Industrialisation for employment generation in Ondo
By Kayode Adegbehingbe
Industrialisation for the purpose of income and employment generation has been the focus of the present administration in Ondo State since its inception.
To that end, pragmatic and bold steps have been taken to set up an industrial hub in Ore in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.
In the last few days, that place has been receiving important visitors.
They are: the First Lady of the state, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu who led a bevy of wives of political office holders in the state on a tour of the booming industries already operating at the hub; and the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Mr Bamidele Oleyeloogun led a group of legislators there too.
They were all full of praises to governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for initiating the hub in view of the prospects it holds for the state and the rapid development it has witnessed.
The concept of an industrial hub is to create a cluster of big industries in a dedicated place where they could develop and flourish with all the needed facilities provided.
It is clear to even the blind that Ondo State cannot continue to wear the toga of a civil servant state and make appreciable economic headway.
But changing that narrative would not happen overnight but would need a big political will backing it up, providing the right template to pull investors from all over the world to the state. And this is what the government of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has done.
Data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows this is already yielding fruit as Ondo state has been adjudged to be among a few states in the country with a net gain in the number of those who are employed as against a poor national average. Ondo state is therefore becoming a shining light in employment generation.
According to Agency report, between third quarter, 2017 and third quarter of 2018, only nine states recorded a reduction in their unemployment rates despite an increase in the national unemployment rate.
The states include: Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo and Rivers; the same states recorded reduction in their combined unemployment and underemployment rates.
Six states recorded the highest gains in net full time employment between third quarter, 2017 and second quarter, 2018.
“The states were Lagos adding 740,146 net full time jobs, Rivers (235,438), Imo (197,147), Ondo (142,514), Enugu (122,333), Kaduna with 118,929 jobs,” the report noted.
From the foregoing Ondo state is looking good when it comes to employment generation, when compared with many other states in the country.
Ondo state is among the nine states which from third quarter, 2017 to third quarter of 2018, recorded a reduction in their unemployment rates despite an increase in the national rate.
It is also among the six states with highest gains in net full time employment between third quarter, 2017 and second quarter, 2018, adding 142,514 jobs.
This is not propaganda, or information manufactured by the Ondo state government in an attempt to launder its image, but data from the reputable National Bureau of Statistics, dedicated to finding out releasing such data, without any sentimental consideration.
The gains cannot be put to chance, the result of throwing a dart in the dark and hoping that somehow it will hit the mark. It is a product of right thinking, right team supporting the process and right political will.
From the NBS data, one can say that the state is experiencing economic sunshine and the Akeredolu administration can pat itself on the back having done a good job which has led to an improvement in the employment statistics of the state. Things are definitely getting better.
One could only wish that the government will continue to move in the same direction, using investors’ money as the fulcrum on which development and employment generation rotates.
The landscape of the state is being doted by companies already established and being established, covering a wide range of economic sectors, and any serious investor would find in the state government a willing supporter and collaborator in a mutually benefiting relationship.
The managing director of the Ore industrial hub, Mr Alex Ajipe, revealed that 1,500 people have been employed in the state there.
And it is projected that over 20, 000 people would be engaged in at the Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub which is part of the Ore Industrial Hub, specially set up as a consequence of the agreement reached between Ondo State and Linyi, in Shangai Province, China.
The companies being put up in the state as a result of that agreement include: a textile mill, paper mill, Agrochemical Company, cassava to ethanol plant and a wood processing company.
Ajipe said: “This industrial hub has already employed over 1,500 citizens of the state and when fully completed, it will employ 20,000 direct and indirect labour which will comprise indigenes of the state.
“Not only this, the state government has already signed a MoU with an automobile company and in three months time; the state will be assembling vehicles.
“Very soon, Africa College of Agricultural Vacations Studies and Technology will also kick off where people would be trained on how to handle the machines we are using.
“We are going to be buying cassava from farmers and be processing it into ethanol, which is good for preservatives, starch and others. We want to revolutionalise cassava in order to provide jobs for the jobless in the state.”
Ajipe, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Klick Konnect Networks, said that 15 different companies were already sited in the hub for operations.
“At the moment, we have textile mill which is producing sewing thread, polyester embroidery and it will soon start to produce fabrics, lace and ankara.
“There is wood mill specialising in producing ply wood and an agro allied chemical company which is 60 percent completed.
