The Oyo State Government has expressed readiness to partner with France to develop the State in different areas of his administration’s focus, which include education, agriculture, security and economic expansion.
The State Governor, Seyi Makinde stated this while receiving a delegation of the French government led by the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mr. Jerome Pasquier, at the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Ibadan.
Governor Makinde said he was ever ready to seek help wherever necessary to turn around the economy of the State.
He said that he would do all within his powers to take the State away from its sole dependence on federal allocations.
The Governor explained that the Federal Republic of Nigeria was a federation in which the governments at the centre and State levels are coordinated and one is not subordinate to the other.
He said that the Oyo State government was at liberty to develop a relationship with other entities in government and agencies of government.
Makinde said, “So, some of the things you have listed as your areas of interest are things that are very interesting to us. They are within the federal arrangement and our ability to chart a course for the State. We won’t be leaning on ourselves for support,” Governor Makinde said.
He told the visitors how his administration reviewed the 2019 Budget downward but increased the education Budget to 10 per cent as part of his efforts to prepare towards a workable economy.
The Governor further explained how his Government had been making efforts to transform the health sector and ensure the security of lives and property.
He said that the fourth major focus of his Government was economic expansion through agriculture and agriculture value chain.
Makinde said that since there was no oil in Oyo State, it is necessary to decouple the State’s economy from depending on federal allocation.
“My administration will look for where the State has comparative advantage, which is land, as it is as big as France’s neighbour, Belgium, in terms of land size and vegetation.
“From the North, it’s derived Savannah, all the way to where we are now, which is rainforest. So, every inch of land here is almost arable and we think we want to utilise agriculture and agriculture value chain to expand our economy,” he explained.
Open for Business
The Governor confirmed that the State was open for business and further gave assurance to the international community that his administration would be transparent.
“So, I will look for help wherever I can get it, because we need all the possible support we can get and we guarantee that we will be open with all the assistance we get. We will be ready to open our books so that you can see that supporting Oyo State is not like pouring water in a basket,” he said.
The leader of the French delegate, Jerome Pasquier, said there were a lot of things that the French government could do with Oyo State.
Helping Tertiary Education
Pasquier expressed willingness of his country’s government to work with the State in agriculture and developing strong links that could help tertiary education.
“There are plenty of things to be done in agriculture. We want to work with you. We can work on agriculture. We are ready to work with you,” he said.
The Executive Adviser to Governor Makinde on Agribusiness, Dr Debo Akande, pointed out that Oyo State was ready to explore opportunities in smart agriculture system and other key areas of agribusiness.
He urged the French delegation to consider partnership with the State in its drive to reposition its economy through its commitment to agriculture revolution.