By Soyombo Opeyemi

Ogun has shed the toga of a Civil Service State and is now robed as an “Industrial Hub”. The unenviable appellation has now been supplanted with “Investors’ destination of Choice.”

Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun

There is no point counting the number of industries that berthed in Ogun in the last seven years of the Ibikunle Amosun administration. It is a lot easier to count those yet to make their presence felt in the state. The trend now is, if your business is not in Ogun State, it’s probably not in Nigeria.

Thanks to the humongous investment in security, road, power, education, health, agriculture, housing, etc. by the current government.

So much has been written and said about how the Amosun government turned around the fortunes of Ogun State industrially.

It moved the state from 35th position in 2010 to one of the first five among the 36 states of the federation in 2014, according to the World Bank Doing Business in Nigeria Report.

The World Bank, Doing Business in Nigeria 2014, rates Ogun as one of the five states “that   made the biggest strides towards the national frontier of good practices.”

The same World Bank, in the 2008 and 2010 reports, ranked Ogun State as among the lowest overall performers among the 36 states in Nigeria in terms of Ease of Doing Business.

According to the 2014 Report, “Ogun improved on three of the four Doing Business indicators benchmarked. The construction permitting system was radically overhauled, with the state government authorities decentralising the approval system and a new committee monitoring delays. Building permit applications and payments can now be made simultaneously in district offices. Private professionals issue environmental-impact assessments in accordance with the conditions and templates set out in a framework agreement. The certificate of completion is issued on the spot, immediately following the final inspection.”

To begin a business in the current Ogun State, according to World Bank, “entrepreneurs no longer need to travel to Ibadan or Lagos, thanks to the Federal Inland Revenue Service’s new stamp duty office in Abeokuta. In addition, the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry abolished the requirement for a physical inspection of the business premises – today, a proof of company address, such as a utility bill, is sufficient. A business premises permit is issued on the spot upon payment of the fee. Finally, Ogun’s Bureau of Lands digitalised property records with the aim of enabling electronic title searches and making property registration more efficient.”

Achieving all this within a space of three years could only have been a product of vision, meticulous planning and dedication. Governor Amosun deserves the plaudits of everyone.

From the data collated by the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), 75 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment into the sector came to Ogun State between 2014 and 2016. This is no mean achievement considering the trajectory of the state in industrial development.

As recent as 2017, Ogun was rated the second most viable state in Nigeria in the Fiscal Sustainability Report of BudgIT, ‘a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change.’ A leading financial newspaper, Business Day, had, in the same year, carried a report on its front page on the landmark progress under the Ibikunle Amosun administration:

“Lagos and Ogun states are fast moving away from other states in the country in financial capacity, following their ability to generate over 60 per cent of their revenue internally. The two states generated 73 per cent and 63 per cent of their revenue internally in 2016. This means that in the event of a failure or shortfall in allocation from the Federation Account, the two states can internally generate at least N63 out of every N100 needed monthly. Lagos and Ogun are closely followed by Rivers, Kano and Edo States, which generated 43 per   cent, 38 per cent and 35 per cent respectively of their total internal revenue…”

The ramification of the report by the Bussiness Day could be better appreciated with the fact that Ogun State is placed Number 26 out of 36 states in terms of allocation it receives from the Federation Account. The progress of Ogun can, therefore, be described as phenomenal because you also need money to make money!

Beyond the creation of an enabling environment for both local and foreign businesses to thrive, Amosun’s personal commitment and sacrifice to turn Ogun into an industrial hub is exceptional.

Governor Amosun not only has the names of “who is who” in the business community in Nigeria, he sometimes calls them up, urging them to come and invest in Ogun. This is beside the biennial Investors’ Forum or the yearly Breakfast Forum, when he sits face-to-face with investors and interact at close quarters. Sometimes during a conversation, he discovers an industrialist is an indigene of Ogun, his eyes glow. He reminds them of home, the need to contribute their own quota to the socio-economic advancement of the state.

Having a governor personally calling you up is an added impetus. It shows personal commitment. It’s a sign of an helmsman genuinely concerned with the need to develop his state. It’s a win-win situation for both the investor and the state. This is one unsung aspect of Amosun’s personal contribution to the Mission to Rebuild Ogun State.

And so when you read these uncharitable attacks by some opposition elements, you simply wonder: Must politics degenerate to this level? Is there no line between playing politics and development of our dear state?

But then the immortal words of Theodore Roosevelt   sometimes come to lift up the spirit.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs… because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause… so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

And the reader should make no mistake about it. Amosun believes there’s still much to be done. That’s why he’s gripped by development fever rather than 2019 elections. His place in the history of this state is already assured.

Hear the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, at the recently-concluded Ogun African Drums Festival: “I commend his vision… He doesn’t just pull down but constructs, builds, not just the tangible but the intangible such as culture.”

Amosun has again pioneered the revival of a major aspect   of our culture through the African Drums Festival. It is not the critic that counts…

* Soyombo sent this piece from Abeokuta via [email protected]

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