By Samson Owoyokun
We live in interesting but frankly difficult times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that currently has the world as its jugular.
Nigeria, the world’s most populous black nation, is not immune to the ongoing human and economic destruction caused by the pandemic that still has no curative solution in sight.
Unsurprisingly, the global crude oil market is undergoing a major shock, which has invariably caused a significant drop in the petrodollar, which is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
As a result of the drastic reduction in Nigeria’s profits from the sales of its crude oil, revenues to the federation’s 36 states have also fallen, forcing states to look inward to increase their internally generated revenues.
Osun, a state dubbed primarily for civil servants, with many public and privately owned tertiary institutions, but with only one notable manufacturing company in Ilesa. In his determination to promote industrial harmony, the state governor, Gboyega Oyetola has kept his pact regarding the punctual and timely payment of full salaries to both civil servants and retirees despite the huge accumulated FAAC deductions. monthly to the state. . Analysts have cited his professional background as a financial reengineering wizard to be the catalyst for this astonishing feat.
Oyetola has put the governance on a firm path of progress, managing essential social services in health through the revitalization of 332 primary health care centers and the improvement of general hospitals, revitalizing the educational system, ensuring peaceful coexistence among people. and improving the state security apparatus through both conventional and unconventional suits (Amotekun); These are the propellants and enablers towards progressive growth and development to industrialize Osun, which is the foresight of the Ilerioluwa prodigy.
Therefore, as a result of the above, Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola, a former boardroom expert with years of related experience, has repeatedly emphasized the fragile economy of the 29-year-old state, both in his statement and in his keynote address on June 5 and November 27, 2018, respectively, to bring innovative new ideas to transform the state toward abundance and prosperity for all by focusing on three thematic areas: agriculture, tourism, and mining codenamed Osun ATM.
The governor unveiled the tripartite economic agenda during the Osun economic and investment summit that he organized in November 2019, it was an eye-opening three-day event that unleashed the immeasurable potentials embedded below and on the surface of the soil of Osun, the achievements of the summit are already being reflected in the economy: although it is not uhuru yet, there is a significant boost in agriculture as a 507 hectare private initiative from the konnect limited farm was docked in Wasinmi, local government area from Irewole of the state, which will take a thousand unemployed youth off the streets, another $ 10 million from African Red Ridge in the rice revolution in sight. For the first time in thirteen years, one of Osun’s seventeen rusty and dusty mining titles brought in N100m as an entry fee under Oyetola’s pragmatic leadership.
The first to fourth quarter of 2019 was impressive, with a notable increase of 56.4% over the previous year, which amounted to N17.9 billion, an outstanding feat in a business calendar year for the first time in Osun. Oyetola’s magic wands expanded the tax network, plugged tax leaks, automated and digitized IGR collection components, strengthened fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, granted administrative autonomy to the state IRS. He has made it a trademark for his final comments everywhere that he will continue to market Osun to local and foreign investors until there is a revolutionary trend in the state’s economic dynamics in the agri-food, processing and manufacturing sectors.
Furthermore, the governor recently reiterated his convictions about a functioning Osun economy during an inaugural virtual public conference organized by the Ministry of Regional Integration and Special State Duties under the leadership of Olalekan Abdulrahaman Badmus to herald the 29th anniversary of the state’s creation. He spoke on the subject ”Unbundling Osun’s potential towards prosperity in agriculture, tourism and mining.
The governor took the occasion of the virtual engagement to reveal some of the key achievements of his administration in the last 21 months since he took office as state helmsman, saying that repositioning the state economy is his top priority. He promised to recover lost business opportunities for the state. He assures everyone interested in doing business with Osun that their investment will be religiously guided. He publicized the amenities, infrastructure, conducive atmosphere, and accommodating spirit of our people to make any business prosper.
Going forward, the Governor declared that agriculture, tourism and mining will be the engine room of his economic governance agenda. Its commissioners for agriculture and food security, culture and tourism, Adedayo Adewole and Dr. Obawale Adebisi, did not fail to impress participants on the key milestones of their ministries and the projections and revitalization of Osun’s economy across the three key sectors.
Due to his illustrious private sector experience spanning decades of pristine practice, the Governor knows the vitality of specialists in updating any management policy. Hence, in trying to achieve their goals, the three invited speakers at the event, including IITA Ibadan Director General Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, represented by Dr. Richard Okechukwu, a tourism expert, Chiamaka Ifediora and former Special Assistant of the former Minister. of Petroleum, Najim Animashaun, spoke extensively about the need for the state to properly harness its potentials in the areas of agriculture, tourism and mining.
For Okechukwu, IITA station chief in Onne, Rivers State, the relationship between IITA and Osun is one of brothers. He said that for Africa to fix its food problems, Africans must fix the systems, technology, policies, political will, financing, marketing components and infrastructure. He said all of these must come down to Osun to unleash its enormous potentials in the state.
Against the above, Dr. Okechukwu said that a good master plan is key to achieving the stated goals. He argued that there is a need for a good agricultural master plan that can be institutionalized to survive government after government; that will be approved into law by the Legislative Assembly so that any government that enters, continues to press, saying that this will help solve the problem of the political somersault that has held back the State for a long time and that in the process kills good ideas. “A four-year tenure is not enough to solve the problems of a sector that has gone bad for a long time. The policy flip destabilizes farmers and investors in the value chain, ”he said.
