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Gov Amosun
Ogun State Investors Forum convened by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, formally began yesterday in Abeokuta, the state capital. The two days forum is themed:  'Ogun State: Open for Business.

The Forum is expected to bring together over  1000 delegates, including captains of industry from around the world and speakers who will share their experiences in developing strategic plans to accelerate economic development of Ogun State.

The sessions will focus on Agriculture/Agro Allied Business, Infrastructure, Roads, Housing, Energy and Transport, Logistics/Distribution/Retail Trade, Manufacturing, Funding Opportunities and Financing.

Discussants include; Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State, Nobel Laurate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Finance minister and coordinator of the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala Mr. Folusho Philips and an industrialist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

Ogun's five - cardinal programme
The Senator Ibikunle Amosun led administration, according to the governor,  is now anchored on a Five- Cardinal Programme, which comprises: Affordable Qualitative Education, Efficient Health Care Delivery,  Increased Agricultural Production / Industrialisation, Affordable Housing and Urban Renewal and Rural and Infrastructure Development / Employment Generation.

'We believe that any discerning investor will recognise that these are the essential ingredients for successful and sustainable investment.

'Well educated, healthy people, who are adequately housed, constitute a productive and contented workforce. Combine this with food security and availability of essential infrastructure and you have the conditions for long term socio- economic development, Amosun the host governor said at the forum's opening session.

Amosun grants land rebate up to 80 per cent
Also speaking at the well attended forum, Amosun promised to  make the state conducive for investors by giving generous land rebate to businessmen and religious organizations.

According to the Governor, 80 per cent discount would be given to anyone who intend to use the state land for agriculture, 60 per cent for manufacturing, 40 per cent for commercial such as real estate, tank farms and logistics while community organizations including religious and educational institutions would receive 75 per cent incentive.

He said ' We recognise the role of land as a key factor of production. We are supporting our various policy initiatives with easy access to land.

'We have reviewed the cumbersome and outdated processes relating to land allocation. Indeed, we have begun the process of clearing the backlog of issuing Certificates of Occupancy which saw some property owners waiting many years to obtain their land titles.

'I am delighted   and very excited to announce that effective from today the following discounts shall be applicable for the purchase of land in Ogun State: 'Land Use Category Discount Applicable Agricultural 80% Manufacturing 60% Commercial e.g.  tank farms, real estate, logistics 40%Community Organisations- including religious educational institutions 75%.

'Of course these incentives are structured to supply immediate impetus to our development drive and to that end are applicable when qualifying conditions are met. These conditions essentially require that development occurs within 180 days (six months) of the issuance of the Final Letter of Allocation.

'I must add that these discounts remain valid until December 2012. We do not want land speculators in Ogun State. We want partners, genuine long term investors.

We believe that these incentives will enable us to rapidly demonstrate the exciting investment opportunities our State.

Agric minister raises alarm over rice import
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi  Adesina  yesterday ,raised the alarm that, Nigeria might be heading for economic disaster if it continues to Import  rice with huge amount of money, predicting that, by 2050 the country would be spending $150 billion on the importation of 36 million metric tones  of rice.

Akinwunmi , who  stated this while featuring at a -two day Ogun state Investors' forum held in Abeokuta, the state capital, lamented that, as at present  the country was  importing 5 million metric tones of rice, despite the resources available to the country.

Adesina  however said that,  the Transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan  in Agrculture has created 3.5 million jobs for the people in the country .

The minister  who  itemized the benefits  of Agriculture in Nigeria, said, the sector  has contributed  44 per cent  to the  Gross Domestic Product, GDP, but, expressing  regret that,  despite  its potentials, agriculture could  still not provide job for the people in the country.

While describing  Agriculture as a  huge opportunity  for Nigerians, he called   for diversification of economy from Oil and gas, saying that, Nigeria was the next Agriculture country waiting to be explored.

According to him ' Nigeria is the largest importer of foods, it makes no sense, we use N1billion to import rice, wheat and other basic items. We use N1 Billion to import rice everyday, whereas, Sokoto, Niger and Ogun States can grow rice. This is not sustainable and politically it is bad. 'Nigeria is the largest importer of rice in the world and I  intend to reverse the ugly trend  by  making the country the best exporter of food.

'Three new rice  processing mills in Ebonyi,Niger  and Kebbi states with capacity of 90,000 metric tones of mills have already been completed February 2012,' Adesina said.

The Minister however  said, 'we are working with the Ogun State government on rice transformation. We have informed the country that we have 100 new large scale integrated rice mill that we have to get imported and to be on ground, not run by government , but run by private sector. Ogun State will get a few of those because of its large rice production, especially popular rice.'

Mark wants Amosun supported
Speaking  at the forum,  the Senate President, David Mark, who was represented by  Senator  Ganiyu Solomon commended the minister for the passion  he attached  to  his work, urging the government to give necessary support to him to achieve his aim.

Both Governors of Osun  and Kaduna states, Rauf Aregbesola  and Patric Ibrahim Yakowa respectively lauded the state government  for organizing the  forum.

Aregbesola in his goodwill message, urged  the Ogun State Head of Service  to encourage civil servants in the state to engage in farming, especially those on Grade Level 12 to 16.

He said that, promotion of civil servants in the state must be tied to engagement in farming saying the move would encourage agriculture, urging the people to embrace the clarion call for food security in order to avoid food insecurity.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola and others equally identified security, virile Judiciary as well as policy consistency as factors that would ensure economic development in Nigeria.

Soyinka harps on true federalism
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka yesterday insisted that, only  true federalism and  resource control by individual states in Nigeria are major panacea for economic development of the country.

Prof. Soyinka stated this  in Abeokuta,Ogun state capital during  the state maiden edition of  Investors' Forum organised by the state government to drive home investors , maintained that unless the country reverses  to true federalism,  even development might elude the country.

The literary  icon, who commended the vision of the state government, expressed fear that,  such initiative cannot be sustained  with the present system of Government in Nigeria where,according to him,  the federal government continue to usurp the power of the states.

He however  called  for the need to decentralize the way Nigeria was being administered ,saying,  each  states should be allowed  to control their resources for the development of their respective states.

He added that unless Nigeria return to true federalism the vision of a virile economy would continue to remain a mirage.

While advising states governments to be  independent,Soyinka  said that for the past 20 years he has been  living in Abeokuta, he has been supplying basic amenities like water, light among others by himself.

He  noted  that the  gesture must be emulated by various state governments in the country with an appeal to the federal government to allow states to control their resources for the benefit of their people.

He further enjoined various state governments in the country to embark on healthy collaboration and competition noting that the gesture  would speed up economic growth and development in the country.

Soyinka said that all the states should come up with initiatives that would alleviate poverty and hunger in their respective domains.