Prince Dapo Abiodun, Governor of Ogun State
I almost feel compelled to give a reaction to the News of a proposed Airport (read-only in Nigeria Transport Hub with the headline, Ogun to boost agro industry with the establishment of an airport city) that will be designed to meet the special needs of the Agricultural Sector and Farmers in Ogun State, especially from the perspective of promptly evacuating Harvested Produce to Markets, Consumers, those who will process and add more value to it, elsewhere, inter alia.
This sounds lofty and seems laudable on the face of it. More importantly, it is intended to be a “money – spinner”, Cash Cow, or a big source of internally generated revenue for the Government of Ogun State, in these austere times when Federal Allocations of Funds from Abuja to State Governments, Local Governments, and various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, are dwindling.
We must also be reminded about the Foreign and Local Debts being incurred to Finance the deficits in our Annual [Public Sector] Budgets. In this outgoing year 2020 alone, the federal government borrowed from World Bank and International Finance Corporation, IFC, over USD11.5billion. Reports emanating from the Central Bank of Nigeria, give indications of a significant percentage of Bad Debts, Toxic Loans, and/or Non – Performing Loans in Local Banks. The foregoing point will however be treated in detail on another day (perhaps in another medium too).
What Are The True Or Perceived Economic Strengths Of Ogun State [To A Very Great Extent, Perception Is Reality!]
A decision is only as good as the information upon which it is based. Economic Planning, proper Feasibility Analysis, and Viability Studies, also begin with asking the right questions.
The Ota Industrial Complex: It has started to attract the envy of the Lagos State Government. One of the catalysts that accelerated its establishment and growth was the Friendly Taxation Policies of successive Governments in Ogun State, not forgetting relatively easier allocation of Land to genuine applicants.
Large deposits of Limestone, which is important for the Cement Manufacturing Industry. Ogun State has been a Home for Elephant Cement Company (in foreign partnership with the Blue Circle Group of UK?), now replaced by Lafarge Wapco Cement (with French connections).
Tourist Sites such as the Olumo Rock in Abeokuta City. There are other sites, sounds, and destinations related to the progenitors of some major Ethnic Groups in Ogun State, e.g. the Egbas and the Ijebus, as well as the old Yoruba Wars. I can remember two past heroes, viz. Lisabi and Sodeke.
Geological Terms, Ogun State is known for having large deposits of Igneous Rocks, such as Granite. This has attracted a number of organizations in the Quarry Industry to the place. Blasting of Rocks with explosives to produce coarse aggregates of various sizes and shapes for the Construction Industry is a familiar activity in Ogun State.
Peasant and subsistence Farming, especially for the production of Cassava Tubers and Yam Tubers is also among the known strengths of Ogun State. The foregoing are staple food items in Ogun State. Lafun (or Amala Funfun) made from Cassava is still a popular delicacy among Egba people in Abeokuta and in most parts of Western Nigeria. I can confirm from first – hand experience that it is delicious when served with vegetable soup, Ewedu, and so on. Likewise Ikokore, a type of porridge/pottage made from Yam, often served with (Sawa) Fish, is still a delicacy among Ijebus at Home and Abroad. I must not forget to mention Gari, which is made from fermented and baked cassava. It is another staple food item, which is now popular in most of South – Western states of Nigeria.
Commercial large scale Farming earned a reputation in Ota, Ogun State, from the activities of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired General, who has been our Military as well as Civilian Head of State in Nigeria. This dates back to ‘Operation Feed The Nation’ [i.e. ‘O.F.N.’] that he promoted actively around 1978, just before he voluntarily handed over to the Civilian Government of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari in 1979 (and retired from the Army). The foregoing act of his was almost unprecedented on the African Continent when it happened.
Presence of many Educational Establishments. Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta, O.O.U. Ago – Iwoye, Nigerian Navy Secondary School Abeokuta, Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, Federal Government College Odogbolu, Adeola Odutola College Ijebu – Ode, Ijebu – Ode Grammar School, are just a few that readily come to mind.
