The Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has said that his major priority in office is to make the state the number one destination of investors in Nigeria by year 2020.
Speaking during the Inauguration of the board of the State Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA) on Thursday in Akure, the state capital, Akeredolu said the state has no reason to rely on federal allocation from Abuja before she could meet her commitments to the people if the large deposits of mineral and agricultural resources in the state are well annexed.
The Governor said Nigeria spend N300bn annually on importation of bitumen despite the fact that the state has the largest deposit of bitumen in Nigeria which if processed, can reduce pressure on our naira and boost the nation’s foreign exchange.
The Governor who spoke on several investment opportunities in the state said he establishes ONDIPA to ensure that corporate organizations and business men and women interested in doing business in the state do their transactions without any hues.
The Governor also declared that his administration has dedicated 150,000 hectares of land to boost cocoa, oil palm and cassava plantation in the State.
Akeredolu also announced that the first company for Bitumen Exploration and Processing in Nigeria would commence operation in the state before the middle of 2018.
In his word, Akeredolu said: “We are the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria. We are the largest producer of cassava in Nigeria. We have the largest deposit of limestone in Nigeria; let me inform this gathering that Ondo has the largest deposit of bitumen in Africa and second in the world.
“I want to use this opportunity to announce to this gathering that the first company for Bitumen Exploration and Processing in Nigeria will commence operation in our state before the middle of 2018.
“We are the largest producer of oil palm and cashew nut in South West. We have dedicated 150,000 hectares of land to boost cocoa, oil palm and cassava in Ondo State. We have major cash crops; maize, rice, soya beans, citrus, plantain; coffee, cowpea; we have the highest load of granite in South west. We have large rubber plantations in Ondo. We have oil and gas; we are the 4th largest producer of oil and gas in Nigeria, we can use gas to power of electricity.
“We are also the hub of tourism. The Smoking Hills and golf resort at Ilaramokin is the largest in Nigeria and the third largest in Africa. The longest hill on the continent of Africa is here. Ebomi Lake Tourist Centre is here. The International Culture and Event Centre (DOME) where we are hosting this event is the biggest in South West.
“The popular igbo olodumare is in my town at Okeigbo and to the glory of God, the largest palace in Africa, the Olowo palace domicile here in our state. From Lagos to Akure and Akure to Lagos now take 25 minutes by air.
“We now have Air Peace flying our once moribund airport every day. Overland Airline has increased the frequency of its flight from Akure to Abuja to three times daily. I am sure many of you fly Air Peace to Akure today. So why can’t you come do business here?
“Furthermore, to ensure that inter-state movement is made easy, Ondo State just signed a memorandum of understanding with Niger/Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the construction of 45km Araromi-Epe road to be completed before the end of 2018” he stressed.
Assuring the investors of their safety in the state, Akeredolu said “ONDIPA means business. The mandate of ONDIPA is to ensure that private sectors have no problem doing businesses in Ondo State. Today, you do not need to go to ministries to register your business and process papers; ONDIPA will do everything for you.
“I want to assure investors that whatever Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we sign with you will be fulfilled with sanctimonious attention. We would not compromise integrity. In three years, i want to see Ondo being the number destination of investors in Nigeria.
I want to export our cash crops and mineral resources to reduce pressure on our naira to boost our foreign exchange. My office is opened to investors. ONDIPA is open. The office of ONDIPA is even beside my office” he stated.
Established by the House of Assembly of Assembly, (ONDIPA)is saddled with responsibility of managing the State’s investment promotion and multilateral cooperation; structured to meet all corporate best practices to ensure seamless integration of potential investors, development partners and investments into the growth and development of the state’s economy.
The Agency which has the Governor as its Chairman, has the Special Adviser to the Governor on Development and Investment, Mr. Boye Oyewumi is to act as Vice-chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Others members of the board of the agency are the state Commissioners for Commerce and Industry and Agriculture, the Vice-President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Mrs Cecilia Akintomide, CEO, Delta Africs, Engr. Olu Odumakinde who are both indigenes of the state.
In his speech, Oyewumi said he and his team shall be focusing on Investor and sector Targeting/Marketing, Promotion of Tourism, Business facilitation and Partnerships with Multilateral and Donor Organizations and most importantly, Management of the state economic zones aimed towards creating jobs, transfer of technology/skills, reduction of capital flight and value chain improvements, Import substitution, Industry/Economic Diversification, Infrastructure development and most significantly, Improvement of Internally generated revenue.
Oyewumi said to get the goals and objectives of ONDIPA achieved, sectors such as Agriculture, Information technology, Oil and Gas, Energy and Mining, Toursim, Manufacturing and Agro allied industries and Transportation sectors would be priotized.
Several investors and corporate organizations who thronged the International Culture and Event Centre (DOME) where the event took place declared their readiness to patner the state government.
An investor, Mr. Yomi Adewumi who is the CEO of Investment Technology Limited, a firm specializing in Mining and Processing said his company would be investing $3m dollars in the state. He thanked Akeredolu’s administration for creating enabling environment for investors to thrive in the state.
Present at the event was the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi and his wife, Secretary to the state Government, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, members of the state executive council, permanent secretaries and several other government functionaries.
Others present were the first Professor of Investment Promotion in Nigeria, Professor Adesoji Adesugba, representatives of the British Department for International Development (DFID), Nigerian Investment and Development Corporation, Bank of Industry, Kaduna State Development and Investment Corporation, David Lukadu, Yewande Sadiqu, Mohammed Afeez respectively.
Also present were the representative of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Mr. Omolola Adegbenga, Lagos lawyer and human rights activists, Mr. Femi Falana, Executive Director, Energy Renewal Division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Alhaji Abdulahi Adamu, Director General, National Emergency Agency (NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha amongst others.