Wednesday, May 11, 2016 11:53 am
By Soyombo Opeyemi
You do not attract investments to your state by folding your arms and expecting investors to knock on your doors. You have to showcase what you have. It is equally not enough for you to advertise and ask investors to come when you have a bureaucratic system that makes it easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a prospective investor to establish business in your state. And you do not advertise for the sake of it. If a system does not work or yield returns, you reform or dump it outright.
Following the First Ogun State Investors’ Forum in 2012, over 40 major industries berthed in the state. After the 2014 edition, greater number of companies was established in Ogun. These are multi-billion naira investments that have created hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Ogun State. In 2014 alone, Ogun attracted investments worth N690 billion. As far as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria is concerned, Ogun is now the industrial hub of Nigeria by virtue of the massive inflow of investments into the state in the last five years.
What are the conditions that make the state so attractive to business in the last five years? First and foremost is the vision of the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Without vision nothing can be achieved, even if you have all the resources in this world. The vision of the governor to move the state from the backwoods of civilization to the 21st century has resulted in doing things differently in the state. To cite one example in parenthesis, the introduction of e-payment or cashless system suddenly raised the Internally Generated Revenue of the Ministry of Commerce from the average of N45 million (forty-five million naira) per annum under the previous government to N550 million (five hundred and fifty million naira) per annum (representing 1,122% increase) within a space of one year of the Amosun administration!
Of course, it is no longer news that the current government inherited a state defined by insecurity. So the first step taken by the Amosun administration was to contain the menace because no sensible investor will bring their investments to an insecure environment. The next was to create (further) an environment conducive to investments by removing all identified bottlenecks that drive away investors as well as build infrastructure that will foster business development. It is apt at this juncture to quote the assessment by a global institution – the World Bank.
In its biennial report, Doing Business in Nigeria 2014, the global financial institution reports that “Ogun, one of the lowest ranked overall performers in both 2008 and 2010, is one of the top reforming states in 2014”. It rates Ogun, out of 35 states and FCT, as one of the five states “that made the biggest strides towards the national frontier of good practices.”
According to the 2014 Report, “Thanks to a concerted effort across federal and state authorities, and in collaboration with the private sector, 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 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… Finally, Ogun’s Bureau of Lands digitalised property records with the aim of enabling electronic title searches and making property registration more efficient.”
Of course, it is no longer news that the current government inherited a state defined by insecurity. So the first step taken by the Amosun administration was to contain the menace because no sensible investor will bring their investments to an insecure environment. The next was to create (further) an environment conducive to investments by removing all identified bottlenecks that drive away investors as well as build infrastructure that will foster business development.
In spite of the successes recorded so far, the Ogun State Government is not resting on its oars. “Since that 2014 Report,” said Governor Ibikunle Amosun at the opening ceremony of the Third Ogun State Investors’ Forum in Abeokuta yesterday, “we have expanded the Bureau of Urban and Physical Planning into a full-fledged Ministry and have adopted reforms that fast track the process for obtaining development permits from six weeks to two and land clearance permits to one week…”
The governor added that “To make it easier for investors to take full advantage of the vast opportunities in Ogun State, we are further expanding the services offered by the One-Stop-Shop that was launched in 2012. The One -Stop-Shop will enable potential and existing investors to go to only one office in order to process Urban and Physical Planning permits; to access the Bureau of Lands to conduct transactions such as land title searches, to purchase land and obtain certificates of occupancy/Governor’s consent; to access the Internal Revenue Service; to acquire land for agriculture; and finally to access the Legal Advisory Desk – all under one roof.”
There is no doubt that Ogun State, under the current government, is taking giant leaps economically into the 21st century. It is indeed the “Emerging Economic Power House” in the country. What is expected of us as citizens of the state is to continue to co-operate with the government in order to sustain the momentum of development for the benefit of the present and future generations.
– Soyombo, a media practitioner, sent this piece from Abeokuta via [email protected]