Once again, we want to engage those who are in doubt about what our candidate will do differently or capable of doing to transform Ondo State economically especially from a civil service state economy to a state where commerce and industry will be the driving force of the economy.
To start with, what any responsible government or administration in Ondo state is expected to do in order to transform the state economy from civil service economy to industrial and commerce driven economy is to device a means of linking the state to global economy and in view of this, the following questions arise: how can Ondo State be linked to global economy, has there been practical efforts in the past to do same and can Olusola Oke linked to such efforts?
Before answering the question raised above, let us take a clue from Lagos State, a state that is rated to have the seventh largest economy in Africa if it were to be a country with worth of $136b as at 2018 and 30% of Nigeria GDP.
The simple logic about Lagos State economic success is that the state is linked with the global economy through three strategic ways viz; The Apappa seaport, the Murtala Mohamed International Airport and Semme land border. And in my own opinion, I want to believe that the seaport plays the most vital role in linking Lagos state with the global economy.
Just recently, a research conducted revealed that the Lekki Seaport that is under construction in Lagos State which is just a few kilometers away from Ondo State has a capacity of generating $350b to Lagos economy after concession with over 200,000 jobs despite the existing Apappa seaport.
I have personally visited this environment and I can attest to the fact that a huge investment is ongoing there and in comparison of Lekki Seaport and free trade zone to what was earlier planned for Ondo State, the potentials within Ondo State geographical zone is far better than that of Lagos state.
Interestingly, the good news is that; Ondo state has two options at the moment viz: to link up directly with global economy or by making itself an outlet to over concentration of economic opportunities in Lagos State by channeling such opportunities to Ondo state which will eventually have a byproduct of taking the state from a civil service economy to an economy driven by commerce, trade and industry.
Between 2003-2009, series of efforts were put in place to link up Ondo State with global economy with Olusola Oke playing the leading role by influencing Dr. Olusegun Agagu to put in Place Olokola Free Trade zone(OKFTZ) which was to be supported by a seaport (the similar project is what we are having in Lekki, Lagos state now, a place that is less than forty-five minutes drive from where a sea port was earlier proposed to be sited in Ondo State).
The interest of linking the state to the global economy was what motivated Olusola Oke as Chairman of OSOPADEC to start massive sand filling of the coastal communities (like we have in Lagos) and construction of roads linking all the coastal communities to boost trade and commerce as people all over the country are always coming to the coastal communities to trade. One of the phases of the road projects was to link Ondo State to Lagos State via Araromi seaside to Lekki.
Had Agagu lasted in government, Oke’s influence to link Ondo State with the global economy would have succeeded. Unfortunately, the reverse is what we have seen and where Oke stopped the road construction linking the state to Lagos State with the intention of channeling economic opportunities in Lagos state to Ondo State as a short term plan of linking Ondo State to global economy is still the status quo and why the subsequent administrations have developed cold feet in linking the state with global economy is a discussion for another day.
Without mincing words, Oke is not a stranger when it comes to developing policies that will link Ondo State to global economy and with required conditions precedent he can reawaken the necessary factors to actualize this lofty goals.
In the alternative and for emphasis, the short term plan available to ondo state is to channel Lagos State economy to Ondo State by developing the coastal communities in such a way that people can live in Ondo state while under forty-five minutes, can drive to their respective place of work in Lagos state (Lagos Island especially) while at the same time, people in Lagos State and Ondo State can have easy exchange of goods and services.
No doubt, Housing industry and others will pick up once Ondo state is linked to Lagos state and where there is population you can be rest assured that there will be influx of capital while the rest will be left for history and posterity to judge.
At Olu Sola Oke new media team, we arouse the consciousness of the people of the state for developments. Join the volunteers now as we through Olusola Oke transform our dear state.