A former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, has berated his successor, Dapo Abiodun, for blaming him (Amosun) for the relocation of the $19bn Dangote refinery from Ogun to Lagos State.
In his reaction on Wednesday to a statement by Abiodun on Tuesday that he (Abiodun) should not be blamed for the loss, the Senator representing Ogun Central District said, “It is most uncharitable for anyone to churn out lies that Ogun State was in a position to unilaterally frustrate the project or was responsible for the logjam.”
“With respect to all sides, it accords more with logic to appreciate the fact that Alhaji Aliko Dangote took business decisions of his own in accordance with the goals of his business strategy and risk assessment,” Amosun said.
Putting the records straight, Amosun explained that the Olokola Free Trade Zone project was not solely owned by Ogun State.
According to him, from its conception in 2007, it was a Joint Venture.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria owned the majority 51%, Ondo State Government (14.5%), Ogun State Government (14.5%), and strategic core investors (20%). Alhaji Aliko Dangote, according to the information available to us when we took office, subsequently bought, and took over the 20% equity of the core investors. Ogun State was a minority equity stakeholder only, without proprietary strength and capacity to take sole decisions on the Joint Venture enterprise,” he explained.
Amosun clarified that as Governor at the time, he appointed two carefully chosen stakeholders of Ogun East/Ogun Waterside Local Government extraction to represent Ogun State’s interests in the joint venture enterprise and advise the state.
“These were Dapo Abiodun (now Governor) and Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, then Commissioner for Finance, who incidentally hailed from the host Community of the Olokola project. After Mrs. Adeosun was elevated and became a minister, another son of Ogun East, Lekan Onamusi, took charge and represented Ogun State on the Joint Venture,” he revealed.
The statement read, “Based on the advice of our representatives on the project, we engaged the majority equity holder, FGN and our joint venture partner, Ondo State Government, who were very responsive and eager to have the project in Olokola Free Trade Zone. We also vigorously engaged Alhaji Aliko Dangote and did everything possible to make the enterprise take off. A total of 10,000 hectares of land was made available. As a mere holder of 14.5% equity interest, it is most uncharitable for anyone to churn out lies that Ogun State was in a position to unilaterally frustrate the project or was responsible for the logjam.
“With respect to all sides, it accords more with logic to appreciate the fact that Alhaji Aliko Dangote took business decisions of his own in accordance with the goals of his business strategy and risk assessment.
“Our position was that, at the minimum, 500 hectares from the Ogun State portion be reserved for the host Community, Ogun Waterside, as against ceding the entire land of the Olokola Free Trade Zone. Indeed, at some point and at my instance, our revered Elders, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and Kabiyesi Awujale, Oba Sikiru Adetona were involved, where we all met to ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone.
“Looking back to my time in Ogun State, I remain immensely grateful to God and the good people of our State for the opportunities available to us. Our records of achievements remain incontrovertible. We opened the State to genuine entrepreneurs and investors, which led to the influx of massive private sector investments. We also paid serious attention to the security of lives and properties. Over 200 industries, both local and multinational, birthed in Ogun State.
“In a particular year during our time, 75% of the entire National FDI in the real sector birthed in Ogun State so much so that President Goodluck Jonathan saw the need to visit to commission significant private sector-led projects at least five (5) times. Ogun State, under my watch, was indeed investor-friendly, and investors’ destination of choice as Ogun State literally became the Industrial Capital of Nigeria.
“Ogun State’s economy, at the time, grew faster than the national average. No amount of concocted lies, blackmail and orchestrated falsehood will blight these unparalleled facts.
“It is, therefore, interesting to read that the present Ogun State governor holds me responsible for allegedly scuttling the Olokola project. For the benefit of the good people of Ogun State, Nigerians and posterity, we challenge him, particularly as he was then the chairman appointed to oversee and ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone, to disclose with facts, where he or the Administration was remiss, and which might have led to the project being moved away from Ogun State.”
“The only thing I can recall that the government insisted on, was that about 500 hectares must be set aside and protected for the benefit of our people in Ogun East, and in particular, the host community, Ogun Waterside,” the former Governor explained.
As Governor, Amosun said he would never have knowingly let any opportunity slip past Ogun State and its people, saying he did his best to the satisfaction and conviction of his conscience.
“As I conclude, it is my hope that this intervention will give clarity to the vexed subject of the Olokola Free Trade Zone and the relocation of the Dangote Refinery controversy.
“Once again, I congratulate the Dangote Group and Alhaji Aliko Dangote for the hard work, dedication, and commitment to the results that we all saw on Monday,” Amosun concluded.
Abiodun, on Tuesday, absolved himself of blame in the situation that led to the relocation of the $19bn Dangote refinery from Ogun State to Lagos.
Abiodun, who confirmed that he was Chairman, Olokola Free Trade Zone, in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state during the administration of Amosun, said he was not part of the moves that frustrated Dangote out of the state.
The governor, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, on Tuesday, said he should not be blamed for the loss.
Dangote had reportedly chosen Ogun State for the site of the refinery, which was inaugurated on Monday, in Lagos, but discussion reportedly broke down between the Ogun State government and the billionaire businessman, leading to the relocation of the project to Lagos.