Some years ago during my post graduate studies in the premier University of Ibadan, Department of Communication and Language Arts, I heard a story which remains with me till date about how to distinguish between growth and development. The class was Development Communication to be precise.
There was this very remote village in a State which the lecturer didn’t mention where the people suddenly discovered that the government was planning to build a school for their children. The villagers prostested against government’s move just as they insisted that all they needed was a motor park, not a school. They explained that with a motor park, their agricultural products would get to markets easily and there would be shared prosperity in the agrarian community which would afford them the resources to build school on their own and put other social infrastructure in place without government support.
Good enough, the government listened to their yearning and gave them a state-of-the-art motor park. Before long, the farmers became “big” in their vocations such that they were able to put necessary amenities such as school, pipe-borne water , among others in place.
One major undoing of Africa as a continent is that our government think for us which brings about growth. In an ideal society, government asks the people what they need, which results in development. Sometimes, our good moves and intentions may be anti-people, if the people are not consulted before taking a decision on their behalf. What is expected of a 21st century State is development which brings satisfaction to majority of the citizenry, not mere growth which are just physical changes without inner satisfaction on the part of the populace.
Few days ago, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun took a right step in a right direction as he had a breakfast meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to deliberate on their challenges and how to better surmount it. The event was held in Abeokuta, the State capital.
It is instructive to note that Ogun State remains the industrial capital of Nigeria as Governor Abiodun even mentioned at the meeting that there are over 5,000 industries in the State.This indicates that mulnationals, giant manufacturers and all sorts are domiciled in Ogun ahead of other States of the Federation. This meeting was another creative approach of the present administration to achieve overall development, which no doubt is a signpost of a 21st century State in the right direction.
Since it was meant to be a breakfast meeting, the captains of industries were treated to a delightful tea break before the commencement of the event. Afterward, the formal programme began with the Commissioner for Industries, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adebola Emmanuel Sofela, whose appointment resonated a beautiful intention of the Abiodun led government as he has been described as a round peg in a round hole.
Sofela, an investment banker and a Chartered Accountant, with over three decades wealth of experience in financial services,is a Fellow of some reputable professional bodies, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (FCIB), The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (FCTI) and the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (FCS).
He underscored that the operating environment of industrial organisations and prospective investors is a top priority of the present administration in Ogun State, assuring that the government will sustain its developmental policies and evolve new ones to fastrack economic growth and global competitiveness.
The Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun State Chapter, Chief George Onafowokan, acknowledged the position of the State as the best place for industries to thrive, imploring the government to put enablers in place for business to thrive much more.
According to him, ” Ogun State is the place to have our enabling factors. It is the capital of industries and Nigeria’s domestic direct investment. It is the best place for investment. We have a listening Governor whose passion is second to none. Government should work on the enablers that would help our businesses,” he said.
In their separate remarks, Rakesh Shah, Sohan Baght, Hadiza Sowemimo, Olasunkanmi Owoyemi, Akbar Alisheh, shared the need of their various industrial clusters with the Governor as they commended him for the breakfast meeting which afforded them the opportunity to table their request.
The highpoint of the meeting was Governor Abiodun’s response who assured that the breakfast meeting would be a quarterly affairs between the government and the organised private sector, saying that it would help to further identify the problems, profer solutions and measure performance.
Noting that the vision of the present administration must reflect the vantage position of the State, Prince Abiodun highlighted the efforts of the government on transportation master plan which gave birth to the massive road construction of over 500km across the three senatorisl districts as well as Agro Cargo Airport, in Iperu, Ikenne Local Government Area, which has become the cynosure of all eyes.
He disclosed that the Ogun State Government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have concluded plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the construction of the Olokola Deep Seaport located in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the State.
The State’s helmsman noted that the construction of the Olokola seaport would provide another opportunity for companies in the State to move their goods and equipment in addition to the Gateway Agro-Cargo International Airport, which is almost at completion stage, and the planned Dry port to be located at Kajola, an outskirt of the State capital.
Assuring that his administration is working towards putting an end to the multiplicity of taxes in the State, Abiodun pointed out that the reforms already put in place by the Ogun State Inland Revenue Service would definitely put pay to the issue.
In his words, “On the harmonization of taxes, we have put in a lot of reforms on our Internal Revenue Service.
“Be rest assured, be patient with me, slowly and surely, we will remove all these multiplicities of taxes.”
Speaking on the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy, the Governor revealed that on assumption of office, he discovered that the Bureau of Lands and Survey consisted of a group of principalities and cabal,saying that he has succeeded in laying off the corrupt ones and redeployed some others.
He pointed out that the government would henceforth engage technology to fast-tracking the signing of the C-of Os, just as he maintained that new blood had been introduced to the Bureau in line with the progressive vision of government.
It is interesting to note that the Governor revealed to the Chief Executive Officers of companies that efforts were underway to ensure 24 hours power supply as a way of further promoting manufacturing and seamless production process in the State through the initiative tagged, “Light Up Power Project.”
He noted that power generation is the focus of his second term in office, pointing out that it is aimed at ensuring 24 hours uninterrupted power supply across the length and breadth of the State.
“As a promise keeping Governor, I want to assure you as a responsible and responsive administration that we will continue to collaborate with stakeholders across board. Let me inform you that power generation is the focus of our second term under the Light Up Project initiative which seeks to ensure 24 hours uninterrupted power supply in Ogun State. This would be achieved before I leave office in 2027.
-Femi Onasanya, the Press Officer in the Ogun State Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org ( 08084818609).
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