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Maximizing Ogun’s potential as industrial hub

By Soyombo Opeyemi

One is almost tempted to suggest to school heads to take secondary school students on a “formal” excursion to the various sites of construction across Ogun State for practical learning. These rising columns, which later shoulder some concrete slabs, altering the landscape of an area permanently within a short space of time, how do they come to be? How in operational terms do the heavy machines such asskid steers, mixer trucks, tracked asphalt pavers, waste handlers, drill rigs, blasthole drills, motor graders, asphalt mixing plants, road roller machines, crawler excavators, forklift trucks, wheel loaders and truck cranes contribute to the making of these picturesque structures that confirm a community or people on the path of modernisation and development?

Enough of being welders, carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, auto mechanics  or budding engineers on the pages of textbooks, I once took a group of students on an excursion to the workshops of these technicians, some firms and construction sites for practical experience. You don’t have to pluck tubers of yam on tree  tops or dig colanut from the ground! “Go-to-hell” does not imply going to hell after death but a farm toolto harvest cocoa, colanut, etc!

One often rails against a Nigerian system whereby pupils learn Agriculture Science only on the pages of textbooks. From JSS1 to SSS3,  they  see  cocoa plants, colanut trees,  cotton, rice, millet and cassava plants only in  their  textbooks.  No,  they ought to be taken round farmlands to see these  crops. They should see how they are grown, harvested and processed into semi-finished or finished products. They should have beds in their various schools where they plant vegetables,  beans, maize,  etc. They should learn to  “soil their fingers productively”. Such excursions, in relation to Agriculture, could take them to Model Farm Estates built by the current government  so they can appreciate  the  possibility  of being  gainfully self-employed  as graduates of  Agriculture.

Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun  is only short of compelling the  members of the StateExecutive Council to go into farming.

As the state government is investing massively in agriculture, complemented by rural roads to  ensuremobility of men and farm produce, it is hoped that  school heads across the state will  increase the tempo of the  implementation of  the  agriculture  policy  of government.

What we have currently in Ogun is an integrated approach to  development. Apart from the state government assisting the local councils to meet their monthly  recurrent  expenditure  and providing  some access roads, the government has also partnered  multilateral institutions to open up rural  areas through  a  network of road construction  that meets  international specifications. With the encouragement given to the hundreds of multi-billion naira industries flocking to Ogun to engage in backward integration, the international standard roads  being constructed  across the cities  by the  current  government  are planned tolink the agrarian communities and commercial farms.

The thousands of youths being employed by  the multi-billion naira establishments  and  construction firms across the length and breadth of the state will purchase food  and other items from the markets, who will in turn buy from farmers,  thereby  further stimulating  economic activities.

The decision of the Amosun administration to establish the very first  University of  Science and  Technology is,  of course,  in  sync  with the development template of the state.  Ogun has in recent years become the hub of industrialisation in Nigeria.  The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils,  said  recently in Abeokuta when she led a  delegation from the Department for International Development  to the Governor’s Office that Ogun State  alone  cornered  75 per  cent of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI)  into Nigeria.  Beaufils  merely  lent an international voice to  the report of theManufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). More  and more  top-level  science  and technology-basedmanpower  (graduates) will, therefore, be needed by these industries, whose number grows on a daily basis.

Things can only get better in Ogun State. We congratulate the people’s governor for these giant strides. Indeed, we cannot but agree with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for honouring Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the “NUJ Governor Of The Year for his Responsiveness in Human Capacity Building, Infrastructure and Good Governance.”The future belongs to only those who prepare for it today.

Soyombo, public affairs commentator, sent this piece via densityshow@yahoo.com


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