Among very good Educational Establishments that have found a Home in Ogun State are the privately owned Bells University, Ota, and the Faith-based, Covenant University Ota, Crescent University in Abeokuta, Ogun State
The Health Sector, the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, near the City of Abeokuta, is known far and wide as a centre of excellence for the treatment of Mental Illness(es). The founding fathers and early Consultants that worked therein include people like Professor Thomas Adeoye Lambo and Professor Tolani Asuni.
Regarding Psychological Medicine, the World Health Organization has defined (good) Health, as not just being the mere absence of disease or infirmity, but the complete physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of an individual.
A recent News Analysis said that in Nigeria, we have less than one Psychiatrist per 100,000 Population [i.e. One Hundred Thousand]. Even when a person and his/her loved ones are not worried about the stigma associated with suspected Mental Illness, and seek help, how accessible is it to them? If the Ogun State Ministry of Health collaborates with the appropriate Department in the Federal Ministry of Health, a lot can be achieved in this direction.
In a similar vein, Medical Researchers are still investigating the apparent miracle of the high incidence of Multiple Births, especially Twins and Triplets, around the ERUWA, Lanlate and Igboora, in the Ibarapa axis, which are somewhere along the border between Ogun State and Oyo State.
Religion Tourism: Prayer Houses are besieged for help over what may be mere manifestations of economic stress in these austere times. If we take a Head Count (or Census) of visitors to the Monthly Camp Meeting of saying the Redeemed Christian Church of God, as well as Prayer City of the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, both along the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway (bordering between Ogun State and Lagos State), assume that a Hypothetical Ten Per Cent [i.e. 10%] of these Religious Devotees may benefit from modern Psychological Medicine, Therapy, and Counselling, just imagine the implication for Hospital Registration Fees alone.
The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), led by Prophet T. B. Joshua, has recently announced plans to construct a Five Star Standard Residential Guest House for important personalities that need to spend time in Lagos, whilst seeking spiritual help.
Appropriate Fees will of course be charged for those who want comfort and luxury during their stay. If El Zakyzaky, the head of an Islamic Sect in Nigeria demanded to be moved to a nearby hotel, whilst on oversea Medical Treatment in India (but was refused for security reasons), the Facilities at Aro can be upgraded to meet various Budget sizes of Patients.
Those who want to try the Herbal Medicine approach of Traditional Healers may also be provided with that option at an expanded/upgraded Aro Hospital. Other major Towns in Ogun State may have Annexes of the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital built there.
The beauty of Agriculture: Agriculture as a Business exudes and shines when mechanization and modern Farming Techniques are applied. Relying on handheld tools such as the hoe and cutlass, may not take us very far. Neither will dependence on natural rainfall for moisture. The vagaries and uncertainties of the weather will make most providers of Agricultural Insurance Policies charge very high Premiums.
The tropical rain forest region in which we have Ogun State is troubled by big roots of trees, not forgetting stones/rocks, which hamper the functioning of a lot of moving/motorized equipment (the blades, and so on). The Savanah belt of Nigeria, where former Governor Dr Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, hosted the ‘expelled’ white Zimbabwean Farmers, maybe a little more attractive for large scale commercial Farming.
Breeding of Animals/Livestock Farming in the South – Western parts of Nigeria also requires the close attention of qualified Veterinary Doctors. The tsetse fly that causes or transmits sleeping sickness to human beings also affects many animals.
Prayer Houses are besieged these days with persons from all strata of society seeking spiritual help; whereas the real problem may be psychiatric health challenges related to economic stress! Our socio-cultural milieus in Nigeria, for instance, makes many men uncomfortable when their spouses earn significantly higher income(s) than they do or when they are unemployed ‘House Husbands’. Those wealthy women seeking the ‘Fruit of the Womb’ are also willing to pay any price to become Mothers. There are Media Reports, from time to time of how unscrupulous persons exploit this natural female instinct in all sorts of ways. These range from obtaining money under false pretenses, to having an “illicit taste” of what is reserved for the lawfully wedded Husband of such desperate women.
