Abiodun, Sanwo-Olu forging development ties along common borders by Femi Ogbonnikan by Femi Ogbonnikan
The proximity of Ogun to Lagos State has always presented opportunities for the two sates to forge closer developmental ties. Ojodu/Berger (Lagos) – Akute and Isheri (Ifo Local Government Area in Ogun), Alakuko (Lagos) – Sango-Ota (Ogun), Mowe-Ibafo (Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun state), Ogijo (Ogun) – Odogunyan/Ikorodu (Lagos), Epe (Lagos)/Ijebu-Ode (Ogun), among others, are communities that are contiguous to one another. As next-door neighbour to Lagos, Ogun State has always been a sure destination for population explosion drifts. Thus, internally generated revenues accruing from these communities are worked out by both states and remitted to the appropriate quarters for the provision of basic amenities for the people.
In furtherance of the long-standing relationship between the two states, Governor Dapo Abiodun is desirous to harness the great opportunities for improved internally generated revenue (IGR) to foster sustainable development.
To this end, the governor, in collaboration with his Lagos State counterpart, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have come together under a joint development plan to synergize on how best they can both harness the opportunities the two states have in common. For the first time, excitement is high that the collaboration will be a catalyst for rapid socio-economic development. This is more so, as the two states have too many things in common, ranging from closeness in border, migration-emigration, and business establishment to manpower needs, among others.
Oftentimes, people refer to Lagos and Ogun to what New York is to New Jersey (United States of America).
And it is on this note that both governors have resolved to formulate an integration plan to foster socio-economic growth and development of the two states.
At a recent engagement with critical business stakeholders at his Okemosan office, Abeokuta, the governor pledged the commitment to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
He said: “Till date, Ogun State has been rated largely for what we call the “Push” factor of Lagos. Meaning that people coming to invest in Ogun State are networked to Lagos, or perhaps there is no land available in Lagos, that is the “Push” factor. We are committed to change it to a “Pull” factor.
“We appreciate the fact that to keep our vision, which I should remind you, is to have a focused and qualitative governance, while creating an enabling environment for a Public Private Practice (PPP) sector, which we believe is fundamental to the economic growth of this state and individual prosperity.
“A lot of emphasis is being put on Public Private Partnership (PPP). And to encourage Public Private Practice (PPP), you must have the right infrastructure. The issue of rural and township road is just a matter of infrastructure.”
Having put in place the first four-year plan, which is expected to translate to a focused and qualitative governance, all is now set for the administration to deliver on those plans as envisaged in the vision.The governor strongly believes that the most difficult issue and it is most disturbing today is security. Ogun state, today, has the largest number of industries in the country. And this is largely due to its geographical location, which is responsible for it being christened a “Gateway state.”
With Lagos, at a time, being the Federal capital of Nigeria, on account of the access to sea-port, most of these companies found it convenient to locate in Lagos.
But the Federal capital was moved to Abuja when it became obvious that Lagos had become congested and soon afterwards, the next state of reckoning for potential investors was to come knocking at the neighbouring Ogun State, which shares proximity to the “Centre of Excellence.”
As the Gateway State, the Lagos/Ibadan expressway passes through the state and with that, it is bordered by other states. So, also, it shares common borders with the Republic of Benin, and this has heightened the security challenges.
Criminals fleeing Lagos see Ogun as first port of call. The issue of security has to be taken seriously, because there is no way to convince potential investors to come and invest in a state of insecurity. It is therefore imperative to make adequate provisions for security, which is the driving force to making the state the economic capital or economic hub of the country.
Basically, investors can’t operate where their peace and safety are not guaranteed. In Ogun state today, many industries that once operated in Lagos have been pushed are now berthed in the Gateway State. The focus of the administration is to pull a lot into Ogun state and this has been done consciously. It is the resolve of the administration to make Ogun state number one of the ease of doing business index in this country.
Top of these reasons is that of security: the ability to access the state, the ability to acquire lands and ability not to go through multiple-agencies. Already, plans are underway to rejig the state security trust fund, which was in place before, but has got nothing to show for its existence. With a bill already sent to the House of Assembly for amendments, the new security trust fund will now function like it should function, as it is obtainable in Lagos.
The objective of the fund is to provide funds for security agencies, to provide for security agencies as well as things that they need to ensure that Police and other security agencies are able to protect the state adequately. Procurement of vehicles, communication equipment, kits, drones, investment in crime tracking devices and motivation of personnel are germane to effective crime-fighting.
- Femi Ogbonnikan is a Media Consultant to the Ogun State Governor.