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Wooing investors to Ekiti

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Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji is, without doubt, one of the country’s best performing governors. He works hard, talks less, evades the limelight but his people describe him as an achiever. He was in Dallas, United States of America recently to urge foreign investors to take advantage of the current economic reforms in Nigeria to invest in the country.

“This is the right time for any investor to invest in Nigeria”, Oyebanji declared at a panel session, one of the major events at the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit organised by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), citing the current reforms of the President Bola Tinubu administration and the synergy between the Federal Government and the country’s 36 state governments, which includes his own Ekiti.

 In attendance at the session were heads of national and sub-national governments; investors; policy-makers and development agencies drawn from different parts of the world, including the Chairman of the Board of Corporate Council on Africa, Mr. John Olajide.

To buttress his assertion, Oyebanji cited a few  successful collaborations between Ekiti and some  international investors, including Cavista Holdings and Promasidor, to make a case for more direct investment in the state, stressing that the right time to invest in the state is now.

“Now, we have a reform-minded government that is visionary and we have 36 state governors that have keyed into the vision of the Tinubu administration. The economy of sub-nationals are critical to the Nigerian economy itself. So, for any investor that wants good returns on their investment, this is the time to invest in Nigeria because the market is readily available, the people are ready, we have a government that is reform-minded and all the governors have keyed into the vision as well. So, the time to invest in Nigeria is now”.

Wooing investors to the state in particular, Oyebanji said the state government is strong on regulatory frameworks designed to protect investors and their investments. His exact words: “What we are doing is to ensure that we have a stable and predictable regulatory framework and there must be trust because I believe that for any business to thrive, trust is key. You must have a leader that is visionary, trust-worthy, and transparent. All these we have in Ekiti State”.

Ekiti’s vast mineral resources as well as its agricultural and tourism potentials beg to be tapped. Fresh from the launching of a book on creating values by Ademola Akinbola (more on this later), it must be stated that tapping into Nigeria’s vast human and material resources is the antidote to the country’s crippling economic crisis seemingly defying solution.  What with the Naira rising today and falling tomorrow!

Each time I travel in Ekiti – as in other parts of the country – and see vast agricultural and tourism potentials waiting to be tapped, it saddens me. I refrain from using the expression “wasting or rotting away”! It gladdens the heart, then, to see that there is a governor in Ekiti working silently to change the narrative. The two years that I spent in Ekiti towards the tail end of the Ayo Fayose administration and the unique opportunity I had traversing the whole state on campaign hustings with Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka opened my eyes to the immense agricultural resources of the state.

The tourism potentials of Ekiti, if tapped, is a gold mine that can sustain the State and wean it from over-dependence on Abuja for bailouts and dole outs. Last Easter witnessed a giant step taken by the state governor, with the concurrence of the Minister of Tourism, to begin to tap into this money spinner. Having enjoyed Ekiti’s tourism potentials in the past, Arinta waterfalls and Ikogosi warm springs to be specific, I intend to make a return visit to those spots and other Ekiti tourism potentials to highlight them for potential investors and tourism enthusiasts alike. We need to know that what we travel abroad to enjoy at prohibitive costs abound right at our backyard at affordable costs.

This is also the right time for Ekiti to tap into its mineral resources. The state is fortunate to have the hard-working Minister in charge of mineral resources development, Dele Alake; let Dele’s charity begin from home! After Ekiti, Dele should please come to my home state of Ondo to help us, before making the rounds all over the country. Lest you forget, Ondo and Ekiti used to be one state! As they say, every politics is local! Synergy is required between Minister and governor to deliver the goods to Ekiti. The human resources abound in Ekiti, which is touted as the state with the highest concentration of professors and academics in Nigeria.

If Ekiti must move from being a sleepy civil service state to a business destination of choice, the time is now! It is do-able. Otunba Gbenga Daniel started a similar revolution in Ogun state and, today, that state is no longer the sleepy civil service state that it used to be but has one of the highest Internally Generated Revenue in the country. Ekiti can follow suit.

If Oyebanji and Alake achieve that for Ekiti, their names with be etched in gold, just as we mention Gbenga Daniel’s today.

Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of the Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Bolawole writes the On the Lord’s Day column in the Sunday Tribune and the Treasurers column in the New Telegraph newspapers. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television. He can be reached on turnpot@gmail.com +234 807 552 5533

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