Nigeria to reach its full economic potential.
“It is gladdening to note that Ogun has been consistently enthusiastic in its reception of our hand of cooperation,” he said.