These are just points to help the decision-making process of Policy Makers in Ogun State in making a choice of where to concentrate their efforts, in the necessary search for more sources of Internally Generated Revenue, IGR
That Which Cannot Be Measured, cannot [Easily] Be Managed:
What Is the Annual Agricultural Output Per Local Government Area In Ogun State, Measured In Tonnes? Which Ones Can Be Stored Without Refrigeration, And Which Ones Are Highly Perishable? How Will the Proposed Airport Project Be Funded?
Mr Peter Drucker is one of the great Management Thinkers of our time. This line of logical reasoning is attributed to him. The seven (i.e. 7 Nos.) areas of strength of Ogun State, which have been rapidly identified above may be more amenable to measurement as well as quick development into greater sources of revenue in just about five to six areas.
Agriculture will be struggling very hard to find a place among the “shortlist”! In Jos, Plateau State, there are unconfirmed reports that sustainable foreign Markets have been found for Flowers, in general, and Roses in particular. The already existing Airport in Jos City will definitely support and enhance this exotic farming and trading activity. Incurable Romantics always appreciate Flowers as an expression of affection. Many Ladies in Nigeria till today will tell their admirers, ‘when you care to send the very best, please SEND CASH’.
An effective and efficient means of Public Transportation, especially good Highway and Railway Infrastructure are indispensable for normal Business Activity, Trade and Commerce, the smooth running of Government, etc. It may be likened to the flow of blood through the Veins and Arteries of a Human Being, wherein a mere (Blood) Clot, if left unattended may cause the cessation of life.
Pursuing the objective of a specialized Airport for Agriculture in these circumstances may be illustrated with the anecdote of a Native Doctor (Onisegun or Babalawo) and/or Medical Doctor Trained in Orthodox Medicine, who has left Leprosy untreated and is concentrating all his efforts on curing ‘Ring Worm’, which is a superficial skin problem [in the Yoruba language; “won fi ete si’le, won npa lapa-lapa”]!
The city of Lagos, which is endowed with the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, is less than One Hundred and Fifty Kilometers away from Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. Ibadan, the Capital City of Oyo State, which shares a common border with Ogun State, also has an [underutilized] Airport. What if we join the dots between all these points, or do what Mathematicians call an ‘Interpolation’ to get a smooth Graph that we can read for conclusions, which may not be so apparent?
These are just a few points humbly presented to guide the decision-making process of Policy Makers in Ogun State in making a choice of where to concentrate their efforts, in the necessary search for more sources of internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
Please accept my best wishes for the last month of the year 2020. God will protect us from the perils and dangers of December. [Osu December yi, ko ni di wa mo eru lo]; Amen.
Long Live the Government and People of Ogun State!!!
May God Continue to Grant Wisdom to His Excellency, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State.
Thank you for your time.
Written by: –
Engr. Afolabi O. ADEDEJI
M.Sc. (Construction Management), Executive MBA, FNSE, FCMI
The Managing Consultant/CEO
Afolabi Adedeji & Associates [AA&A]
(Consulting & Training in Facilities Management, Etc.)
Victoria Island, Lagos. 08034725858
Key Words / Phrases
Socio-Economic Costs & Benefits
Political Liability [Avoidance of]
Effective & Efficient Transportation [of Agricultural Produce, Goods, Persons, and Services]
Comparative Economic Advantage (Building Upon Your Strengths)
Economic Planning, Feasibility, and Viability Studies
Debt Burden [Versus Responsible Borrowing]
What You Measure, You Can Manage Much Better (Source: Mr. Peter Drucker)
Being On The ‘Same Page’ With The People . . . The Media Can Help!