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Challenges Confronting Dapo Abiodun

State Governor Dapo Abiodun’s aide Femi Ogbonnikan examines how he is grappling with the challenges of development in the Gateway State.

In Ogun State the enthronement of a focused and qualitative governance is a priority. An attention is focused on economic prosperity. To this end, premium is placed on an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Be it manufacturing, banking, agriculture, commerce or tourism, Ogun state business environment has become a much-sought after. Day-in, day-out, it is one form of discussions and engagements with the governor and his crack economic team led by Chief Dapo Okuboyejo, (the Chief Economic Adviser to the governor), signing business transactions with the state government for a promising future of the Gateway state. Coming from the private sector and in adding chain values to the economy of the state, at shoring up its internally generated revenue (IGR) base, the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, means well and is poised to make a difference. He is not leaving any stone unturned. He is blazing the trail of excellence.

Leading the pack, Access Bank Plc is setting the pace. The bank, led by its Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Herbert Wigwe, disclosed of plans to construct a creative arts and entertainment village in the state. Not only that, it pledged to build an information and communications technology (ICT) software and content development hub in the state. According to Wigwe, while on a courtesy visit to the governor recently, said his organisation was looking at a sector that would sit on four major hubs. He added that Entertainment, Information Technology and Skills, Nollywood theatre Art and Music sector would be looked into.

“I am talking of a sector that will sits on four major hubs – first is entertainment, the second is IT and vocational skills, which will basically to ensure that several people from these great state and neighbouring states will be trained and given high quality power as far as intellectual content is concerned. The third has to do with Nollywood and the fourth has to do with music,” he said.

For its mainstay and the economic survival of the state through export, the government is partnering an Irish company for the production of dairy milk.

Global Diary Limited, the manufacturer of the Irish Dairy Milk, recently embarked on a visit to the governor on how best to explore and discuss the setting up of a manufacturing plant in the state.

In aid of the novel project, the governor, Abiodun, pledged the commitment of the administration to have a world class ranch that would be created through the Public Private Partnership. The ranch, according to him, is to ensure that the Kara market located at Isheri, in Ifo Local Government Area of the state, that is contiguous to Lagos State boundary is  given a facelift, which is going to be a rebrand of the convulated open cattle grazing or colony contention. He averred that the southwest governors have taken a definite position on the raging open cattle grazing and the decision is binding on all the concerned states in the region.

“I am glad of the opportunity the agricultural sector offers to the state. Agriculture, being one of the biggest pillars of his administration, could help boost the Internally Generated Revenue and also help reduce the rate of employment in the state.

“This administration would establish an investment promotion agency to drive the public private partnership agenda. The attention is also being paid to livestock, and hat the proximity of Ogun state to other states could help to make it the food basket of the nation.

Besides, another Chinese firm has indicated interest in investing in the agricultural sector of the state through the Public Private Partnership Programme.

A team of the African Development Bank (AfDB) recently embarked on a three-day visit to the state, where it met with the government on how to tap the business potentials in attracting core investors into the state.

Same also, while playing host to the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo recently, the governor solicited the collaboration of the council to foster the promotion of a seamless export of goods and services coming from the State.

He reaffirmed his administration’s plan to integrate into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s framework, which he said, was meant to ban the provision of foreign exchange for some listed food items.

Abiodun said that once foreign exchange is removed from food items like rice, maize and cassava, the local demand for the items would be stimulated, thereby helping to promote the local production of such items.

He noted that his administration would be  focused on producing cassava, rice and maize, with the believe that the focus  would help to stimulate the local economy as their won’t be foreign exchange.

He added that the state government would be engaging the Central Bank through its different programmes and also issue Certificate of Ownership (CoO) to the farmers in order to give legitimacy to their trade.

However, the Chief Executive Officer, Irish Diary Milk, Global, Samir Boudjada, noted that his organisation decided to choose the state because of its proximity to Lagos state on account of its strategic location, having passed all the required tests.

The governor said he would also engage the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission (DAWN) and involve Lagos and Oyo State governors that also share border towns with the Republic of Benin.

Abiodun, while expressing appreciation to the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) the Western Region, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, for ensuring that the waterways are free and devoid of piracy, smuggling and other forms of violent crimes, urged the FOC not to hesitate to bring to his notice issues that are germane to the security of the region.

In his own remarks, the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Ambassador Emmanuel Kayode Oguntuase, disclosed that his visit to the governor was to intimate him on the needs of the people in the oil-rich Island to let them feel the government’s presence, and stave off imminence of any attempt by the government of the Republic of Benin to lure the people and take over the Island because of the huge oil deposit.

Furthermore, in demonstration of the commitment of the state government towards ensuring every citizen have a sense of belonging, the governor has assured that the people of Yewaland that would not be short-changed in the scheme of things and declared that all sections of the state would be treated equally.

He made the assurance, while addressing the people at Owode Ketu, in Yewa South Local government Area of the State, after inspecting the State Hospital and Model School, located at Ilaro and the Ilaro-Owode road respectively.

