Africa’s richest man Alhaji Aliko Dangote, on Friday, declared that Edo State is the perfect place to be at the fore front of Nigeria’s drive for economic diversification.
Alhaji Dangote who stated that ‘Edo is sitting on gold’ owing to the presence of abundant resources urged the state government to focus on its area of comparative advantage such as agriculture and agro-processing.
Dangote disclosed that a single agricultural product exported from the state in 2016 fetched millions of dollars in 2016.
Speaking at the Edo State Alaghodaro Investment Summit to mark the first year of Governor Godwin Obaseki in office, Alhaji Dangote said Governor Obaseki has several initiatives in place aimed at exploring the non-oil sector.
Dangote noted that Governor Obaseki began the initiatives began nine years ago when Obaseki was the head of the Economic Team under former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
He noted that the Obaseki’s strategic focus on institutional reform, environmental sustainability, infrastructural development and economic revolution showed that the administration is very ambitious
Dangote opined that Nigeria can charge away out of the doom that oil dependency can cause by focusing on providing better infrastructure and exploring the opportunity in the non-oil sector.
He called for more reboots relationship between the government and the private sector.
According to him, “An effective partnership between the government and private sector before the end of 2019 see Nigeria becoming the largest exporter of fertilizer and refined petroleum products in Africa.
“The relationship between the public and private sector should be symbiotic and not adversarial. One side does not have to loos for the other side to win. Government should focus on providing the right policies, enactment of enabling laws, provisions of the attractive incentives and regular policy implementation, the private sector will take the risk.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted that Edo was one of the state Nigeria is looking forward to lead the way in transformation of economic fortunes.
Saraki urged the state government to ensure adequate security in the state for the safety of investors as well as engage community leaders and traditional rulers.
President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented by Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said more business reforms would be pursued to accelerate progress and position Nigeria in her march to become a post-oil economy.
Buhari stated that the reforms to ease the business climate has brought the needed change to registering businesses, issuance of visa on arrival and tax collection.
He said partnering with the private sector was the key in driving economic growth and progress.
“I am impressed and delighted at the way the governor is going about his work. He is bringing his energy, network and intellect to bear,” President Buhari said.
“One of the things that have impressed me about this summit, is the presence of the private sector. There is no way things can happen at the center without bringing it to the subnational level.
“There are noticeable improvements in paying taxes, registering businesses and many more. The Ease of doing business reforms are going to domesticated at the state level. Edo state is one of the states to lead that with the discussions at this summit.”
In his remark, Governor Obaseki said his administration has made progress on the six pillars of growth his team identified.
Governor Obaseki said over 500km of roads across the state have been resurfaced, reconstructed and still under construction.
He said, “We have done a lot in the last twelve months. We have recorded some institutional reforms, as the key to development is by repurposing institutions for optimal results. The bastion of reform is in the civil service and the bureaucracy in government. We have embarked on processes that are making the civil service more efficient and productive to ensure smooth service delivery.
“We are determined to rebuild the civil service and improve on the capacity of the entire government workforce. A fully computerized staff training school has been built at the Government House.
“I am glad to inform you that one of the events in this summit is to sign a memorandum of understanding between the United Nations training institute and the Edo State Government. The other institutional reforms include revenue collection, where we have insisted that government revenues should be collected and accounted for.”