By Dayo Johnson, Akure
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday assured foreign investors in the country of the safety of their investments and government supports both at states and the national levels.
He spoke at the official commissioning of Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub, Ore, a project to commemorate the 3 rd year anniversary of Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu
The ceremony was witnessed by three state governors, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Dapo Abiodun, Ogun and Godwin Obaseki Edo, the Minister for Trade and industries, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, traditional rulers, the former vice chairman (Southwest) of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Pius Akinyelure and other chieftains of the All Progressive Congress.
President Buhari also assured investors of conducive environment and good working relationship with their host communities.
He noted that ” we will ensure that investors are supported both at the state and national levels.
The President described the projects initiated and completed by the Akeredolu’s administration as remarkable achievements.
President Buhari said the Ondo-Linyi industrial hub was an idea which has come to reality with hard work and dedication by the Governor.
While thanking the people of the state for their supports for the government of Akeredolu, the President expresses confidence that the industrial hub will utilize local material which will create jobs for the young ones.
President Muhammadu Buhari ” let me start by congratulating the governor and people of Ondo State for this remarkable achievement. I’m impressed with what is on the ground here and I anticipate the positive impact it will have on people of this State.
” l still recalled the initial brief from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on this project at its conception. Back then, it was an idea. Today, due to hard work, dedication, and commitment to delivering inclusive growth, that idea has now become a reality.
” l take this opportunity to commend investors who saw Nigeria and Ondo State in particular as a viable investment destination.
“I want to assure you of our continued support both at federal and state level as we move forward to the next phase of this project’s lifecycle.
“May I also thank our traditional rulers and host community for their tolerance, understanding, and support. I ask you all to sustain this collaboration and collaborative effort to ensure that this investment expands and succeeds.
“I’m confident that this project-based here will utilise locally available raw materials to create jobs for young men and women in this locality, increase knowledge and capacity, and support our import substitution policy.
Earlier in his opening remark, Governor Akeredolu said the Ondo-Linyi industrial hub was part of the vision of his administration to create job and improve the fortune of the state.
Describing the state as the hidden treasure of the country, Akeredolu alluded the presence of the abundant mineral resources available in the state.
He thanked the President for finding time to the state while describing the integrity of the President as a motivation for his followers.
On the Linyi industrial hub, Akeredolu said ” the development that has taken place here was well-thought-out as it became our major way of moving the State forward, rescue her from the deplorable economic situation of the time and set her foot on self-reliance.
” So we wasted no time to open all our doors and activate all connections.
“About two years ago, we embarked on an investment tour to the Linyi Province of the People’s Republic of China. During the visit, we met with the Mayor of China, the Chairman of Wewood and several other prospective investors.
“I assured the Mayor and the investors that investing in Ondo State would be one of the best business decisions they would ever take because we were determined to change the narrative of our State from being a civil service-driven economy to that of an industry-based economy.
“We also assured them of Ondo State government support for foreign and indigenous business owners. I am sure that some people would say this is a cliché that has become worn out, but I am glad to say that with what is on ground today, we have delivered on that promise.
“Our vision was to create the first-ever bi-city arrangement in Ondo State, Nigeria, where a hub of investors from the Linyi Province of the People’s Republic of China will be incentivised and encouraged to replicate the high-level industrialisation which we witnessed in Linyi during our investment visit.
” I can say with confidence that we are very much on the way to achieving that.
What is on ground today is a result of painstaking planning, serious determination, collective efforts and proof that great developments can happen if all stakeholders come together.
“This project has the collaborative efforts and input of Mr. President’s administration and your dedication to power sector reforms, agricultural funding, and investments incentivisation.
” lt also has the indelible inputs of the Ondo State Government in several areas. Part of the strategic planning we put in place was to ensure that the industrial revolution is sustainable through a process of backward integration.
“Upon knowing of our pioneer investor, Wewood’s interest in establishing the first-ever Medium Density Fibre (MDF) Factory in Nigeria, we began by collaborating with them to plant 10,000 hectares of gmelina Arborea trees, thereby ensuring that our raw materials are not depleted whilst getting raw materials for the factory.
” We initiated this pre-production activity to ensure sustainability before the project even began.
“Our administration also set aside land which was massively subsidised for the establishment of the Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub with the understanding that the people of Ondo State will be the primary beneficiaries of their establishment here through employment, taxes, Corporate Social Responsibility, engagement in supplies of raw materials and technology transfer.
” The latter excites me because not only have our investors come, but they have honoured our agreement to transfer knowledge to the good people of Ondo State.
” An Innovation Enterprise Institution, African College of Agriculture, Vocational and Technical Studies have been established solely for this purpose.
