The Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), yesterday, to present the Facts Behind Ekiti State’s economy. He also used the occasion to ring the NSE’s closing bell at the end of the day’s trading session.
In his address to the top executives of the NSE, market dealers, and other participants, the Governor claimed that Ekiti State is set to become the “investment capital” of Nigeria. He went further to note that the aim of his visit is to strengthen the bond of partnership between state government and private sector. This, he said, would facilitate adequate economic development.
The State’s Economic Drive: The Governor also highlighted his economic agenda in the state which include the following:
- Transforming the state into an attractive investment destination for investors,
- Delivering sustainable economic growth,
- Creating employment opportunities, and
- Lifting millions of Ekiti citizens out of poverty.
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Here’s the Plan: To this end, the Governor said efforts are being made to ensure that Ekiti State becomes conducive enough to support the highlighted economic transformation agenda. Focus is on providing security, which he said “is the foundation of any economic development.” In the same vein, the State Government is working towards developing the required infrastructural capacity that will position the state as a competitive destination for business.
Other efforts being put in place include the enactment of a law establishing the Ekiti State Development and Investment Promotion Agency which Governor Fayemi said will facilitate the State’s ease of doing business reforms.
Ekiti State is also focused on improving its agricultural sector by adding value through processing. This, the Governor said, would encourage greater output from Ekiti farmers. Already, the state has been attracting partnerships from the private sector in this regard, Fayemi said.
Other plans include the development of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone which the Governor said is expected to become Nigeria’s first service-focused, special economic zone. When completed, the knowledge zone will comprise of innovation hubs, university campuses, work spaces, biomedical outfits, and a medical hub.
In view of the foregoing, therefore, the Governor stated that “it is our belief that the Stock Exchange is now more strategically positioned to support Ekiti State in unlocking the investment opportunities in the various sectors we are focused on. our.”
The Governor also noted that following his return as Governor of Ekiti State, development partners such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Gates Foundation, etc., have all returned to the state to help facilitate development. This, by the way, implies that these partners deserted the state during Governor Fayoshe’s administration.
In closing his remarks, Governor Fayemi called on his fellow Governors to adopt the strategy of partnering with the private sector on investment, bearing in mind the many benefits that come with such collaborations. He also stated that it has become imperative for all state Governors to devise a workable strategy for growing the Nigerian economy. This is because it is no longer acceptable to continually parade unacceptable figures of millions of Nigerians living below the poverty line, he said.
Collaboration with the NSE: In the meantime, the Governor did not specify whether his State Government is hoping to raise bonds from the NSE. When asked about this, he noted that this is possible in the near future and that stakeholders should stay-tuned as to when exactly this will happen.
It should be noted that Ekiti State has a history of collaborating with the Nigerian Stock Exchange for investment purposes. As the Governor recalled, his “original predecessor”, Governor Adeniyi Adebayo, had in 2001 successfully raised N4 billion through bond issuance. The funding was used to facilitate some critical infrastructural projects.
Governor Fayemi’s first term in office witnessed the State’s second foray into the debt market through the successful issuance of a N20 billion bond; part of a N25 billion multi-note issuance which the Governor said facilitated projects across the state. These bonds have since been redeemed.
The Governor said both bond issuance programmes demonstrate how Governments can use the capital market to facilitate economic development.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr Oscar Onyema, acknowledged that Ekiti State successfully utilised the capital that was initially raised on the NSE. This has, therefore, positioned the state for growth.
Other notable personalities present during the Facts Behind the Ekiti State Economy are: the CEO of Greenwich Trust Limited, Mr Kayode Falowo, the NSE’s National Council President, Otunba Abimbola Ogunbanjo, Mrs Erelu Angela Adebayo, a National Council Member, and others.