Former Ogun State Governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, has reacted to a claim by Governor Dapo Abiodun that he was the reason the Dangote refinery was relocated from the Olokola Free Trade Zone in Ogun State to Lagos State.
Abiodun had on Tuesday accused Amosun of, perhaps, having a personal axe to grind with the promoter of the refinery project, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and, as a result, frustrated all the efforts of the committee chaired by him.
In a statement on Wednesday, Amosun clarified that the Olokola Free Trade Zone project was not solely owned by Ogun State.
“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 availed 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,” Amosun explained.
Amosun stated that his administration did all it could to ensure that the project saw the light of day, especially by Dapo Abiodun and Mrs Kemi Adeosun, then Commissioner for Finance, who incidentally hailed from the host community of the Olokola project.
Based on the advice of the Abiodun-led committee, Amosun said: “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.”
The Ogun Central senator stated further: “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.”
Amosun 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, being a mere holder of a 14.5% equity interest.
“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,” he added.
According to him, the only bone of contention was that, at the minimum, 500 hectares from the Ogun State portion be reserved for the host community, Ogun Waterside, as opposed to ceding the entire land to the Olokola Free Trade Zone.
Amosun said he got former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and Oba Sikiru Adetona involved, “where we all met to ensure that the project was sited in Olokola Free Trade Zone.”
Amosun recalled that the Ogun State economy grew faster than the national average under his watch, saying, “no amount of concocted lies, blackmail, and orchestrated falsehood will blight these unparalleled facts.”
He noted that it was interesting to read that Abiodun holds him 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,” he declared.
He emphasised further: “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.”
He concluded, saying: “As Governor, I would never have knowingly let any opportunity slip past Ogun State and its people. I did my best to the satisfaction and conviction of my 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.”