Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has reeled out mouth-watering incentives to potential investors to attract direct foreign investments into the Sunshine State.
Addressing members of the Diplomatic Community and Development Partners at a Dinner in Abuja, Arakunrin Akeredolu presented his administration’s 5 Cardinal Programmes.
“As a new governor full of vigor and ideas, I promised the people of Ondo State that our administration will focus on five (5) cardinal points that is sure to improve the lives and wellbeing of our people.
“These areas, for the purpose of emphasis are:
Job Creation for our youth and women through sustainable Agriculture, Entrepreneurship)
Massive Infrastructural Development (road networks for our farmers, our oil & gas potentials in the state.
Provision of functional Education and Technological growth; (Plans underway to establish a Technology village)
Provision of Accessible and Qualitative Health care and social service delivery
Rural Development and Community Extension services.
“These goals were birth out of the need to empower and improve the socioeconomic stance of our people and the state in general.”
Governor Akeredolu, who used the opportunity to categorically declare that changing the lives of the people of Ondo State “is a goal worthy of our best efforts”, equally gave assurances on several incentives, including tax holiday, access to land and legal frameworks to guarantee safety of investments in the state economy.
“One of the key components in economic development for any government is the creation of enabling environment for potential partners and investors.
“To this regard, we have progressed in the state assembly the bill on Fiscal Responsibility law, Procurement Law, Organic Public Finance Law and Audit laws.”
Several other creative initiatives to make Ondo State worth living by the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu administration highlighted on the occasion include the establishment of a N15 billion Ondo State Employment Trust Fund with its core focus on the stimulation of Micro Enterprises, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He explained that the government would be seeding the fund with N1 billion yearly while the strategy for co-founding would be from development banks In Nigeria, NGO’s, foundations and multilateral partners.
According to the governor, the trust fund, which will specifically target women-led startup businesses, food and agri-business, health related startup businesses, environment and energy businesses, will be managed by highly experienced fund managers with extensive MSME experience.
Arakunrin Akeredolu, who was meeting the diplomatic community collectively for the first time since his inauguration on 24th February, 2017 as Governor of Ondo State, effectively used the opportunity to convince his guests of his desire to make the sun of the Sunshine State shine brighter for the comfort of all residents in the state.
According to the governor, one of the salutary initiatives towards achieving this is the planned ‘Project Light-up Ondo’ with the application of small renewable energy technologies and captive IPP projects to power at least 60,000 households, especially in the riverine community in southern Ondo without grid connection.
While speaking on his government land initiatives that will unveil a scheme in partnership with development partners to empower around 20,000 youths and women in agribusiness in a bid to boost youth employment thereby drastically reducing the unemployment level in the state, the governor explained that efforts were being concentrated on harnessing available opportunities in agribusiness and processing in conjunction with interested partners and investors.
“There are ample potentials in markets in cassava processing as over 100 MT of cassava produced per annum are either being processed locally or being transported to neighbouring states for processing, which more often than not impact the development of the industry.”
Arakunrin Akeredolu did not forget to mention that Ondo State has the deepest and longest coastline in the West Africa subregion and one of such in the continent of Africa with various aquatic splendour to boost coast tourism and various fish species like sole snapper, croaker, barracuda, big eye grunter, catfish thereby making the riverine communities of the state “an unchartered territory that promises an exciting prospect for the fish farming” programme of the present administration to be used as veritable tool of diversifying the state economy.
Governor Akeredolu, who informed the august occasion of the preparedness of his administration to exploit to the fullest the inherent advantages of the Olokola Free Trade Zone (OKFTZ) project which had lingered over the years with the inability of successive governments to start-off the project which has among other potentials of being private sector led with a maximum of 40% government participation, announced that a nine-man technical committee has been constituted to reactivate the OKFTZ project.
“In addition to Oil and Gas, Ondo State boasts of possessing the second largest reserve of bitumen in the world. It is also endowed with large deposits of various solid minerals including Limestone in Okeluse Arimogija, Granite Kaolin, Silica Sand amongst other minerals.”
The governor, who observed that whilst attention over the years has been on Oil and Gas, revealed that this government is willing and ready to exploit the large bitumen reserve in a sustainable way by having it processed into powder.
“It is estimated that over 90% of the minerals in Ondo State are unexploited and unutilized. This gap points to the need to encourage Public – Private Partnership in these sectors,” he said.
On health care delivery, the governor said Ondo State Primary Health care Board won the Bill & Melinda Gate grant award as the best state in immunization at the Nigeria Immunization Leadership challenge that has led to a grant to start the revamping of the State Primary Health Care Centre cold chain initiative using Solar Direct Drive Refrigerators.
“We still seek partners to further develop it and our other health initiative such as maternal health, family planning, and supply chain to ensure no woman in Ondo state dies giving life.”
The Governor, who encouraged people to join in revolutionizing the state, promised on behalf his cabinet members to work his fingers to the bone to make Ondo State a better place to live in.
“Gone are the days of paying lip service to proper Governance. An African proverb says ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to get far, go together,” he declared.
In his welcome address an aide of the governor on Multilateral and Investment matters, Mr Temitopegsewe had presented Ondo State as entirely investment hub anxiously waiting for genuine investors.
In his presentation, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Development and Investment, Mr Boye Oyewunmi, said the over forty year old Ondo State had not been so fortunate to have a governor that has the passion to advance the development of the state as much as Arakunrin Okuwarotimi Akeredolu . He therefore urged the diplomats and investors rolling in.
The event was attended by Diplomats from the British High Commission, Australian High Commission, South African Embassy, United States of America, Swedish Embassy, German Embassy and Israeli Embassy also had in attendance Development Partners such as: World Bank, IMF, USAID, AFDB, ILO, AFD and UNDP. Investors like : Japan International Corporation Agency, GIZ, Teni & Tarri, FORSTER, PIND, MADE, Delta Afrik and PDF. World-class philanthropic organizations like: Clitton Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation with financial institutions like banks: Zenith, ACESS, Fidelity, SAO Capital and Nem Insurance, also made their way to the event, during which several of them promised to do business with Ondo State.
The office of the Vice- President, Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Isaac Adewole and representatives of Minister of Health, Agriculture, Finance, Budget and National Planning and Foreign Affairs all showed enthusiasm at the desire to help jump-start the economy of Ondo State.
The dinner, which was spiced up by the Award Winning Cultural Troupe of Ondo State, was applauded by all participants who were called upon by another aide of the governor on Multilateral and Investment Matters, Mr Ayo Sotinrin to come up to translate their expressed enthusiasm to a productive investment in the state .
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, with his amiable wife and the deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, led the state delegation which include the Secretary to the State Government, the Head of Service, the Chief of Staff, Chairman OSOPADEC, Senior Special Assistants and some Permanent Secretaries, to the first Diplomatic Dinner hosted by Ondo State.