He said that all the 20 local government areas in the state have been directed to forward the list of three priority roads to the State Government for urgent attention and further added that a primary Health Centre and primary school would be rehabilitated in each Ward across the State in a bid to provide quality health and education for the people.

The Governor who appreciated the people for their support during the last general elections, however expressed disappointment over the slow pace of construction work on the Ilaro-Owode road and wondered why  a road contract awarded by the immediate past administration about two years ago has not recorded appreciable progress.

He said the contractor handling the project has been summoned to a meeting in his office to explain why the project is slow, while he assured that the road would be completed soon, without any delay.

On the model school at Ilaro, the governor said his administration would take a holistic look at all the schools spread across the State with a view to converting some of them to vocational and technical training institutions.

In restoring confidence and trust in the quality of medical personnel the state-owned Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, churns out, especially as it relates to the physical structures and modern-day equipment. The governor, who upon his assumption of office as the fifth democratically elected governor, two weeks thereafter, made a surprise visit to the institution and expressed utter dismay at the deplorable state of the health facilities, has set up a nine-man panel chaired by Dr Yemi Onabowale, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Reddington Hospital, Lagos, to look into both the remote and immediate causes of the current challenges facing the institution.

The terms of reference of the panel, include the assessment of the operational modalities of the teaching hospital and as well, ascertain its compliance with acceptable standard for medical training, research and tertiary healthcare services.

Ogbonnikan is the media Consultant To The Ogun State Governor, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun, MFR.

“This is the ultimate state for us, the feedback is really positive and we are looking forward to being part of this private partnership and creating jobs in Nigeria.

“This is the gateway state close to Lagos and you know when you are sighting a factory, you need certain parameters, we need a seaport that we can export out our goods. As a result, Ogun state is strategically relevant to the business of this nature and we did not mistake, Ogun State has passed all the tests”, he said.

Also, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc has keyed into exploiting the business potential of the state.

The Group Managing Director of the bank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, commended the efforts of the governor for his giant stride in providing the basic infrastructures to stimulate business growth and development.

“His pedigree as a private sector player will inspire confidence in other private sector people to come. We trust you and we will do everything humanly possible to drive investment to Ogun State under your watch. We know you will protect investors and ensure profitability of ventures brought about to the Gateway State”, said Adeduntan.

Abiodun believes that the administration could live up to its vision of creating an enabling environment for public private partnership, that could lead to the economic prosperity of the state.

“If the state prospers, the people would also prosper”.

“We will take the issue of security very serious and this is where we are going to require your support and partnership. We can not say we want to increase the ranking of Ogun State on the global list of doing business index if there are kidnapping, abduction, armed robbery, cultism and other violent crimes all over the place. So, we need to have a peaceful and secured state and we are deeply committed to that”, said the governor.

The governor noted that his administration want to ensure adequate access to the state and also, will be able to move people between Ogun state and other states.

“Ogun state intends to make use of its proximity to other states and provide services that Lagos, Oyo, Osun Ondo and Ekiti states respectively needs

“We are also looking at constructing and rehabilitating roads that share border with neighbouring states. We would soon award the construction of the Ijebu Ode and Epe road.

“We are looking at how to immediately begin reconstruction of roads that are between us and the adjacent states. We are looking at parallel roads to the expressway, because we believe that, if we can increase the relative ease with which we move between Lagos and Ogun, people will be more likely inclined to live in Ogun and work in Lagos”, the governor stated.

Meanwhile, the governor has averred that the administration would not cede any part of the oil-rich Tongeji Island located in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state to its neighbouring Republic of Benin.

He expressed the determination of the administration to do all in its power to ensure it makes life meaningful for the citizens of the state living within the Island.

He made the position of the government known when he received in audience the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Ambassador Emmanuel Kayode Oguntuase and the Flag Officer Commanding Western Region(FOC), Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, the duo who visited him in his Okemosan office, Abeokuta recently.

The governor noted that the Island which had been on his administration’s radar because of its huge deposit of petroleum resources, is of huge interest to his administration.

Abiodun said the visit of the Ambassador would only make his administration to act even quicker than ever to ensure that the Republic of Benin that shares common boundary with the state does not take advantage of the Island located in the Ipokia Local Government area of the state. To accelerate the immediate commencement of work, he stated that his administration would immediately set up a team to visit the Island on a fact-finding mission to look into how and what could be done to assure the people of the area that the state government has not forgotten them.

To this end, it is said that the Federal Ministry of Petroleum has been informed of the huge interest of the state government in the Island where discussions have begun with investors on the way forward.

“It is a place where we do have valuable reserves and I have mentioned to the Federal Ministry of Petroleum that the Tongeji Island and Ogun Waterside are areas of interest to the state government and we have begun discussions with other potential investors to explore the partnership agreements under a Public Private Partnership and see what we can do, in terms of prospecting the opportunities that lay beneath the soil in Tongeji Island and Ogun Waterside,” he said.

He added that his administration would fast-track the process  to see other services that could be rendered to the people of the area and promised that he would take the issue up with the National Borders Commission

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