“Also, there is cassava ethanol plant which is only waiting to be connected with electricity for operation.
“This will require one million tons of cassava every year and it means more money for cassava farmers.
“In fact, the company is ready to assist those cassava farmers in getting multiple harvest.”
According to reports, on completion, the cassava to ethanol plant will daily require an input of 300 to 400 tons of cassava, further expanding the job opportunities in the agricultural sector of the state.
Speaking further, Ajipe said: “Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the state governor, on behalf of the state government, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dolphing Company of China to have Chinese mall, where over 100 businesses have subscribed to in producing different wares.
“We are expecting an automobile assembly to arrive in some months to this time in assembling different vehicles here in this industrial hub.”
In her remark during her visit there, the first lady stated: “There is no gain saying, Mr Governor is really working. Majority of people working here are youths from the state and this is another way to enjoy dividends of democracy.
“The beauty of doing business in Ondo State is that most of the raw materials needed are available within the state which makes it much easier.”
One is not unmindful of the litany of failed government-initiated projects and industries of yesteryears.
But this is a different narrative and one which is not blind to the maxim that government has no business in business, rather the Ondo state government has preoccupied itself with creating the right environment for major and minor businesses and industries to be established in the state, bringing the spotlight on the state as one which is open for business partnership with investors.
The Ondo State House of Assembly also showered accolades on the Governor, testifying that industrialisation is a work in progress in the state.
Members of the House Committee on Commerce and Industry were led by the Speaker, Mr. Oleyeloogun, to the industrial hub as part of the performance of their oversight role.
They hailed the economic policy of the government, whereby the state partners with foreign investors to establish various industries through which the citizens of the state would be employed.
They noted that with such ambitious moves, the economic growth and development of the state have been fast-tracked.
Oleyeloogun said, “With what l am seeing here today, he (Governor Akeredolu) has created more employments, dealt with idleness and underutilization of human and natural resources and created more income for the growth and development of Ondo State.
“For years now, industrialisation and creation of employment in Ondo State had been in comatose, with youth unemployment escalating, while Internal Revenue Generation (IGR) was very low.
“Amazingly, the government of Akeredolu is performing extremely well in revenue generation and performing well by creating employment. He has created lots of employment for our youths roaming the streets aimlessly.
“This development is combating idleness and under-utilisation of human and natural resources, as well as creating more income for the growth and development.
“Little wonder the state rank tops in the group of states with a dramatic upward shift in IGR, compared to previous years.
“Visibly, it is deducible that the economy of this immediate environment has changed and there is a positive short and long run transformation in all spheres of the community.”
The Chairman of the House Committee on Committee on Commerce and Industry, Mr. Sola Ebiwonjumi, said: “The state will be the next industrial hub after Lagos and Ogun states in the country”.
What he said is instructive, seeing that the IGR high profile of both Ogun and Lagos State in southwest Nigeria are notable.
In 2018, while Ondo state recorded an IGR of approximately N25b, a big jump from the 11billion from last year nonetheless, Ogun and Lagos recorded N85b and N382b respectively. This makes plain the gains of having a thriving private-sector driven economic base, which both state boast of, showing the way to go in Ondo State.
The Ondo state government is taking after them aggressively drawing many companies to the state, going all the way to China as the gains of the industrial hub has shown.
It would be recalled that in June, 2018, Ondo state governor while on a visit to China established relations with Linyi, with Gov. Akeredolu signing six MOUs/Agreements with that China city.
And with alacrity, a month after that, as part of the fulfillment of the agreement, land was provided by the government for the project, clearing the way the establishment of different companies at the hub.
The Senior Special Assistant to Governor on Economic Zone Development, Mr. Ayo Ipaye, giving more insight into the activities going on at the hub, reveals that there is plan on ground for the production of lace and Ankara cloths at the textile industry, and that the raw materials are fully available in the state.
And, according to him, the government has taken necessary steps to ensure the welfare of the workers.
He added that the impact assessment of the various projects has been done and the issue of community relations is being taken cognizance of.
Shedding further light on the goings on at the hub, the Administrative Manager of the Textile Industry set up at the industrial hub, Mr. Adesina Ahmed, disclosed that no fewer than 300 staff are working in the industry and 1000 cartons of thread produced daily.