The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, yesterday asked for speedy approval of the N83.5 billion loan requested from the 1.68 per cent Development of Natural Resources Fund (DNRF) from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFAC).
Abiodun said the loan if approved, would be used to boost agriculture, tourism and other sectors of the state economy.
The governor stated this while playing host to members of the Fiscal Efficiency and Budget Committee of RMFAC led by its Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Dibal, in his office at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta.
The Dibail-led committee was in Ogun State on an evaluation tour, which was part of the requirements for accessing the facility.
According to Abiodun, the release of the fund would help diversify the state economy as well as complete the ongoing construction of the Agro Cargo airport in the state.
He emphasised that the fund would also be used to develop the agriculture, solid mineral, cultural and tourism sectors towards the enhancement of Adire production and its value chain. Abiodun noted that the Agro Cargo airport, which would be equipped with modern facilities and provided with an agro-processing zone when completed, would serve as a cargo hub for the West Africa region, and provide job opportunities for the youths.
He said: “We intend to tap into the Natural Resources Development Fund, knowing well like you explained that 1.68 per cent is being kept under this fund for the judicious allocation to the three tiers of government by RMFAC. We believe that we can justify the application for N83.5billion. In fact, it is a conservative request, and I think it should be upwardly reviewed because of the areas that we are looking at aggressively.
“Today, we are building the first real Agro Cargo airport in the country. The decision for that airport was made before this administration, but it was a very objective decision. That location is about a kilometre or less from the busiest highway in this country and also about half a kilometre from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. So, access and evacuation is not a problem, and about 5,000 km of land has been preserved for the project.”
The governor maintained that the state has the highest number of reserves-made up of cocoa, rubber, kola nut and palm oil in the country adding that “the state also produces the largest cassava, poultry and eggs in the country as well as the third-largest producer of cotton and rice in the South-west region of the country.
“We have the Olumo Rock and other cultural heritage sites that we intend to further develop. We seek your support in the upgrade of these facilities, and we also want to upgrade the production of our poultry and fishery industries.”
Apart from these, the governor also noted that the state has abundant mineral resources, including limestone and granite, saying part of the fund would be used to address the problem of environmental degradation arising from the mining sites to ensure the safety of the residents.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Adamu Dibal, noted that members of the commission were in the state as part of the process required to access the sum of N83.5billion from the 1.68 per cent Development of Natural Resources Fund requested by the state government in 2020 to diversify the economy of Ogun State.
He explained that the fund was one of the items under the Special Funds established by the Revenue Allocation Act of 2004 to help all the tiers of government in diversifying their economic base, which in turn would create alternative sources of revenue and reduce dependence on oil revenues.