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Osun has been changed to a business hub— Oyetola

My policy has always been that government has no business in business. I don’t believe government should, in the real sense of it go into business.

By Julius Toba-Jegede
Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun says the ongoing efforts of his administration have changed the status of the state to a business hub.

Oyetola said this in Abuja at NAN Forum, a special interview programme of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He said his administration conducted an economic and investment summit in 2019 as part of efforts to tap into the economic potential of the state and move it away from its civil service status.

The governor said that after the summit, the state diversified into three areas of mining, agriculture and tourism to boost its economy.

“Yes, we used to be a civil service state. But what we did when we came into office was to conduct Osun Economic and Investment Summit in 2019 where we asked experts to come and talk to us.

“We decided to diversify into three major areas of agriculture, mining and tourism and these have been paying off. But for COVID-19, we would have seen a lot of investors coming into these major areas now.

“In agriculture, we are doing pretty well in creating a value chain in the area of cassava plantation.

” We are supporting farmers with improved seedlings. We are establishing some farm settlements; we just cleared about 10,000 hectares of land for cultivation of cassava and other crops.

“We are looking at value chain in cassava for instance, it is not enough for you to ask farmers to produce cassava and they don’t have off-takers.

” So, we have a few companies that are already thinking of establishing ethanol factories and others to produce starch.

“It is very important for us too to encourage storage; this is done majorly at the federal level by building silos.

” We have a huge one in Ilessa still in use to preserve the grains.

” But it is important for state governments too to look at storage and create opportunities for small scale enterprises that will use some of these things as their raw materials.

“So value chain is the way to go, you don’t cultivate so much and realise that there is a glut. It will not encourage farmers to want to go out to farm.

” Again, part of our own encouragement is to create opportunities for rural roads so that farmers have opportunities to evacuate their produce to the market.

“I think we have done so much about that. I must also commend the World Bank through its Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) for their support in this regard.

” We are looking forward to RAMP III; we just completed RAMP II toward ensuring that most of the farmlands are opened up for farmers to move their produce to where they are needed.

“We are coming back to the cocoa era by having improved seedlings for cocoa farmers. We used to be one of the largest cocoa producers in the past, so we want to go back to that.

“There is also the issue of poultry support programme under Osun Broilers Outgrowers Programme Scheme (OBOPS). Here, we empower some young poultry farmers to be able to access funds from the CBN.

“Again, in the area of mining, we have actually changed the story of mining in Osun from artisanal practice to corporate and responsible mining.

“In the past, it was purely artisanal whereby they used to go round digging everywhere looking for gold and other mineral deposits.

” But these days, we have investors particularly from Canada. We have two of them now who are investing heavily in the mining sector of our state.

“The result of all these may not be too noticeable now, but I tell you in a couple of years, Osun will be living on mining.

“In the area of tourism, we have a lot of tourist sites in Osun which have remained undeveloped.

” My policy has always been that government has no business in business. I don’t believe government should, in the real sense of it go into business.

“My position is that government should create enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

” My background being in the private sector too, I believe in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and we have received a lot of proposals from private investors who want to partner with us on culture and tourism,’’ he said.

He added that his determination to stimulate the economy of the state also brought about the new policy on adire, adding that this would create more market for the product.

“ Coming to the issue of adire, Osogbo used to be particularly known for this product.

” The other day, I was challenging my brother governor from Ogun, to the extent that the adire thing came from Osun and not Ogun. That was on a lighter mood though.

“To stimulate market demand and encourage supply for adire, I said as a matter of policy on Thursdays of every week, we must put on adire including myself.

” I think this is something that is widely accepted by both the political class and civil servants. The intention again is to create that awareness.

“Also people want partner with us on the cultural heritage we have apart from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Osun.

” We are also building the Oodua Museum in Ile-Ife, so that people will be coming here for pilgrimage the way they go to Israel and Mecca. Our own will be cultural tourism and the response has been so encouraging.

“We are diversifying into those key areas not leaving out the knowledge industry, ICT. We recently launched the “Opolo Global’’ to encourage our youths to really get involved in ICT and create opportunities for them to develop software marketable anywhere in the world.

“Osun, yes, civil service state in the past, but with a lot of potential now,’’ he said. (NAN)