• Monday, June 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Don’t blame me for relocation of Dangote refinery from Ogun state, says Ibikunle Amosun

Don’t blame me for relocation of Dangote refinery from Ogun state, says Ibikunle Amosun

Former governor of Ogun state Ibikunle Amosun has dismissed suggestions that he is to blame for the relocation of the recently commissioned Dangote refinery from the Olokola free trade zone to Lekki in Lagos state and says his successor Dapo Abiodun has a case to answer in respect of the matter.

In a statement Wednesday, Amosun said as governor he had appointed the current governor and the former finance minister Kemi Adeosun into a panel to handle the negotiation with Dangote Group and other parties.

On Tuesday, Kunle Somorin spokesman for Governor Abiodun claimed that “the then governor (Amosun) perhaps having a personal axe to grind with the promoter of the refinery project, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, frustrated all the efforts of Governor Abiodun and his committee.”

However, according to a statement issued on behalf of Amosun, “let me put it straight: The Olokola Free Trade Zone project was not solely owned by Ogun State. From its conception in 2007, it was a Joint Venture. The Federal Government of Nigeria owned the majority 51%, Ondo State Goverment (14.5%), Ogun State Goverment (14.5%), and strategic core investors (20%). Alhaji Aliko Dangote, according to the information availed us when we took office, subsequently bought, and took over the 20% equity of the core investors. Ogun State was a minority equity stakeholder only, without proprietary strength and capacity to take sole decisions on the Joint Venture enterprise.

“Ogun State, under my leadership, went beyond and above duty and did all we could to ensure that the project saw the light of day. As Governor at the time, I appointed two (2) carefully chosen stakeholders of Ogun East/Ogun Waterside Local Government extraction to represent Ogun State’s interests on the joint venture enterprise and advise the State. These were Dapo Abiodun (now Governor) and Mrs Kemi Adeosun, then Commissioner for Finance, who incidentally hailed from the host Community of the Olokola project. After Mrs. Adeosun was elevated and became a minister, another son of Ogun East, Lekan Onamusi, took charge and represented Ogun State on the Joint Venture.

“Based on the advice of our representatives on the project, we engaged the majority equity holder, FGN and our joint venture partner, Ondo State Government, who were very responsive and eager to have the project in Olokola Free Trade Zone. We also vigorously engaged Alhaji Aliko Dangote and did everything possible to make the enterprise take off. A total of 10,000 hectares of land was made available. As mere holder of 14.5% equity interest, it is most uncharitable for anyone to churn out lies that Ogun State was in a position to unilaterally frustrate the project or was responsible for the logjam. With respect to all sides, it accords more with logic to appreciate the fact that Alhaji Aliko Dangote took business decisions of his own in accordance with the goals of his business strategy and risk assessment.

“Our position was that, at the minimum, 500 hectares from the Ogun State portion be reserved for the host Community, Ogun Waterside, as against ceding the entire land of the Olokola Free Trade Zone. Indeed, at some point and at my instance, our revered Elders, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and Kabiyesi Awujale, Oba Sikiru Adetona were involved, where we all met to ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone.

Read also: Dangote Refinery: A tribute to Nigerian banks

“Looking back to my time in Ogun State, I remain immensely grateful to God and the good people of our State for the opportunities availed us. Our records of achievements remain incontrovertible. We opened the State to genuine entrepreneurs and investors, which led to the influx of massive private-sector investments. We also paid serious attention to the security of lives and properties. Over 200 industries, both local and multinational, birthed in Ogun State. In a particular year during our time, 75% of the entire National FDI in the real sector birthed in Ogun State so much so that President Goodluck Jonathan saw the need to visit to commission significant private sector-led projects at least five (5) times. Ogun State, under my watch, was indeed investor-friendly, and investors’ destination of choice as Ogun State literally became the Industrial Capital of Nigeria. Ogun State’s economy, at the time, grew faster than the national average. No amount of concocted lies, blackmail and orchestrated falsehood will blight these unparalleled facts.

“It is, therefore, interesting to read that the present Ogun State governor holds me responsible for allegedly scuttling the Olokola project. For the benefit of the good people of Ogun State, Nigerians and posterity, we challenge him, particularly as he was then the chairman appointed to oversee and ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone, to disclose with facts, where he or the Administration was remiss, and which might have led to the project being moved away from Ogun State.”