Let me state that I am very happy to be at this occasion. My happiness is borne out of the fact that, gradually, the seeds of our toils of the past three and half years or thereabout are becoming manifest in the eyes of the whole world.
When we came into office in 2011, we communicated to our people the vision of making Oyo State the preferred destination of investors. In a society that is driven by understandable pessimism and disbelief of promises of government, very few people could take a bet on our vision. Our detractors and traditional cynics even mocked and jeered at us. Many of them, as usual, played politics with our noble objectives and vision.
As you all know, we met an Oyo State that did not inspire confidence in investors. We were reputed to be the second dirtiest city in Nigeria. Group violence and political murders stalked the land like a pestilence. Many investors left our state in droves and development agencies wrote Oyo State off as a state that had fled from the radar of development.
Inexplicably, providence brought our administration into office at this chaotic period of time. We drew a pyramid of development that had at its foundation an institution of peace and security into an otherwise turbulent Oyo State. For a state that was almost used to bloodshed and political violence, this was unique. We followed it up with a massive urban renewal exercise that had never been witnessed in the history of our state. Even our political adversaries were surprised at our resilience and shocked at the overwhelming result of the exercise.
Encomiums poured in droves from all over the world. Many wondered how we were able to transform the hitherto dirty state into an adorable metropolis. Our response is that our people are the heroes of the transformation.
While the transformation continues, the gospel of our urban renewal effort was predicated on that famous statement by Eleanor, wife of an American President, General Eisenhower, which says that while a leader will take a people to where they want to be, a good leader will take them to where they ought to be.
In our urban renewal and transformation efforts, we have had to engage our people trading on the streets, particularly in flood-prone areas and under high-tension wires/electric cables on the need to ensure their safety and have an environmentally-friendly state. The recent fire disaster at Molete area and the several unfortunate incidents in the state which claimed the lives of our people trading by the roadsides lend credence to our noble stance. Commendably, our people have been patriotic and have shown considerable understanding and cooperation whilst professional cynics went to town to politicize our vision of a better tomorrow for our people. Thank God, that tomorrow has come with our presence here today.
Our vision was based on removing our state from the unpleasant profile of a backward, violent state that drives away investors.
Today, I am one of the happiest persons on earth. The fruits of the discomfort we might have gone through in the process of breaking eggs while making our omelet are apparently ripe for harvest.
Shortly after we banished violence from Oyo State and began our aggressive urban renewal effort, the Financial Times of London ranked our state as one of the ten investment destinations in the whole of Africa. We had hardly finished savouring this pleasant rating when investors indeed began to troop into Oyo State.
Not long after, a report on capital importation recently released by a federal institution, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) became another testament to the vote of confidence passed on the Nigerian market by international investors. As revealed in the report, total capital imported into the country stood at $5.8 billion as at the end of the second quarter of 2014, relative to the $3.9 billion recorded in the preceding quarter. Of these, Southwest Nigeria was at the top destination for capital importation in the first half of 2014, with about 98% of total capital imported resident in the Region. This impressive performance located capital importation into Oyo State as having increased by 697%, approximating $3.49 million, up from $500,000 between the first and second quarter in the year. Happily, our uninformed and mischievous cynics have again been proved wrong in their assertions that there is capital flight in Oyo State.
Investors who have been trooping here have shown that these statistics are no mere fluke. Right now, Oyo State boasts of the presence of a leading soya milk manufacturing company in Nigeria, the largest bread-making factory West Africa, the Number One day-old chicks agricultural company in Nigeria, the biggest support service provider for the telecoms industry in Nigeria, among others. If you add the largest Shoprite outlet in West Africa that has been recently sited in our state, you will understand how a secure and peaceful atmosphere, as well as an environmentally conducive state, are essential for employment generation and indeed the economic development of the people. Add all these to the rebirth of night life in the capital city, as manifest in the many hospitality industries that have sprung up in the nooks and crannies of Oyo State, you will realize why development experts say that peace and security are the foundation of any society.
The latest icing on our cake of harvest of a peaceful and environmentally friendly state is the event we have come to witness today. The establishment of Rom Oil, an ultra-modern edible oil refinery and margarine plant here in Oyo State, is another testimony to our leadership and investors-baiting policies. This international company, a subsidiary of Flour Mills Plc, is a 400 metric tons per day universal refinery.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the management of this company would never have invested their billions of naira in a violent-prone and dirty Oyo State of the past.
Permit me to state here that thousands of our sons and daughters would be employed by this company. This will have multiplier effects on over a million of their dependants. This indeed is our idea of the so-called stomach infrastructure. We thank the management of the company for their implicit trust and confidence in our state. You have indeed vindicated our stance.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the cumulative effects of our developmental drive and consequent influx of investors into our state will result in employment generation and empowerment of our people. This will positively impact millions of our people. It is the best and most dignifying stomach infrastructure ever.
We want to assure you all that we will not rest on our oars in providing quality leadership for our state. We will continue to do all within our powers to make sure that our state continues to be the preferred destination of investors in Nigeria. This will definitely result in the economic development and progress of our people. For our administration, it is a task that must be done.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new Oyo State.
*Being text of a speech delivered by His Excellency, the Governor of Oyo State, Sen. AbiolaAjimobi, at the commissioning of Rom Oil on November 7, 2014.