Foreign and local investors desirous of investing in Oyo State have been assured of a safe and secure environment, with the state governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, insisting that the state is one of the safest in the country.
The governor gave this indication in an interview with CNBC Africa, on the sidelines of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) 2023, held in Cairo, Egypt, noting that he has been running a responsible and responsive government, which has invested and continues to invest heavily on security.
He added that apart from security, Oyo State has comparative advantages in the areas of its vast landmass, solid road infrastructure network already put in place by his government connecting all zones of the state, solid mineral deposits and tourism.
This was as the governor took part in the signing of an agreement with the AFREXIMBank and Access Bank to enable Oyo State and other states in Nigeria have access to a N500 billion facility for infrastructure development.
Governor Makinde, who pointed out that his government, has, since 2019 when he first assumed office, embarked on a massive infrastructure development drive that has connected all zones of the state, said there are boundless opportunities in the state in the areas of agribusiness, tourism and mining.
He said: “So, in all of these, we are saying, look, investors should come. The major issue that investors may be afraid of, is having a safe and secure environment; I think we have almost passed that hurdle in Oyo State. We are one of the safest states in the country.
“We have invested massively in Security and in terms of a responsive government, I came from a private sector background and I was able to let the investors know that they are coming to a state where government business is handled with a dispatch.”
Governor Makinde maintained that as part of his government’s infrastructure development plan, the first phase of the 110 kilometres Ibadan Circular Road, which is the 32 kilometres connecting the Eastern part of the state, has been progressing well.
He expressed excitement that AFREXIM Bank is engaging directly with sub-nationals, stating that Oyo State would take advantage of the opportunity by using its part of the loan to continue the 110km Ibadan Circular Road and the extension of the Ibadan Airport runway, which is part of its efforts to have the airport upgraded to an international standard.
He said, “For us in Oyo State, we are quite happy that AFREXIM Bank is having direct engagement with the sub-national and we want to take that advantage. That was the reason I travelled down here to Cairo.
“So far, it has been a rewarding engagement as I pitched Oyo State to them and told them that Oyo State, with over 28,000 square km, is probably bigger than a lot of African countries, twelve of them at least. With also big arable land, agribusiness is a major focus for us.
“We have done quite a bit in the last four years, connecting all the zones we have in the state, and we want to expand our economy now that the solid foundation has been laid for infrastructure and connectivity. Now, we want to look at intra-zonal roads and one of the big projects that have been pitched here is the Circular Road.
“On the circular road, we have actually started the first segment of the 110km, which is 32kilomiters connecting the Eastern part of the State. People that have traveled around Oyo State will tell you that they have seen the connecting bridges and interchanges.
“So, we have put our money where our mouth is. As a state, we have bitten the bullet and what we are looking for now is for investors to basically get us through the hub. We were well received and the responses have been very positive.”
The governor equally explained that his administration’s focus on tourism, solid mineral development and agribusiness have all combined to make the state a haven of opportunities for investors, saying: “Also, I was able to pitch mining to the people because Oyo State is blessed with solid minerals like lithium, and gemstones as we have the biggest marble deposit in Igbeti.
“We also have tourism as a focus. You know, this is an international conference center here that they call the New Cairo and it is very similar to what we are doing in Oyo State, which we call ‘New City’ meaning ‘Ilu Tuntun’. It is a new business district being built around the rail corridor in Moniya.
“In terms of agro-processing, we have the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub in Oyo. We have constructed the road linking the Oyo zone to the Oke-Ogun zone. So, it is basically done and Oyo State is approved as a special agro-processing zone.
“We also have other farm estates at Eruwa coming up shortly and there is another one around the Ogbomoso axis. So, by and large, I think the investors are listening to us and they are excited about the opportunities that exist in Oyo State.”
Governor Makinde, who stated that his government was able to achieve over 80 per cent of his vision as contained in the roadmap for accelerated development, 2019-2023, said the people of the state would be able to track his government’s achievements between now and 2027 through the roadmap for sustainable development, 2023-2027.
He added that as the state approaches 2027, the administration would be able to produce a long-term document on the sustainable development of the state beyond 2027.
Chief Press Secretary to Oyo State Governor
November 19, 2023.