• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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We’ve built strong institutions that’ll make Oyo thrive – Makinde

We’ve built strong institutions that’ll make Oyo thrive – Makinde

Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, recently took the Nigerian Guild of Editors on a tour of completed and ongoing projects in the state to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his government, where he spoke on the achievements of his administration across the four service-point agenda. Remi Feyisipo brings the excerpts:

May we know how many megawatts this Independent Power Project generates?

This Power Plant was constructed during the time of Pa Obafemi Awolowo but it had become moribund by the time we came in. There was nothing to salvage. Now, we have a proof of concept again. This is supposed to be 11 megawatts. One megawatt is solar and that is why you have the solar panels. The remaining 10 megawatts will run on Compressed Natural Gas.

We just signed a deal with Shell for the construction of a Gas Infrastructure in Oyo State. Once we have that sorted, then we can extend the pipeline to this place.

The facility is designed to power the entire Secretariat, the Government House, about 12 health care facilities, a selection of schools and the public lighting within the catchment area.

The intention is that when we have this, it will spill over to the residences and businesses in the state so that we can be guaranteed of 24 hours electricity. This also fits into the decentralisation of the power sector, which happened recently in this country, and we believe that Oyo State has been at the front of that charge to ensure that we have electricity security.

Where did the idea of the Omololu Olunloyo Leisure Park come from?

Sometime ago, we went to Rwanda and we took a city tour. They took us to the Genocide Museum. But apart from that, they just put us on the bus and said this is so and so market; you can get anything you want here. They took us to another place and said this is so and so market, you can get what you want and those markets were basically like Mokola, Orita-Aperin Markets.

In Oyo State, we can put people in a bus and take them round our tourist sites. So, that is basically the idea behind Omololu Olunloyo Park, which is meant to project a little bit of our culture and also recreation.

You can have your wedding pictures here and the pictures will go round the world and people will be asking you which part of the world are you in?

We have put in place here indoor and outdoor event facilities. We have this big arena that has historic statues of heroes and heroines of Ibadan, who have shown extraordinary courage and demonstrate the artistry and musical prowess known within the city.

The Senator Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road is a great project, what do you want to achieve here?

[On the Interchange] This is a state road and below this flyover is the Ibadan-Ife Expressway, a federal road. We have designed that this corridor will be exotic. It won’t be native at all and the road itself will be tolled for maintenance. Up until this moment, we have committed about N120 billion. You can also see ahead that the bush clearance is ongoing for the North-East Wing, which will connect from Ife-Ibadan Expressway to Moniya.

You will be able to drive this entire 32 kilometres South-East stretch within the next 10 to 11 months. We are not paying for this massive project through the planned toll on it. But we will be paying for it with the real estate we are developing on the right and left sides of it; 500 metres to the right and 500metres to the left would be controlled and planned and developed into a first world environment.

We won’t allow you to go in there and build shanties. And apart from the designated entry and exit points, you cannot get on this road, so land-grabbers will think twice, because it is when there is a road going through that they can start land-grabbing. No, it won’t work here, because the first exit from a particular point is about 6km away. So, when you drive 6km, you exit and start building infrastructure from that place all the way back here again, and everything is planned. If you are not supposed to be there, you won’t be there.

The entire stretch is 110km but we think this administration will only be able to complete about 70km. The people coming behind us also have the opportunity to complete the remaining 40km. We have named the entire stretch after a former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja.

Agriculture is a top priority of your administration. The Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub is a large complex. May we know what is going on here?

We went to Israel and they were showing us around the parks, which are known as Kibbutz. I asked them how many farmers they have in the whole of Israel, and they laughed at me. But they answered and told me they have 10,000 farmers. Israel is a major player in agribusiness in the entire world.

So, when I came into government, I asked how many farmers we have in Oyo State and they said we had 10,000 farmers. I requested their contact numbers and the figure reduced. When I also requested the location of their farms, the figure further reduced to 5,000. I personally verified the number they gave me and the figure reduced again to about 2,000. So, quite frankly, it is not about the number. If I have 10 quality farmers, we will feed this state.

That was what led to the decision to do agriculture differently; focusing on agribusiness.

Oyo State sits on a land as big as Rwanda as a country. Our land mass is bigger than the South-East of Nigeria. So, if we are to cultivate 20 per cent of the 70 per cent arable land in this state, with the statistics that we have been given as to what a smallholder farmer cultivates, we will need four million farmers to do 20 per cent of the arable land in this state. Where are we going to get the four million farmers from? So, we knew there was something wrong with the approach we had been adopting before now as far as agriculture is concerned, not only in Oyo State but across the country.

The second thing is that agriculture has gone beyond just the cutlasses and hoes. Now, we have over 60-years-old people who are smallholder farmers and it is difficult for them to imbibe innovations. So, for us to be able to increase productivity, we knew that we need innovation, technology and new actors across the whole of the value chain – from production to the markets. What we have done is to create that system that can drive the new actors into the sector and that is what we are seeing here today at the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub. We deliberately picked the Fasola Farm Estate, which had been left to ruin by successive governments, as a pilot for our agribusiness development plan. The outcome of that decision is the world class facility you are seeing here today.

In here, we have different factories and facilities and every single facility that you are looking at was built by the Oyo State government with the exception of what you are looking at over there in terms of greenhouses. What we did was that we built all these on two hectares of land after we did an analysis of what is required for a space of land required for a factory. For every single one that has been built, we requested companies to come and take it over and now we have eight companies here.

Out of the eight companies, two of them are going to be processing cashew. Two of them are processing cassava. Three of them are going to be working on dairy products, while one of them is working on vegetables. So, that is it about the analysis.

Now, if you look further, you will see cleared lands. Over there, over 100 hectares of maize has just been planted. The plan is to plant over 300 hectares of maize. It is not us as a state; a private company is going to be planting it.

