Ease of doing business: Kano’s experience from Ogun through PERL
By Muhammad Hamisu Abdullahi
Despite its global World Bank ranking of being second to the last among the 36 states of the federation in 2011 in terms of ease of doing business, Ogun State has carved a niche for itself with the subsequent breakthroughs it recorded within the review period, thus becoming a giant of investment following its ability to embrace enabling environment for survival of businesses in the state.
According to the bank’s ranking in 2011, the state was 35th, just one step ahead of the last as all indices for the ease of business were then lacking.
But however, on assumption of office in 2011, the administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosu saw it necessary to diversify efforts towards doing the needful to support the investment sector, thus introducing various incentives that attracted huge volume of investors who now invested massively in the state.
It is on record that between the year 2011 and now, the Amosu administration has paved the way for the emergence of over 304 factories and companies in addition to many more coming over in the state.
These revelations were made by the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Engr. Jonathan Onojobi, who represented the Special Adviser to the state Governor on Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Fumi Ajaye at an occasion to mark ‘Ogun-Kano Learning Exchange on Better Business Environment’ held at Park Inn Hotel between Monday and Tuesday in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State and supported by DFID-Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL).
He made two presentations on an ‘Overview of Doing Business in Ogun-The Experience’ and ‘Incentives of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’ respectively.
The Permanent Secretary said what aided the state to achieve the giant stride in the investment portfolio were many things, among which was its ability to ensure the security of lives and property, thus making the business environment conducive in the state, in addition to infrastructural development vis-a-vis a mini power provision to augment the National Grid and serve government ministries, departments, agencies, hospitals, water facilities and others, while the National Grid was left to serve the industries.
He said improved land policy, stakeholders engagement, establishment of one-stop-shop investment center, funding/support to small businesses and relationship with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission were among other things that aided the state investment milestone, stressing that among the objectives of his ministry was to make the state an investment destination in the country.
Earlier in his goodwill message, Engr. Onojobi described the cross-learning event as very good, stating that the state governor, Senator Amosu was up and doing in providing enabling environment for businesses to thrive, explaining that the Ogun Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OGUNCCIMA) was very happy to receive the visitation from Kano.
“We can use the experience shared to increase the standing and rating of Nigeria on the World Bank Rating,” he stressed.
In his presentation on various areas where ease of doing business has recorded successes in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ibrahim, talked on how the sector has helped in producing raw materials for the industries in the state.
Mr. Ibrahim mentioned agricultural land allocation procedures, where a land unit was established in the ministry to ease the operation of land administration in the state, which involves three stages; namely application letters, interview and approval as helping investment in the state.
He said the ministry also conducts what it calls crop extension exercise, where physical counting of crops and trees in addition to other assets are done with a view to ensuring proper compensation to residents of the land acquired.
According to him, agricultural land mediation effort of the ministry has helped in resolving issues surrounding land, stating that the initiative was intended to prevent hindrance to investment in the state.
He said farm mechanisation services were introduced for ease of access to farm in the state, saying that bulldozers were bought to clear vegetated land, considering the fact that the area is part of those with high concentration of vegetation in the nation.
While Mr. John Sowumi made a presentation on Dual Vocational Training (DVT), an OGUNCCIMA programme which focuses attention on improvement of vocational education within the state and the country’s enterprises just to transform the lives of young people.
Mr. Sowumi said the training at the center was a need-based, adding that even degree holders could receive training from the center.
The national Team Leader of PERL-ECP, Adiya Ode was not left out at the event.
In her goodwill message, she expressed delight with the conduct of the event, reiterating that the organisation was very happy to be associated with the development as various organisations sat together to think on how to create jobs for others and share ideas, describing the two states of Ogun and Kano as sharing similar things in common.
“Kano and Ogun are similar because they are commercial power houses. The event is not a teaching mission but intended for sharing learning,” she told the participants.
Ode urged them to share and create linkages between themselves, hoping that they would go back homes with a decision to vision.
She said Kano had in the past been recognised as groundnut pyramid (while Ogun was trying to become a fish pyramid), adding that she wanted the legacy to come back in Kano, urging the stakeholders to work harder towards achieving the objectives, hoping that as OGUNCCIMA hosted the event, one day it will visit Kano for a similar mission.
