Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi and the entire cabinet members of the state on Friday met with the representatives of the governments of Britain, Australian and Algeria and some multilateral agencies and donor organizations on how to tap into investment opportunities that abound in the nook and crannies of his state.
The discussion was focused on issues such as the reactivation of Olokola Free Trade Zone, refortification of Owena Oil and Gas Limited and Owena Energy Ltd. Resuscitation of moribund companies such as Oluwa Glass, Igbokoda; Ifon Ceramics, Ifon; Bolorunduro Timbers; Bolorunduro; Okitipupa Oil Palm Mills; Okitipupa; Cocoa Processing Company, Ile-Oluji; Arigidi-Akoko Tomato factory, Arigidi etc.
Other issues focused on were refurbishment and re-privatization of Idanre Hills Resort and Idanre Golf Course, Bitumen exploration in the as well as the establishment of a Deep Sea Port in the southern senatorial district of the state. The Atlantic Ocean which passes through the state is ranked as the deepest in West Africa sub-region.
Aside that, mention was also made of improving health facilities in the state such as the Mother and Child Hospital, Ondo State Kidney Care Centre and Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Services Centre, Ondo and all the General Hospitals in the state and a possible establishment of College of Medicine.
In his opening remarks, chairman of the local organizing committee (LOC), Temitope Runsewe, he said the essence of the diplomatic dinner was to expose the diplomats and other investors present to the investment opportunities in the state. He said the dinner was the first of the its kind in the history of the 40-year old state.
Akeredolu, in his speech, took his time to highlight why Ondo State must be prioritized by foreign missions, investors and other multi-lateral donor organizations in the country for investments.
In his words, the Governor said: “Ondo State is the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria, responsible for 40% of all production. Okitipupa Oil Palm Plantation is the largest in Nigeria. In Ondo State, we cultivate high varieties of arable and fruit crops such as cassava, rice, maize, sugarcane, mangoes and tomatoes
“I want to say unequivocally that Ondo State contributes 12% of the entire oil production and has one of the largest gas reserves in Nigeria.
“Let me also inform this gathering that the Bitumen deposit in our state is the largest in Africa with over 42billion reserves and probably of the highest quality.
“Furthermore, the glass sand was the source of raw materials for the Oluwa Glass Industry which is presently moribund. I can assure you that new set of enterprise will be created through technical support which will produce different types of glass wares.
The Governor hammered on the fact that the government cannot manage business hence his resolve to bring in foreign investors to tap into the vast opportunities in the state with a promise to creating enabling environment to make things function optimally.
Speaking further, the former two-term president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) said: “I want to hand over the Ondo State Public Service Training Institute at Ilaramokin to private sector to manage. We want to turn it to a profit-making institution where the central government and all state governments, even the corporate organizations will bring their staff to train for efficient service delivery.”
“I also want to announce that I am presently setting up machineries in motion to establish N25bn Employment Trust Fund to be managed by trusted and experienced hands. The essence of the trust fund is to stimulate small and medium enterprises (SMES) and drive innovations.’’
Notable High Commissions and Embassies that attended the event include Britain, China, Australia, India, Japan, Korea, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa and others.
Some multilateral agencies present were the World Bank, United Nations International Children's Education Fund (UNICEF), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), African Development Bank (AfDB) and many more.
Also present at the event was the Nigerian Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole. The event which took place at Dunes Centre, Maitama, witnessed several side-attractions such as jokes from popular comedian, CD and cultural exposition by the Ondo State Cultural Group which saw the Governor take to the floor to dance to the Odudun dance from Owo, his hometown.