“The first batch of 100 trainees are currently undergoing this knowledge transfer through intensive training in areas of interest, with the understanding that they will be given priority of employment at the Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub.
“The potential for industrialisation of Nigeria is immense. It is indeed not just Africa’s but the world’s emerging investment destination, but what has held us back is the thoroughness and the depth of thought, process and engagement that is necessary for turning these potential to reality, such as what we are seeing unfold here today.
” I am excited to say that you all will be seeing one of Nigeria’s highest volume Cassava to Ethanol Factories, producing 300 metric tonnes of ethanol, every day. You will also be witnessing like I mentioned: Nigeria’s first MDF factory through Wewood; an High-Density Fibreboard (HDF) and Plywood Production Line; Ondo State’s first locally produced lace fabrics which are Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and MANCAP certified through Win-Win Textiles; and a paper production factory, amongst others.
“Already, our youths are being directly employed in their thousands.
“The employment ratio of Nigerians to expatriates here is in the range of 40:1 in favour of Nigerians.
“Our farmers benefit directly from supply of raw materials, and the multiplier effects have stimulated logistics, hospitality, construction, banking and other service sectors of our economy in Ondo State and Nigeria in general.
” Our strategy is to ensure that the northern part of Ondo State is structured for large scale agriculture and ensure food security for the State, while the central part houses technology and innovation centres and the southern part, our commercial hubs.
“With the Free Trade Zone of Ondo State situated nearby, and the progress we are making on the Deep Seaport, our industrial revolution is near fruition, and the future which is very nearby, fills us with hope.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Ore flyover interchange, President Buhari who lauded the governor said its a legacy project that would remain permanent.
President Buhari said ” l commend you for your strategic investment in infrastructures across the state.
Akeredolu noted that the redemption bridge ” is a promise kept to link the south with other parts of the state.
He gave an assurance that the Federal Government will sustain massive investments in the provision of infrastructure across the country.
According to him ” the Interchange will boost economic activities in the State, ease traffic congestion as well as reduce accidents often experienced on the major road.
President Buhari noted that the Federal Government will meet its obligations to the State on the construction of this Interchange Flyover in due course.
He recalled that the re-designing and construction of the road to accommodate Interchange Flyover was overdue as a result of the growing population in Ore.
”During the civil war and during my campaigns since 2002, I have become familiar with the terrain of Ore which is a connecting city between the Southwest and the Eastern parts of our country.
”As a result of this, the city has a cosmopolitan population that is in the neighbourhood of 300,000.
”This is a city that can be described as a mini-Nigeria as almost all ethnic groups of our country are happily represented here.
”Let me commend Governor Akeredolu and his team for their great efforts and professionalism in putting this project in place.
”This project is executed in line with the spirit and drive of the Federal Government which puts great emphasis on infrastructural development across our country, especially in the area of transportation, ”
President Buhari praised a consortium of Nigerian Engineers for the design and supervision of the impressive-flyover of international standards.
”We are proud of you and we want to assure our people that we would continue to utilise the expertise and experience of local consultants who are competing favourably with their counterparts globally.
”Let me also advise that a maintenance system should be in place to safeguard road users throughout the lifetime of this very impressive fly-over, ” he said.
Commending the impactful performance of the current Ondo State Administration, the President affirmed that the Akeredeolu administration had cleared six months out of the seven months arrears of salaries/pensions owed by the previous administration.
He also lauded the state government for being up-to-date in payment of salaries and pensions.
”It is gratifying to note that Ondo State is one of the first few states in Nigeria that have started implementing the New Minimum Wage.
”You have been able to achieve these feats in spite of limited available resources.
”I am not surprised at this because available records show that Ondo State has recorded the highest percentage leap in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) among the States, due to the effort of the APC government here, ” he said.
Reaffirming the resolve of the Federal Government to continue to invest heavily in the provision of infrastructure, the President announced that his administration has expended more on the provision of railway services, rehabilitation and construction of roads and bridges.
”We are confronting the infrastructure deficit head on.
”At the inception of our administration, we were faced with decayed infrastructure on our road network and railways, because of long years of neglect and lack of investment.
”However, our administration, as a result of our commitment to bridge this deficit, decided to source funds and address the issue.
”Let me commend the collaborative efforts between the Federal Government and Ondo State Government in respect of this project.
”I commend this type of collaboration between the Federal Government and other State Governments.
”No one tier of government can on its own achieve the overall development of our dear country, ” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari arrived Akure, the Ondo State capital in the president’s Airforce 1 jet which landed at the Akure airport at about 11.18am.
The Governor had on Monday declared today ( Tuesday) as public holiday in order to receive the president.