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Get a copy of Ebony Herald International for more information about Arakurin Akeredolu’s Giant Stride in Ondo State.
His Excellency through agriculture has been creating entrepreneurship and also generating revenue through the same line. In this afforestation project in which they have ceded hectares of land, these people are going to create over 5,000 jobs and increase revenue. As I am talking to you, 1,100 jobs have been created by Wwood through this afforestation. We may not have Iwopin but now we are having Wwood which will accommodate a plying mill, MDF among others that is going to be the first of its kind in Nigeria. Later, I will come to the community social responsibility of these companies. Also there is a Wewin textile industry which is the first textile industry in Ondo State. Our Governor in his knowledge has approached these people to come into the state so that they will generate income and at the same time, create employment. As I am talking to you now, they are directly opposite Wwood factory at Omotosho and they are working. Apart from that, we have Nextgen that is coming up in Owo; they are going to be dealing in upland rice. They are going to employ more than 3,500 people as they are going to be the 2nd rice mill in the state. We have a lot of people who have shown interest in the sea deep port. We have Transnet from South Africa, we have some Chinese conglomerate that have also shown interest – these are proven people that you can Google and contact to find out what they have for us in Ondo State.
Also we have the Greenfield company; the Eggshell that is situated in Emure-Ile, that one will employ 1,200 labour and also indirectly employ labour in uncountable numbers. We have lots of companies that have shown interest to come into the state and are already here.
In the past, we have had instances where MOU was signed and you never hear anything about them after a while. The Eggshell that I talked about that is in Emure-Ile is a CBN and German company combined sponsorship with local indigenous companies- they will do poultry, they will also buy eggs from people and powder the egg for industrial use. By the 22nd of this month, the Governor will also be breaking ground there. Already if you are going to Owo at Emure, you will see the structure already in place.
Question: It is clear that the government of Arakunrin is creating jobs and the only thing left is for any government coming after this administration is to manage what is on ground. Is the Governor doing anything in the areas of roads?
Answer: In fact, there are massive infrastructural development coming up – I think I can mention a lot of them. We have the OSUSTECH road, apart from that, in the budget now; plans have been made for the overhead bridge coming up in Ore, the dualization of Ijoka road among others. We have lots of work done in all the senatorial districts- there is no single senatorial district that a road has not been constructed or on-going in this administration.
Sir, you mentioned dualization of Ijoka road, can you throw more light on that?
Answer: There are lots of satellite towns along Ijoka road. Now the congestion along that road in the morning is very hectic and in this year’s budget, the government has made plans for it.
Sir you also mentioned Wwood- Is Wwood coming up with a factory that will replicate papers for Iwopin paper mill?
At the moment, there is a manufacturing company called Wwood Limited producing HDF, MDF, marine board, plywood- they are producing now in Ondo State. They have set aside 200 hectares out of the 10,000 hectares to also accommodate 15 different wood related industries. It is going to be like a Chinese village inside that plantation. So there you will have a paper mill, plywood factory and other wood related businesses.
Question: Sir with all these new ideas of companies springing up – how would the government ensure that the prices of good within Ondo State does not skyrocket just like we experienced during the era of bitumen which never surfaced?
Answer: I will like to say this that there are some factors that automatically bring up the prices of commodities and I want to tell you what this administration is doing to make sure this things does not happen. You know I talked about road construction. Apart from the roads, there is a rural access mobility project which the World Bank is partnering Ondo State on. There are about 50 rural roads and the least of them is 10,000kilometer which of course is a major link in connecting the rural communities with the urban centre so that there will be easy access for commodities coming from those areas. When you have a lot of companies producing here in Ondo State definitely, supply will be more than demand and the price will fall. When you have good road and the people can access it and more lands are given to more farmers, there will be access. Maybe you don’t know there is a programme by this government called Youths on the Ridges where the government is giving 100 hectares each to each local government which is going to produce at least 1,000 farmers, of course, these farmers are not going to produce rubber; they are going to produce food so we are going to have surplus food as far as Ondo State is concerned. I don’t know what will happen to other states but we are going to be exporting to other states. Government is giving out loans, roads are going to be okay and there is going to be availability of lands and support subsidies from the government, so I don’t see why prices should not come down.
Question: Ondo State is known for Cocoa product- it is like nobody is hearing anything about cocoa production now?
After the elimination of cocoa board generally, cocoa as a produce now has been left independently in the hands of cocoa farmers. That is one thing we must know but despite that, Ondo State still produce 35% of cocoa in Nigeria. This administration is going to work on what they call cocoa revolution. If you study the budget sir, you will see what government plans to do on cocoa revolution. Also, we discovered something that lots of people have moved into the encroached parts of Ondo State Forestry and we see that the previous administration, despite the noise about it was not able to chase them out. Now this administration is looking at what can we do. We know that we have some genuine farmers inside the forest reserve illegally and some are doing cocoa- what they are doing is that they don’t wait to produce cocoa in such a way that it will be marketable, some will hurriedly do it with hot water. Once they harvest, they will use hot water instead of the normal fermentation and spreading in the sun, they will be in a hurry to take the thing away. So when the Governor came, he said ‘No’- this is what we need to do. We need to call these genuine farmers and this is what I tell people if the government can negotiate with militants, negotiate with Boko Haram, what stops the government from negotiating with the encroachers. First, we must preserve the sanctity of our reserve so we must also ensure that those who have found themselves there do not enlarge themselves unnecessarily, bringing more people-because they are there illegally and they are not accessing counseling from experts. We had to introduce them to highbred, teaching them that they do not necessarily need to go and enlarge their famr spot. We believe they can still use the same available space and get good result by using highbred. And if anyone thinks anything is wrong with the land, they can use more nutrients on the land. Apart from that, the quality of the produce now is better- they now have time to sieve it, ferment and dry it. So with that, we are able to get more from them. We are able to increase our quality as far as cocoa is concerned in Ondo State. Let me tell you, if you sieve yr cocoa now – let’s assume they are selling a kilogram for N3,000 ordinarily, if they do it to meet international standard, they should sell for around N10,000. So, what happens is that back door buyers buy from them and do the right thing and sell at a higher price. Meanwhile, if the farmer has done the right thing from the start, they would have sold at a very good price. With that government will be able to generate more money. They will now see reasons why they should not necessarily enlarge in our forest reserves.