Continuing, the researcher said that the solution of agricultural problems in Osun goes beyond the ministry of agriculture itself. The ministries of education, water resources, commerce and industries, finance, works, transport and housing, health, environment, human resources, information, local government and chief affairs, women’s affairs, regional integration, youth and sports, science and technology must adopt certain policy changes and their specific contributions must be mentioned in the master plan.
In order for Oyetola to achieve its noble goals in agriculture, it is necessary that agricultural mechanization attracts young people and also the usefulness of improved seeds cannot be overemphasized, since a great quality control is necessary to eliminate false herbicides and deficient and insecticides. Access to credit for farmers and those involved in agriculture-related businesses is also key. Osun really needs more micro, small and medium enterprises to thrive.
Dr. Okechukwu also insisted on the need for proper tracking and recording of agricultural products leaving Osun every year. Such data, he presented, can be used to forecast, plan and negotiate with local and international partners. Summing up his position on the issue, he said that it is necessary to end multiple taxes and seek subsidies for farmers, and asked Governor Oyetola to embark on aggressive land reforms that will allow more people to enter the agricultural space.
Chiamamaka Ifediora, Senior Consultant for Merging Borders International, encouraged the governor to turn to tourism as a business for profit. To achieve this, he said that the Osun government should focus on three concepts (1) Plan: (sustainable policies, consistent and sustainable growth process, prices, revenue target, almost accurate data from tourists), (2) Product: (how to sell tourism products – packaging such as spiritual, religious, adventure and ecotourism tourism) and (3) Promotion: Osun residents will sponsor Osun tourist attraction sites first and then Africans travel Africa more to attract foreigners, the local community must show what they have to offer; its origin Oduduwa (state of Osun); aggressive state guidance through different media by the state government to embrace the roots, the state should involve the education sector, especially public and private schools, to study the roots; culture and heritage of the State that allows them to disseminate information wherever in the world they go; states should support film bodies like Nollywood and music artists for promotion, as well as the main BBC media channels; TV and online influencers; ad; celebrate indigenous or state-affiliated peoples to advance interests in tourism. Without an atom of doubt, if followed carefully, Osun will be better for him, he concluded.
In general, tourism, if properly harnessed, will help create new jobs for the population of Osun state, stimulate trade and entrepreneurship, especially small businesses, and generate funds for infrastructure for state development. .
The governor’s deputy chief of staff, Adeyanju Abdullah Binuyo, provided a brief summary of what the state is doing in the Solid Minerals and Mining Sector. Currently, the state has 17 mineral titles: 10 gold assets, 4 quarry leases, lead, zinc, telsa, quartz, marble. In total, there are 9,000 registered miners in the state. According to Binuyo, for the first quarter of next year, the 17 assets should be active in commercial association.
Under the leadership of Governor Oyetola, there has been a business restructuring plan after identifying the 17 assets across the state. Going forward, to realize the administration’s mining dreams, the state will need partners to support primary exploration of the assets. To estimate resources, the state conducted what is called asset recognition through aeromagnetic reports.
The Inisa-born management consultant said the state is already building and equipping a purchasing center to engage registered miners so they can buy all the gold and minerals they can produce, a replica of the gold souk in Dubai. In addition, the state government headed by Governor Oyetola is going to start a lapidary to train young people, teach them about jewelry making, stone carving and polishing, all for their economic empowerment.
Again, good times have come for the people as the state government is ready to invest in the education of artisanal and small-scale miners while seeking assistance from the federal government in the technical and vocational training center to be located in Osu , Atakumosa West LGA, in addition to putting in place an established governance structure for consents, permits and exemptions to avoid encumbrances. There is now a joint working group operational for the security of assets against illegal miners.
Without neglecting the environment where minerals are explored, the state will embark on a sustainability project through an environmental impact study prior to the start of exploration. The state of Osun is well under way to partner with the FG in the recently launched Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI), which will help teach young skillful ways of mining responsibly.
Therefore, there is little doubt that the sector will be a major contributor to infrastructure funds for the state in the future, as envisioned by the Oyetola administration.
As for gold mining, the state is home to the Segilola project (the only global standard gold mine in Nigeria) which confirmed the deposit of approximately 1.5 million ounces of gold. This is a real jackpot for the state. In order to maximize the benefits derived from gold mining, plans are underway to integrate all artisanal miners to ensure a formal relationship, train and partner with them, purchase their gold ore to support the local economy. The multiplier effect of this cannot be overemphasized. There is also a plan to convert Hassan Alajoku Park in Gbongan into a regional gold and commodity shopping center. Najim Animashaun paused more on evolution, history and economic indices, in case Osun pay more attention to its mineral deposits, the figures in naira and dollars are delicious, he also suggested realistic ways and mechanisms for the development program of solid minerals from Osun achieves its goal. set goals and objectives.
There is a lot to say about the Osun ATM (Agriculture, Tourism and Mining) agenda of the Oyetola administration. It’s a developing evolution that will keep interested parties and the concerned public talking for a long time. Fortunately for the people of Osun, the Governor has the political will, administrative acumen, and professional competence to keep the state’s people-betterment agenda up to date. It is clear that the last twenty-one months of the administration led by Oyetola APC are once again good times for the loving people of the state.
Owoyokun is the senior special assistant to the governor in special duties