For the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Thursday, November 29, 2018 was significant. It marked his seven and a half years in the saddle of the leadership of Ogun State.
While speaking with newsmen, Amosun, in a subdued emotion, reflected on the seven and a half years’ journey. He knew his days as governor would soon be over.
The atmosphere is perfumed with politics but Amosun is consumed with passion for development.
He spent the day inspecting some legacy projects in company of some investors, including Chief Tayo Amusan of the popular Shoprite, who told newsmen how the governor mounted pressure on him to come and invest in his home state. Amosun often calls up on phone ‘sons of the soil’ to come home and invest. A massive state-of-the-art specialist General Hospital is under construction just like the first-class Judiciary Complex.
If Ambassador Chris Cooter, then Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, had accompanied us as we moved from one construction site to the other on Thursday, he would have recalled his memorable words on April 14, 2013: “The Governor has been emphasizing that his administration is very particular about hard work… I look at the construction going on, definitely, I am impressed. It is going to transform the state, no doubt. Whether it is canal, the road network, health or education, clearly, I can see a demonstration of the ‘can do attitude’. I have not been to a state where people are working quite as hard as this one, and I have been in most of them now…”
Today, there is Shoprite in Ota while that of the City Centre in Abeokuta is under construction (more about the City Centre in the future). Over 700 companies have berthed in Ogun in the last seven and a half years. Nearly half of these are hundreds of millions of dollars investments, generating massive direct and indirect employment.
Ogun State under Amosun attained its peak in recent memory when it attracted 70 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment in the manufacturing sector in Nigeria into the state, according to the report of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria. Ogun State did not become the industrial hub of Nigeria because of its proximity to Lagos. Ogun has always shared borders with Lagos and Republic of Benin for ages. How come the state suddenly became the investors’ destination of choice?
Yes, “A loss for Lagos is Ogun’s gain” as Financial Times puts it. That’s true in terms of limited land in Lagos. But companies do no go to any place without first counting the cost. Will my business be safe and secure? Is there a market for my products? What about infrastructure, tax regime, ease of doing business in general?
Amosun did not fold his arms such that it is the proximity to Lagos that turned Ogun to investors’ destination of choice.
He fought insecurity to standstill in 2012. Businesses, as we know, are cowards. Companies now run shift rather than closing before nightfall as a result of insecurity, as was the case before the current government was inaugurated.
At the first Ogun State Investors’ Forum in 2012, the governor announced various rebates and ease of land acquisition for genuine investors.
It’s now easy to set up a business in Ogun. This much led to a global recognition for the state by the World Bank. The establishment of One-Stop-Shop seems to cap the efforts at marketing Ogun State to investors who detest having to move from one government agency to the other – endlessly – in order to establish their businesses.
Much has been written on the huge investment of the government in infrastructure – road, power, housing, etc.
The Biennial Investors’ Forum and Annual Breakfast Meeting with Investors have played a major role in the industrial leap of the state, transforming it to the current centre of attraction for investments. As it happens, the 2016 piece, “Industrialists’ Vote of Confidence in Ogun State” seems to have become prophetic.
“It was the Breakfast Meeting with the Organised Private Sector. For days I remained in thrall to this wonder. It was simply mind-boggling, exhilarating. Even Managing Directors of some blue chip companies almost could not secure seats. I am not a prophet. Indeed, you do not need any power of prognosis or gift of clairvoyance to know that the breakfast event reveals that Ogun State will sooner than later industrially attain a larger than life image and bulge at the seams by the sheer number of industries that will compete for space in its domains.”
Politics is in the air, one must reckon. But even the worst political enemy of Amosun believes he has played his allotted part in the advancement of the state and will bow out of office in six months’ time holding his head high.
–––Soyombo, media aide to Ogun State governor, sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org.