Contributing to the progress of the event, the president of the National Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), who was the immediate past president of OGUNCCIMA, Chief (Mrs.) Adesola Adebutu described the state ministry of commerce and industry as a partner in progress, appreciating the support of the state government to them, revealing that the state governor, Senator Amosu supported the chamber financially and materially, adding that the support gave them an opportunity to train their staff.
She added that the government also donated a building for the training exercise, pointing out that good interaction between the chamber and the government was what informed their successes, stating that the state governor had even extended such support to NACCIMA with donation of a vehicle to it, urging the participants to try to get closer to their respective state governments for the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Alhaji Wasiu Babatunde Olaleye, the 1st Deputy President of OGUNCCIMA, while giving a goodwill message at the event, noted that the event would be a good opportunity to discuss and contribute together on how the private sector could engage government towards improving good governance, lamenting that the country has been the largest importer of goods from foreign countries to include rice and even fish, “while we can look inward to solve the issue by having synergy between the organised private sector and the public sector,” he said, lamenting further that such a synergy was not there, hoping that it would exist.
Also, in her goodwill message, the Deputy President of Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KACCIMA). Hajiya Aisha Sulaiman Baffa thanked PERL for supporting the initiative and OGUNCCIMA for hosting the event, hoping that the visit would be fruitful for both Kano and Ogun so that they would take away something very special from it.
Earlier, the PERL’s State Partnership Facilitator in Kano, Malam Yunusa Hamza had read the objectives of the event as to pick lessons on how an enabling environment by government has helped to make doing business easy in Ogun State for advocacy in Kano; identify how the private sector has utilised such an enabling environment in Ogun State; learn how challenges were addressed in doing business in Ogun State; and undertake a physical learning tour of key government ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals in Ogun State that are involved with improvements to the business environment.
As these objectives suggest, a tour was undertaken on day two, first, to a Dual Vocational Training (DVT) center belonging to the Ogun chamber in collaboration with German chamber at Idi-Aba Technical College in Abeokuta, the capital of the state as well as the Ogun State Technical Institute that gives training on specialised skills.
From there, the team was at the state ministry of commerce and industry and was able to meet with members of the state Ease of Doing Business Committee who were holding a meeting as they were drawn from various organisations in the state.
Then the team later visited the premises of Apple and Pears Company, the processors of soya beans and producers of various food products to include vegetable oil and mayonnaise, which gets most of its raw materials from the Northern part of the country, Kano inclusive. It has the capacity to produce about 200 tones of the product per day.
Mr. James Kayode Sholanke, a Kano-born Head Corporate Affairs of the firm, who told the team that it was previously operating in Kano, but about five years ago, due to insurgency, relocated to Ogun in 2013 to start there, expressed delight with the state for its warm reception to the company.
The team was also at the headquarters of OGUNCCIMA, an amalgamation of all city chambers in the state, where its president, Prince (Chief) Adele Oba Kolawole Lawal, who just returned from the United States of America, warmly received the delegation, revealing that the state was ranked second in the global ranking of ease of doing business in the nation, thanking the Kano team for the tour.
In an interview with one of the Kano team, the representative of the state Investment Advisory Committee (headed by Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II himself), the District Head of Gwale, Dan Majen Kano, Alhaji Yahaya Inuwa Abbas, described the trip to Ogun as a successful learning experience.
“We have seen what Ogun State Government and private sector have done to encourage investment in the state.They came with policies and initiatives that attracted investors. The government provided enabling environment,” Alhaji Abbas stated.
He told The Triumph that the cooperation existing among public and private sectors in the state was fantastic, adding further that the situation had enabled new companies to spring up and employ more people in the state.
Alhaji Abbas urged other states in the federation to emulate the Ogun initiative in order to attract more investment.
The Kano team comprised members of the private sector to include the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, National Association of Small Scale Industrialist, Kano State Traders Union, Kano Investment Advisory Committee, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn, the media and the public sector to include representatives of the state Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Cooperatives and Tourism and Kano Internal Revenue Service, while Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture led the tour.