Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Tuesday, maintained that he was ready to partner with France to develop Oyo State in different areas of his administration’s focus including education, agriculture, security and economic expansion.
The Governor 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, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde stated that he was ready to seek help wherever necessary to turnaround the economy of Oyo State and take the state away from its sole dependence on federal allocations.
He said: “There are few things I will like to draw your attention to. One is, when we came in, we had the national anthem and we said let’s have Oyo State anthem. It is simply to reinforce the fact that this is a federation. It is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which means the governments at the centre and at the state level are coordinated. One is not subordinate to the other. So, we are at liberty to actually develop a relationship with other entities in government and agencies of government.
“For Oyo State government under our watch, we believe we should be allowed to grow at our own pace. 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,” the Governor said.
Governor Makinde, who explained that his Government was seeking to develop Oyo State through four major areas of focus, namely: education, health, security and economic expansion, explained how his administration reviewed the 2019 budget downward but increased the education budget to 10 per cent.
The Governor further explained how his Government had been making efforts to transform the health sector and ensure the security of lives and property, noting that the fourth major focus of his Government was economic expansion through agriculture and agriculture value chain.
“We don’t have oil here in Oyo State and we have to decouple our economy from depending on federal allocation. So, we will look for where we have comparative advantage, which is our land. If you may know, Oyo State is actually as big as your 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 rain forest. 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.
“So, I will look for help wherever I can get it, because we need all the possible supports 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.
“We are open for business and we want to give confidence to the international community that we are going to be transparent,” Governor Makinde said.
Earlier, the leader of the French delegate, Pasquier, said there were a lot of things that the French government could do with Oyo State, expressing the willingness of his country’s government to work with the state in agriculture and developing strong links that could help tertiary education in the state.
"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,” the French Ambassador said.
Also speaking, 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, urging the French delegation to consider partnership with the state in its drive to reposition its economy through its commitment to agriculture revolution.