The world of business holds tremendous promise for a fast-growing state in the South-West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria. This is as the State of Osun is finding its footing in the business and investments terrain of the nation’s economy. Various indices, hinged on achievements of the immediate past administration in virtually all sectors; coupled with the cumulative impacts of previous administrations are putting a bold challenge to the incumbent administration to bear the torch and make a niche in the industrial and investment aura. NIYI OLASINDE explores the profound fertile ground for this phase of development to see the light of day.
BUSINESS and investment
opportunities are fast finding new
haven in the State of Osun. From all indications, the next ten years hold high promise for the state to sprout out and blossom as cynosure and anchor to trade, investments and industrial portfolios, which will launch it forward as pacesetter and clear leader among the comity of states; not only in the South-West geopolitical zone but in the entire federation, Nigeria. Thus, we envisage and foresee a total transformation and renaissance in industry, trade and commerce, banking and finance, culture and tourism, innovation, science and technology, mining, agriculture and rural development,human resources and capacity building as core sectors of the economy.
Many factors give signal and credence to the rate and pace of development of a society, virtually in all areas of life. These factors, mostly capital intensive are nuggets, novel and prerequisite to rapid economic development and as such must first be put on ground to provide solid base for businesses and industries to thrive, grow and flourish.
Gladly for the State of Osun, the past decade had been filled with events and activities, culminating in programmes and projects which set the stage ready for industrial growth. Aside the fact that the state is today acknowledged to be one of the safest and securest in the country, the entire nooks and crannies of the state is replete with vast and gigantic projects, in infrastructure of sorts, health and medical provisions, social protection amenities, rural and urban development, sports and youth development, education, human development and youth empowerment, to mention just a few.
Of all these, infrastructural development has been the area that had been much decried and criticized. Yet, it is that single area which stands tall in giving the greatest assurance to sustainable progress and development in all strata. With good, motorable roads, provision of potable water, stable electricity (averaging 18 hours per day as at date), creation of networks of markets and business zones and other positive incentives, the state has been set on course to embrace development faster than it had ever done in its earlier years of existence as a state. The vibrant pacesetting efforts of the immediate past administration in the areas of state-owned airport project and the international market / dry port at Dagbolu are an impressive springboard which the incumbent administration is expected to build on and develop from.
Today, the city of Osogbo, the capital of the State of Osun, and its adjoining communities by extension are waking up to reclaim the long-lost status of business, trade and investment hub in the South-West geopolitical zone.
With the State of Osun Ten-Year Development Plan set out by the immediate past administration on the twilight of its exit from office, the ball is left rolling for the incumbent administration to pick up from there. However, with the birth of the State Development Plan and its components, the state is easier to govern for any administration irrespective of party affiliation because there would have been a definite pathway to the development of the state. Since there is a clearly stated “Mission and Vision”. The state would have a path it is heading within a specific time frame. Besides, the State Development Plan provides templates for institutional reforms and provision of strong institutions that would not outlive individuals, but also drive the state developmental goals.
Gladly, the administration saddled with the responsibility of implementing the development plan is the legacy administration of continuity. It then becomes a smooth sail, a walkover, carrying on with the task of getting the plan implemented. The onus and moral burden rests on the Oyetola administration to break forth and keep the steam in measuring up to hopes and expectations held for it by the society; including the majority of electorate who endorsed his emergence.
Respondents who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER Magazine were full of praises and appreciation for the people of the State of Osun, the electorate in particular, who voted for a government of continuity. One of them, Mr. Taiwo Afolayan particularly made a graphic imagination of what a mess and charade the task of governing the state would have been; were the baton to fall in the hand of a candidate other than that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In his words, Afolayan, a resident of Osogbo said that “it would have been so regrettable for Osun and its people if the baton of leadership had swung into the hand of the candidate of any other contending political party than that of the All Progressives Congress in the 2018 Governorship Elections”. According to him, Nigeria is a country where no new government that is controlled by a different political party continues with the plans, programmes and policies of the previous administration, no matter how laudable and attractive such programmes are.
This view is shared by a majority of respondents who spoke with our medium on the benefits that lay in wait to be tapped by the state through the ongoing scrupulous implementation of the Ten-Year Development Plan bequeathed to the incumbent administration by the immediate past administration in the state.
Part of the qualities which distinguish the 10-Year State Development Plan is the charge and motivation it provides, as guiding star, to the leadership of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other government parastatals in the state to work hard and raise their revenue.
The emergence of the Ten-Year Plan brought along with it the realization that for the state to survive economically and continue on the ongoing infrastructure development, all hands must be on the deck to raise the state’s Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) from its average N500million to N4.1billion on monthly basis.
The document and the exertions it engendered came as a wake-up call on citizens of the state to look inward and imbibe the culture of being faithful to their civic responsibilities of paying tax to government. This realization and exertions were also to the effect that for the 10-year proposed economic development plan to be realized, the state must be earning at least N4.1billion every month before the expiration of the last administration’s time in office in November 2018.
