Governor Ibikunle Amosun
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State has taken steps to showcase the economic re-engineering of the state, Sheriff Balogun writes
To stabilise Ogun State’s finances and attract potential investors, the state government has taken drastic steps by engaging independent economists as well as accountants to review the financial position inherited from the previous government.
Not so long ago, when the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, took the oath of office he pledged that the state would in no time be at par with Lagos, its neighbouring state. One year after, the governor is leaving no stone unturned to make his pledge a reality, as he is taking the necessary steps to achieve the ambitious goal.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is at the forefront of championing this cause. Recently, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbola Ashiru, stated that industrialisation was one of the cardinal programmes of the administration.
According to him, as a matter of priority, the ministry was identifying with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in terms of financial, technical and training assistance.
According to him, the ministry is the bed-rock of industrial and commercial affairs in the state, adding that it is responsible for creating a favourable commercial and industrial climate through the implementation of policies and programmes geared towards promoting a private-sector driven economy.
Ashiru said it was therefore the state’s responsibility that a conducive business environment is created for business managers to drive economic development. He added that it was also the government’s responsibility to implement policies and programmes that would promote the growth of small and medium scale enterprises, thereby promoting indigenous entrepreneurship.
In line with the mission, the commissioner said the state was poised to propagate and support manufacturing for economic development of the state.
Ashiru disclosed that the administration had entered into a partnership with Bank of Industry (BoI) to establish N1 billion in counterpart funding to promote the rapid industrialisation of the state. Both parties, he said, contributed N500 million each to execute the N1billion Industrial Development Fund (Loan Scheme) for MSMEs in the state.
He said the objectives of the scheme included employment generation, wealth creation, and poverty alleviation through empowerment of MSMEs for the rapid industrialisation of the state.
The commissioner also stated that the loan facility was open to artisans, industrialists in processing and manufacturing, farmers’ cooperative societies, block makers, limited liability companies and unemployed graduates.
According to him, already, 13 cooperative societies, comprising 117 individuals, had received their cheques “and in the next few weeks others will be receiving their cheques including about 1,000 unemployed graduates. This is about industrial development and not about the national cake as some people would want to view it.”
Speaking further, Ashiru said the state government, through the ministry, has completed the reconstruction of the 700-metres access road to the industrial area at Onijanganjangan Km 9 on Abeokuta-Lagos Road. The road, he said, will open up the Technology Incubation Centre, Industrial Park and Industrial Services centre among other institutions.
He said plans were still underway to extend the road, which was reconstructed at a total cost of N45 million. He added that the step was in furtherance of the present administration's policy aimed at the rapid industrialisation of the state, with a view of making it the industrial hub of the West Africa coast.
Also, Ashiru said the development of state international markets was germane to the well being of the markets operators and promotion of commerce in the state. As regards this, he said the governor had done a lot to address the challenges confronting the traders. “Currently, Oba Lipede market, Kuto, Abeokuta and Olabisi Onabanjo International market, Ita-Osu are receiving attention,” he added.
He said two boreholes with overhead tanks had been provided to solve the persistent water shortage in the market, with the provision of a booster station to provide power for pumping water in the market.
There was also the provision and replacement of 60 functional toilets in the market to make the market environment conducive for use by the market operators, he added. He disclosed that the government has created better ventilation and illumination of the market, with clearing of refuse dumps in and around the market in order to create a healthy environment, as well as the provision of better security by out-sourcing the security operations of the market to a security consultant.
To further improve public-private sector partnerships in the state, the commissioner said the working visits to selected industrial establishments operating within the state, were embarked upon. The tour, which he said had so far covered over 30 companies, was to identify and possibly address problems affecting industrial harmony, adding that some identified challenges in the course of the tour were being looked into.
According to him, “I and my counterpart in the Ministry of Environment met with the representatives of industrial establishment/business outfits operating in Agbara Industrial Estate. We agreed on the need for a private-public arrangement for the maintenance and provision of basic infrastructure and security in the state.”
Similarly, the Commissioner for Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the stabilisation of the state’s finances, including the engagement of independent forensic accountants and economists to review the financial position inherited was carried out.
Also, she said robust assessment of the debt profile with a view to validating claims had resulted in significant savings to the state government. She revealed that the debt management committee has been established in compliance with global best practice, to ensure that the state continues to subscribe to the principles of prudent and sustainable debt management.
Adeosun said available low cost funds at single digit interest rates are accessible for specific interventions in the areas of agriculture, transportation and education. Furthermore, she said the financial situation in Ogun was stable and a sustainable financial model had been developed to enhance efficient financial management in the state.
The commissioner disclosed that recurrent obligations such as salaries, allowances and pensions are now met in full as and when due, adding that the impact of the implementation of the minimum wage has been absorbed, resulting in an improved government-workers relationship.
Adeosun further said that the financial credibility of the state government with the banking industry was restored by enhanced transparency and accountability.
Expenditure, she said, was strongly aligned to capital expenditure including the investment of N2.5 billion for the purchase of textbooks, N4.5 billion for various security equipment and world class armoured personnel carriers (APC), as well as the overhaul of the maintenance of the state’s road network.
Other capital investment has been made in the area of health, school premises, water and power generation, she added. Also, she said the assessment of debt and negotiation with creditors has resulted in significant savings to the state government, saying from the published figure of N49 billion, the review process identified total liabilities of about N87 billion.
According to her, the introduction of a financial concurrence report has resulted in continuous bench marking of prices resulting in enhanced efficiency in procurement and cost savings. Also the centralisation of treasury and payments has enabled the government minimise interest charges.
She revealed that internally generated revenue (IGR) increased from an average of N742 million per month to the current average of N1.8 billion. She added that the full automation of the revenue process through the deployment of ICT equipment, to allow for central monitoring and blockage of revenue leakages being generated by government agencies, has also been put in place.
On his part, Amosun reiterated that he would not relent in the pursuit of excellence and lofty ideals to deliver value to the well-meaning people of the state. “Hence this government is not joking with the matter of industrial prosperity of the state, which has other multiplier benefits, such as employment generation, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and the general well being of the Ogun people,” he said.
The governor, however, commended the private sector groups for their cooperation in his effort to rebuild the state and leave worthy legacies for generations yet unborn.