•Says his only sin was protecting host community’s interest
•Believes Dangote took business decisions of his own
James Sowole in Abeokuta
Former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, yesterday, challenged his successor, Dapo Abiodun, to come forward with facts on how his administration frustrated the setting up of the Dangote Refinery in the state before it was eventually relocated to Lagos State.
Reacting to a statement by the Abiodun administration in which he directly accused Amosun of frustrating the Dangote refinery project, which was inaugurated on Monday, the former governor in a statement titled: “RE: Olokola Free Trade Zone & Dangote Refinery: The Facts!” said, he had refrained from directly engaging and very rarely joined issues on any matter of policy undertaken by his government or the successor administration.
According to him, the logic is simple, because “even if one were to stand right before a 10-storey building, a congenital liar and unrepentant pessimist will still indulge in selective amnesia and see nothing.
“But, when lies and half truths are churned out so repeatedly and unashamedly, without being challenged, the innocent public may begin to reckon with such concoctions as the gospel truth. Hence, I am making this exception. It is my hope that this will be my final word on the Olokola Free Trade Zone and the Dangote Refinery Lagos relocation debacle.”
Telling his side of the story with facts, Amosun, in a statement from his
Media Office, and signed by by Bola Adeyemi, said, “Let me put it straight: The Olokola Free Trade Zone project was not solely owned by Ogun State. From its conception in 2007, it was a Joint Venture. The Federal Government of Nigeria owned the majority 51%, Ondo State Government (14.5%), Ogun State Government (14.5%), and strategic core investors (20%).
“Alhaji Aliko Dangote, according to the information availed us when we took office, subsequently bought, and took over the 20% equity of the core investors. Ogun State was a minority equity stakeholder only, without proprietary strength and capacity to take sole decisions on the Joint Venture enterprise.
“I am proud to put on record for posterity that the brouhaha and misconception about the true and full ownership of the project became confused for reasons of the proactive and investment-friendly disposition of our administration. Ogun State, under my leadership, went beyond and above duty and did all we could to ensure that the project saw the light of the day.
“As Governor at the time, I appointed two (2) carefully chosen stakeholders of Ogun East/Ogun Waterside Local Government extraction to represent Ogun State’s interests on the joint venture enterprise and advise the State.
“These were Dapo Abiodun (now Governor) and Mrs Kemi Adeosun, then Commissioner for Finance, who incidentally hailed from the host Community of the Olokola project. After Mrs. Adeosun was elevated and became a minister, another son of Ogun East, Lekan Onamusi, took charge and represented Ogun State on the Joint Venture.
“Based on the advice of our representatives on the project, we engaged the majority equity holder, FGN and our joint venture partner, Ondo State Government, who were very responsive and eager to have the project in Olokola Free Trade Zone. We also vigorously engaged Alhaji Aliko Dangote and did everything possible to make the enterprise take off.
“A total of 10,000 hectares of land was made available. As mere holder of 14.5% equity interest, it is most uncharitable for anyone to churn out lies that Ogun State was in a position to unilaterally frustrate the project or was responsible for the logjam. With respect to all sides, it accords more with logic to appreciate the fact that Alhaji Aliko Dangote took business decisions of his own in accordance with the goals of his business strategy and risk assessment.
“Our position was that, at the minimum, 500 hectares from the Ogun State portion be reserved for the host Community, Ogun Waterside, as against ceding the entire land of the Olokola Free Trade Zone. Indeed, at some point and at my instance, our revered Elders, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and Kabiyesi Awujale, Oba Sikiru Adetona were involved, where we all met to ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone.
“It is, therefore, interesting to read that the present Ogun State governor holds me responsible for allegedly scuttling the Olokola project. For the benefit of the good people of Ogun State, Nigerians and posterity, we challenge him, particularly as he was then the chairman appointed to oversee and ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone, to disclose with facts, where he or the Administration was remis, and which might have led to the project being moved away from Ogun State.
“The only thing I can recall that the government insisted on, was that, about 500 hectares must be set aside and protected for the benefit of our people in Ogun East, and in particular, the host community, Ogun Waterside. As Governor, I would never have knowingly let any opportunity slip past Ogun State and its people. I did my best to the satisfaction and conviction of my conscience.
“As I conclude, it is my hope that this intervention will give clarity to the vexed subject of the Olokola Free Trade Zone and the relocation of the Dangote Refinery controversy. Once again, I congratulate the Dangote group and Alhaji Aliko Dangote for the hard work, dedication, and commitment to the results that we all saw on Monday.”