In his address to the opening session of the convergence for the drafting of the State Development Plan blueprint, the incumbent Governor of the State of Osun, who was the Chief of Staff to the Governor at the time, Mr. IsiakaAdegboyega Oyetola said that the programme was designed to set forensic agenda for the state in order to be economically viable.
Oyetola further explained that the Aregbesola administration, under which he served as Chief of Staff to the Governor, decided to come up with the plan so as to ensure a proposal plan which all the stakeholders would have sense of belonging. He therefore charged the discussants for robust deliberation.
With this background in mind, it is not in doubt that the workable document that came out of the retreat which birthed the State of Osun Ten-Year Development Plan 2018 to 2028 will henceforth be operational to the ultimate overall benefit of all and sundry in the state.
With the first-ever Economic and
Investment Summit, held in the
state in November 2019, and with the signing of the Executive Order establishing for the state the Osun Investment and Promotion Agency, it is expected with high hopes that the next ten years will usher in the entrance into the state of multiples of business openings and opportunities.
The State of Osun is a fertile ground for several chains of businesses and undertakings in all of the extractive, manufacturing and the construction industries. With strategic priority attention coming from the government, the citizenry is expected to give full support and cooperation to the agricultural drive of the administration. The prevailing partial closure of all land borders into the country by the Federal Government at this wake of a new decade is an indicator that at long last, Nigeria is about to be set free from lacklustre cluelessness.
Now that promotion is coming the way of local producers of goods, services and commodities, the infant indigenous industries are on the right path to economic boom. All that is required is a sufficient change of attitude from the Nigerian people, of which residents of the State of Osun are a vital subset.
With appropriate licensing and concessions from the Federal Government, the mining industry in the State of Osun will, before the mid-term is reached for the ten-year development plan, come alive in full swing. This implies that the state must be making waves as lots of revenues should be accruing into its coffers from the mining sub-sector of the extractive industry.
TRADE, commerce, industry and cooperative throve well under the Aregbesola administration. It was that administration that saw to the emergence of AjeInternational Market, Ayegbaju International Market and the regional market and dry port terminus at Dagbolu. These initiatives derived from the bold conceptual creativity that gave birth to the Ten-Year Development Plan which reference was made of earlier on in this edition.
Part of the trade initiative is what gave rise to the new business zone called Osun Mall. Tongues of pessimists wagged over this project while its execution lasted. It was as if it would not see the light of day!
The Osun Mall is today a reality. This has offered, as far as Osun is concerned, a veritable break from known traditions as there today exists a shopping mall under the single roof of which varieties of wares could be purchased with multiple benefits including reduced prices, quality assurance, standard packaging, comfort and convenience, among others It is expected that other departments in the Justrite that occupies Osun Mall will soon be completed and brought to full use. It is also expected that many more trading units and concerns will be attracted into Osun in earnest.
Some of the residents of the state who spoke with our reporters sued for some incentives and reliefs in taxation to be given to some of the key actors in some dominant businesses as well as new intending investors so that they could be encouraged to invest and stake their fortunes in the state.
In the words of Alhaja Fasilat Abifarin, the emergence of a new business zone through the opening of a new trade outlet in the state is a good development which will be maintained and made to bring further development if only the gesture is replicated within Osogbo and further extended to other parts of the state. Others who spoke with or correspondents maintained the position that the recent trend had been long overdue. However, they view the coming up of new business zones at this juncture in the state’s annals as a welcome development; urging the government of the day to make greater efforts to usher in many more business concerns and industries into the state.
The State of Osun is a large state populated by above four million residents. It has thirty (30) local government councils, with an area office in Modakeke-Ife. Also, its other delineations include three-hundred and thirty-two (332) political / electoral / registration areas (wards), twenty-six (26) state constituencies, nine (9) federal constituencies and three (3) senatorial districts. What we are taking home from these details is that time is ripe and we are eminently qualified for the multiplication of these trade centres and zones across the entire state.
We have had a highly impressive and prolific harvest of development in the education sector. Lots of reforms were brought to the table by the immediate past administration in the state. New, decent and befitting state-of-the-art school building structures and edifices were put in place by the Aregbesola administration. Other initiatives like schools restructuring, single uniforms for each particular grade and good incentives to teachers have made public school education well able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its private counterparts in the state and anywhere else.
At the elementary stage, the Osun Elementary Schools’ Feeding and Health Initiatives (O’ MEALS) has made public education at that stage far more attractive; with the model being copied and replicated across states in the federation with the inclusion of the Federal Government.
The quality, functional free and compulsory basic education of the State Government, under the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yielding the expected dividends. Overall, we have witnessed performances in public examinations being shored up in rapid droves over the past years. We look forward to breaking newer grounds, and reaching for higher heights in years to come.
