Early September, I was in Poland for an investment/economic forum. I was essentially there in my capacity as the Coordinator of the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ). My mission on that foreign land was clear: to woo global investors to Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria. That meeting was the 32nd in the series of the Economic Forum that has become a tradition. It was a gathering of leading investors and economic giants that came with lots of opportunities.
The body language of the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu so far speaks to its readiness to tap economic opportunities from across the world and open up Nigeria for business and investment. The President has assumed the role of the Chief Marketing Officer of Nigeria and Africa, telling the global audience at every avenue that we’re ready for mutually beneficial partnerships.
Most recently at the United Nations General Assembly, President Tinubu argued that Africa is not a problem to be avoided, calling the rest of the world to work with the continent as the key to the world’s future. His presentation at the session has been applauded as masterful.
This body language of the federal government, in addition to the investment drive of Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, is what I’ve seen and is motivating me to push for economic opportunities from across the world to the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone.
Governor Abiodun has made huge investment in critical sectors that attract and sustain investment in the state. Talk of road infrastructure, transportation, energy, security and others. He has done creditably well in his first tenure, raising the hopes of the people that more will come in this second tenure.
In his determination to make Ogun State a major investment destination in Nigeria and by extension Africa, Governor Abiodun established the Ogun State Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency. This government organ has the mandate to attract investors into the state; coordinate private sector investment activities, and streamline processes and procedures to ease investors’ experience in setting up their businesses in the state. That was a brilliant initiative whose positive impact has begun to manifest, as Ogun is now a state of interest for many investors.
Governor Abiodun has also supported this with the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads and road networks in the state. Over 400km roads have been touched by the Dapo Abiodun-led administration of Ogun State. This, no doubt, has changed the face of the state and eased transportation within Ogun. Good road networks are a major catalyst for investment. It’s exciting that Governor Abiodun has his eyes fixated on renewing road networks in Ogun State.
We cannot also ignore the place of security in attracting investment. Ogun people are generally peaceful and welcoming. They are always ready to extend the hands of fellowship to visitors. Governor Abiodun has also strengthened the security architecture of the state by keying into the Amotekun initiative of Southwestern regional governments in Nigeria. This is in addition to restructuring the Security Trust Fund of the state which has made it possible to mobilise resources for security personnel. The adoption of ultramodern security techniques such as drones and other sophisticated technology in surveillance and monitoring the state has prevented criminal gangs from gaining a foothold. The security of the state can always get better.
Indeed, I’ve seen the investment drive of Governor Dapo Abiodun over the years, and it is really propelling me to make moves on my own to attract investment to the state. We have a Governor that has a growth and progressive mindset.
So, at the economic forum, I made a case for Africa, Nigeria and Ogun State. This was even long before the President’s address at UNGA 78. My message was similar to that of the President. I told the session which has a global audience that Africa should not be seen as a challenging investment terrain. On the contrary, we have the presence of highly educated Nigerians and Africans eager to collaborate with global partners in achieving great feats.
Some investors might want to wait to see how things pan out. However, this may be costly for them. It was my view at the economic forum that with the pace at which the present administration of President Tinubu is working on securing foreign investments, such category of investors might miss out on the available opportunities. The perfect time to invest in Nigeria is therefore NOW.
On the 23rd of September, in an astonishing moment that ushered in new possibilities and collaborations, a select number of accomplished Polish investors and seasoned CEOs from reputable companies in Poland and Europe from diverse industries arrived at the Abuja International Airport. Their visit is a followup on the fruitful discussions had at the Economic summit and aimed at exploring investment opportunities and establishing fruitful partnerships within Nigeria.
In the final analysis, investors should know that the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone in Nigeria serves as a powerful reminder of the untapped potential in Africa’s rapidly evolving economic landscape. We are open for business and partnership. The Dapo Abiodun-led administration is making progressive policies and programmes that support investment and business in the state.