Ekiti on right path to economic prosperity ― Osinbajo

• Advises state governors to invest in area of strength

The vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has commended Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, for his giant strides in the last three years, saying his efforts have established the state on a path for economic growth and prosperity.

This was just as the Governor Fayemi, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Godwin Obaseki and Nasir El-Rufai of Ekiti, Lagos, Edo and Kaduna respectively, canvassed robust multi-layers of the policing system in the country, to protect the citizens and investments that can drive development.

Osinbajo who spoke, on Thursday, in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital at the state’s economic development and Investment title, ‘Investment Attractiveness and Economic Development: Lessons for Sub-Nationals ‘ noted that the Federal Government would continue to support the state especially in its area of comparative advantage in a bid to ensure economic growth through investment.

According to the vice president, the state under Fayemi has over the years through deliberate efforts in policies and enactment of relevant laws attracted local and foreign investment into the state, this he said has placed the state in eighteenth in the ranking of state with ease of doing business.

He appealed to the 36 state governors to start making huge investments in areas where they have comparative advantages to shore up their internally generated revenues and stop sole reliance on federal allocations for survival.

Osinbajo, who was one of the panellists, stated that the time has come for the governors to start thinking about how to grow the economy like a nation, by investing in the most appropriate ways in areas of their economic strength.

He said: “The attractiveness of investments to any state should be in radical because that is the revenue hub and determinant of how happy the people of any state will be in terms of economic development in relation to their standard of living.

“But while trying to grow investments, we must be cautious about multiple taxations, it weighs down businesses. Ekiti is a business-friendly environment. Ekiti has also excelled in the aspect of ease of doing business, with the state ranked 18th in the country. You have vast arable lands for agriculture. Also recent, the government of Ekiti divested 76 per cent of shares in the Ikun Dairy farm for Promasidor for the production of 80,000 litres of milk daily.

“Let me say that Ekiti has a bigger economy than many Africa nations. The question we should ask ourselves is; if I were the landlord of this nation, how do we survive? During my time as a Commissioner in Lagos, we started with N600 million monthly Internally Generated Revenue in 1999. The seizure of Lagos funds by former President Olusegun Obasanjo made us think like a sovereign state. Today Lagos is making over N45 billion monthly.

“The surest way forward is to deepen investments in the areas where Ekiti has a comparative advantage. We should also make good investments in technology to grow the knowledge economy, which is education.

“Let me commend the foresightedness of the governor Fayemi to know that the technology is the best way to go. I am even happy that the low in charges of the broadband airwave has already started attracting investments to Ekiti. What is in vogue now is that well-trained people in technology are the game-changers.

“The Afe Babalola University multi-System hospital in Ado Ekiti is now being mentioned internationally. It has made breakthroughs in neurosurgical, surgical, plastic surgery and many other areas of medicine. Many countries don’t have such facility.”

Speaking, Governor Fayemi revealed his administration in the last three years has provided the enabling environment for investors to come to the state, adding that this resulted in over $300 million of investment in the state.

He added that the summit would help in no small measure to improve the economic fortune of the state and that the reports and recommendations would be taken to the State Executive Council meeting towards implementation.

On the lingering security crisis that is gradually crippling the economy, the governor insisted that a multi-level policing system remains the best way out of the present predicament. According to him, “This request does not mean abrogation of the central Police. If you have a problem with security in Kaduna, Governor el-Rufai can easily take charge. My recent experience and many of our governors were not even palatable where we wanted to procure drones and Mr President was with us on the issue but the NSA refused us End User Certificate, but we got it one year after.

“As of now, security is on the exclusive list. Even If the FG is ready to allow us to procure the drones, we have to sign MoU with the Nigerian Airforce for the usage of the drones We have to work together collaboratively, because investors consider security as number one in any state.”

Backing the call for state police, Edo State Governor, Obaseki, said police should be removed from the exclusive list for state Chief executives to be in firm control.

“If you have a business, you have to protect them and you must have the apparatuses. Security is on the exclusive list and we are looking up to the Federal government to remove for states to take charge. We must provide facilities for the police to be able to train our local vigilante, because in Edo State that was what we did. We raised a vigilante group to police our villages from kidnappers and other criminals.”

Speaking about the role of ICT in driving the economy at the subnational level, Obaseki advised that states should use ICT to recast primary education by making the children at that age perceive technology as part of their lives.

Lending his voice to the creation of state police, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said: “When you have investments, you would have to protect them and take also responsibility for whatever happens. The investors will rely on the governors for protection and it is sad that we are not in charge. This is the area where the federal government must look into the issue of state police.”

Sanwo-Olu suggested that the state should digitalise its revenue collection process and give staff in the state Internal Revenue Service incentives to do their jobs without perpetuating corruption.

“You must have robust technology and ensure people don’t collect money with hands. Make sure your money is centrally collected. Also, block all loopholes, encourage your staff by giving them a small bonus, so that they can deliver more. Ekiti has the potential to think like a country,” he said.

On his part, Governor El-Rufai described security as a big problem that every Nigerian should be concerned about.

Laying the foundation for why the policing system should be decentralised, the Kaduna State Governor said: “We have 150,000 personnel in the Nigerian army; Police was 400,000 by the time this government came on board but has gone down to 300,000 now. We need multi-level police. Policing is local just like a unitary environment like Britain.

“Kaduna State is about 46,000sqkms in size. Boko Haram has been chased from the North-East by ISWAP and now occupying the North-West. But if they are dislodged here, where would they go? This is why we should all be concerned.”

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Ekiti on right path to economic prosperity ― Osinbajo

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