Many economic analysts have attributed the industrial growth recorded in the State during the past years to its close proximity to Lagos, a situation that continued to put Ogun behind Lagos economically as it depended on having the challenge of limited space in Lagos to ‘push’ the industries into Ogun State. This connotes that, Ogun State was not indeed the first choice of destination for investors.
Governor Abiodun’s promise to make the State truly investors’ first choice of destination through the pull strategy which provides the needed enabling environment and also position it as Nigeria’s economic capital may be some form of hope.
The government says as part of its pull strategy it would establish industrial hubs across the State to attract more investors with a plan to engage the service of an investment banker and also improve the ease of doing business in the State. According to the World Bank, the State is currently among the top five States in the country on the ease of doing business. If the new administration truly wants the State to become Nigeria’s economic capital it needs to make it the number one State on the ease of doing business.
The Governor has also promised to address the infrastructural deficit in the State, connecting industries, raw materials and the markets through construction of more rural and access roads thereby making sure that industries domiciled in rural settings can easily operate from their locations while their employees can stay in those areas due to the availability of required amenities. A reality before the Abiodun-led administration is the fact that many areas where industries are located were not given adequate attention considering the level of taxes derived from such companies. That narrative must change and the industries must optimally feel the impact of the taxes they pay.
Also, the Governor has already read the riot act to criminals, threatening to make the State exceedingly hot for them to carry out their nefarious acts as his administration is ready to give adequate support to the security network. Any form of criminality must not be given room to thrive in the State irrespective of whose ox is gored if the results of all other efforts are to manifest as desired.
Another issue is the complaints of multiple or over-taxation among industrialists in the State. Indeed, the governor has acknowledged many of the challenges facing the industries noting that many of the Industries had prayed for him to get elected so that they do not close shop.
Governor Abiodun will do well to learn from the life of the Biblical King Rehoboam who refused to ease the plight of his people. This must be stressed in view of media reports credited to President Muhammadu Buhari asking Governors of all the States in the Federation to raise their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) without disruption to business operations. In trying to follow the President’s advice the Ogun State government must be careful not to increase the burden on industries that are still trying to grow.
With this in mind, Governor Abiodun must see to it that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are given the needed support to grow through the provision of enabling environment and supporting such enterprises to optimally access necessary help from the Bank of Industry . An Agency like the Ogun State Agricultural and Multipurpose Credit Agency (OSAMCA) should be adequately empowered to provide the needed credit support to MSMEs while beneficiaries must reciprocate government gesture through prompt repayment of loans.
While the Governor’s promises on the industrial sector gives an indication that he means well for the State, it is the effective and efficient implementation of these promises in a timely manner that will help the new administration achieve its targets especially in terms of making it the nation’s economic capital.
As the Governor is fulfilling his promises, as we hope, every stakeholder in the sector must understand that achieving the goals of the present administration in the Industrial sector can only be possible by giving the government the needed support as the current industrial target is a task for all.
Olawale Osunbiyi writes-in from Kobape Road, Abeokuta [email protected] 07037238254.