You will also find over 100 hectares of cassava that has been planted there. The IITA platform Generative and GOSEED Vegetative Ltd has the 100 hectares for cassava value chain development. Now, the cassava planted here is a bit unique, because it is not just about the tubers. The cassava is very important because across the whole of Nigeria, what you have in terms of the planting materials that you use are materials that are probably 16 years old and if you are using such material, the reality in science is that the result you will be getting is about 4 to 5tonnes per hectare.

So, what we have done is to attack productivity, which is becoming a challenge, and that is one of the reasons we have the 100 hectares of cassava farm in Gate 1. The materials you have there are what we call the Early Generation planting materials, which is the stem. They are just two yields. These materials will give you 20 tonnes per hectare. These materials are not just meant for the space that they were planted in this hub, by the time they are harvested; we are already working with what we call out-growers within this community. The stems will be cut, they will plant them and that will give you the other second generation and the same second generation will give you over 20tonnes per hectare.

Our desire is that we will take all those into each region of the state. By the time you do that, our analysis shows that we will be able to support close to 19,000 cassava farmers within the state, which is huge. This is because it also increases production as well. We are already doing the same for soya beans and maize as well.

What we are doing inside the Fasola Agribusiness Hub is to use our own resources to stimulate the private sector to come into the space. I can say it openly that the investment we put in here as a state, what the private sector has brought in here is more than one hundred per cent of it. In other words, if what we have invested here is one billion, what we are finding here is almost N3.5bn. It is part of the investment they brought, which is not what the state will be spending its money on. What we spend our money on is to bring the private sector to come with their investment into the state. The current cumulative investment of the private sector in that hub is over N10 billion. This is expected to grow to N20 billion within the next year.

How is it that companies are rushing to subscribe to the Fasola Agribusiness Hub; what is the attraction?

Inside the Hub, you could see that dairy, which is a major issue in the country, is being given attention. There are three major companies within this Hub that are dairy companies – we have FrieslandCampina WAMCO, which has 200 hectares out there for dairy production, Milkin Barn Agro Services Ltd, which has 150 hectares for maize cultivation and dairy production and the E4 Farms with 40 hectares for crop and dairy production.

There is also the Brownhill Farms with 30 hectares for crop production and greenhouses and Zigma Ltd with 37 hectares for cashew production.

Among the three dairy companies, they have over 900 lactating cows and these are not just ordinary cows.

Let me also say that through this Hub, we will be able to finally address the issue of farmers/herders clashes. In here, you will see the Brachiaria field of over one hundred hectares of land that has been planted, harvested and grown again. It means that the grass can grow in Nigeria. What happens here is that the animals here don’t graze all over the place. So, what we are also saying is that it is possible for you to have a ranch.

There is a ranch here that has been built since 1968. It means that if we had continued to maintain the system, a lot of the crises that have taken place over grazing would not have occurred.

Your administration seems to have done great on road infrastructure; could you please speak on some of such projects?

Our administration has remained focused on the big picture. We knew that if we were to reduce poverty in rural areas significantly, we needed to open up those areas through road interconnectivity.

From Omituntun 1.0, we focused on linking all our zones. We completed the 65 km Moniya-Ijaiye-Iseyin Road. Some of you were with us two years ago to see that project; you experienced the 65km drive. But the road infrastructure in that corridor has now been extended by another 34.8km Oyo-Iseyin Road and the 76.7km Ogbomoso-Fapote-Iseyin road, which was named after former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala. We have just driven on the 34.85km Oyo-Iseyin Road, a federal road that was constructed by the state.

We have done more roads. We delivered the 12.5 km Challenge-Odo Ona Elewe-Elebu-Apata Road Dualisation, now renamed Theophilus Akinyele Way, and the dualisation of the 8.2 km Agodi Gate-Old Ife Road-Adegbayi Road, including an underpass at Onipepeye area. In total, we completed 152.92 km of road projects in the first year of Omituntun 2.0 and that is in addition to over 150km constructed in our first term. We are also currently reconstructing the 48 km Ido-Eruwa Road to link Ibadan and Ibarapa Zones, among other road projects.

The real impact of these road constructions is that Oyo State is fast becoming a regional agribusiness industrial hub, which is what you can see here at Fasola. The industries located here provide jobs for our local population. Our modest estimate is that the operations in this place will provide 1,500 direct and indirect new jobs and support 7,000 smallholder farmers.

You have always said that security and building strong institutions are very important to your administration. What are you doing in those areas?

For us, economic prosperity would mean nothing in an insecure environment. While we have been able to take you round projects, let me tell you that all these would not have been possible without security. So, in this state, we have put security on the front burner and have continued to prioritise the safety of our people. In the first year of Omituntun 2.0, we supported the security agencies with the resources they need to continue to keep our dear State safe and secure. We procured and handed over 135 additional operational vehicles fully equipped with modern communication gadgets.

Also, we have been conscientious in building strong institutional frameworks that can guarantee the continued prosperity of our state. This is one promise I have given to my people; that we will continue to build strong institutions in our dear state. I have said it time and again that we do not need strong governors, what we need are strong institutions.

So, here in Oyo State, we have built institutions for posterity. We were able to visit only one earlier, and that is the Oyo State Mobilisation Agency for Socio-Economic Development (OYMASED). As I informed you at the agency’s office, its job is to sensitise our people and mobilise them to achieve the economic, political and social change that our state needs.

We have other agencies, such as the Oyo State Project Monitoring Agency, the Oyo State Rule of Law Authority, the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), the Oyo State Anti-Corruption Agency (OYACA) and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, which were all created by our government. These are the institutions of the future; they will play pivotal roles in the engineering of a modern Oyo State, working with existing ministries, departments, and agencies.