Still on education, the State of Osun is clearly the single state within the entire federation with the highest concentration of institutions of higher learning. This includes colleges of education, polytechnics and universities; not to talk of health technologies and schools of nursing cutting across public and private categories. Of these all, the multi-campus Osun State University (UNIOSUN) stands tall in providing a worthy and desirable model of self-sustaining institution. In the next ten years, we expect its campuses (colleges) to have been fully developed to the extent that they could stand alone at some realistic future dates. The Oyetola administration is charged to take the bull by its horns and embark pungently on policies and programmes that could advance this cause.
The Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) is unique in that it is jointly owned by the State of Osun and its sister Oyo State. This is a legacy bequeathed to the two states from their past years of joint existence as a single state. The institution is not without its multifarious challenges. Prime among those challenges is the ownership tussle rocking the boat of the institution. The stage at which we are on the crisis is seeing the helmsmen of the two states to provide for the institution peaceful atmosphere as saving grace. The Osun populace looks to the government of the day in the two sister-states to maintain the prevailing dual ownership status for the institution. We envisage a ten-year period of lasting truce to the crisis.
On the whole, schools’ renovation is ongoing. It is expected that the government will not renege on its effort to make our schools befitting, decent and safe for students and teachers as end-users.
The health and medical initiatives of the incumbent administration in the state are quite laudable. The committance of N150 million start-off grant to the Osun Health Insurance Scheme (OHIS) and the provision of 332 primary health centres (PHCs) across the state (one in each of the 332 political / registration units called wards), in partnership with the Federal Government are commendable.
In years ahead, we visualize a situation whereby these health institutions multiply such that baring the rapid increase in population, the ratio of medical health practitioners to patients would have reduced to units. We also envisage improved quality and facilities for our secondary and tertiary health institutions in the state.
Taking recourse to infrastructure, it is the bedrock for further phases of development. In other words, the foundation and positivist climate for subsequent development to take place are best laid through provision of solid social amenities and infrastructure. The last nine years in the state witnessed lots of improvement and ground-breaking in the area of infrastructure development. It is wise to say that there is no development plan at all if the plan is bereft of planning for infrastructure.
The GboyegaOyetola administration has started well in bearing high the torch of progress in infrastructure. We expect all roads already started, either as legacy projects inherited from the immediate past administration or those embarked upon fresh by the incumbent administration to be completed soon. Some of these roads include the East Bypass, also known as Oba Adesoji Aderemi Way; Gbongan / Akoda Road; Osogbo / Ikirun /Ila-Odo / Erin-Ile / Kwara State Boundary Road. We envisage safe and thorough completion of such interstate roads as Ada / Igbajo / Imesi-Ile / Oke-Imesi / Ekiti State Boundary Road; Osogbo / Iwo / Ibadan Road; Osogbo / Ilobu / Oko/ Ogbomoso / Oyo State Boundary Road and many others. With government at the centre in the hand of the progressives, we anticipate a situation whereby parity will exist between the Federal Government and the state to aid road infrastructure development.
Already, the initiative of the Federal government in the area of electricity; with active collaboration from the State Government of Osun has yielded dividends such that the state enjoys an average of 18 hours’ electricity supply per day. It is expected that in years to come, greater improvements will be witnessed such that with expansion of new areas and virgin lands, the power supply will not relax or retard.
Development in the area of potable water supply is another aspect of infrastructure. It is expected that virtually all areas in the state will be covered adequately and sufficiently with good, potable water. Apart from the fact of the convenience this provides, the initiative is one sure way of warding off sicknesses, ailments and diseases, thus bringing health the way of residents of the state.
With concerted and well-coordinated efforts through the State Government, the local governments, the local council development areas, the Rural Access Mobility Project, and all others, the rural roads will all have been opened up to aid human mobility and mass movement of farm produce to urban centres as aid and buffer to industrial growth.
The State of Osun is also expected to be far ahead in the area of human capital development. With a good blend and perfect admixture of the foregoing, residents and indigenes alike are expected to have transformed to highly educated and well informed populace. In this way, the people become much easier to lead.
Already, the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), initiated by the OgbeniRauf Aregbesola administration has made its mark; having empowered in its successive tranches of revolving programmes well above a total of 80,000 youths in the state. This, by implication means removing this large number of promising youths from wandering and cluelessness, improving their finance profiles and those of their families by extension as well as injecting several tens of millions of naira into the state’s economy on a monthly basis. This positive trend, kick-started about nine years ago is still very much in full force.
In years ahead, we visualize a situation where the state will have many of the participants of the OYES scheme giving back to the society by establishing productive outlets in their various areas of specialization; improving their fortunes and setting the ball rolling for accelerated economic and industrial development of the state, thereby.
Within the space of the next ten years, we anticipate a state, which inhabitants are dominated by a majority of well sensitized citizens who are awake, alert and alive to their civic duties, responsibilities and obligations.
Government cannot bear the entire burden of development all alone. It is on this note that OSUN DEFENDER Magazine makes this clarion call on all and sundry to cooperate with and support the government of the state as well as key in into all the laudable initiatives, projects, programmes, policies and activities of government so that our society would have transformed into the Canaanland of our collective dreams.