The former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has denied the allegation that he frustrated business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote from building his N18.5bn refinery in the state.
New Telegraph had on Thursday reported that Governor Dapo Abiodun accused his predecessor, Amosun of killing the project which was supposed to be built at Olokola Free Trade Zone (OKFTZ) in Ogun Waterside Local government area of the state.
Abiodun said Amosun caused the State to lose the multi-billion naira project to Lagos State.
Abiodun who was appointed by Amosun as the Chairman of the Olokola Free Trade Zone said, Ogun lost the project to Lagos because Amosun “had a personal axe to grind with the promoter of the refinery project, Alhaji Aliko Dangote” which according to him frustrated all his efforts.
But, Amosun while reacting to Abiodun’s allegations on Wednesday, said, the Olokola Free Trade Zone was a joint venture between the Federal, Ogun, and Ondo State governments and he could not have singlehandedly frustrated Dangote from executing the project.
Amosun, a Senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District accused Abiodun of being economical with the truth.
The former Governor in a statement by his Media Aide, Bola Adeyemi insisted that his administration “went beyond and above duty and did all we could to ensure that the project saw the light of the day”.
Amosun said, “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.
“Let me put it straight: 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%, the Ondo State government (14.5%), the 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.
“I am proud to put on record for posterity that the brouhaha and misconception about the true and full ownership of the project became confused for reasons of the proactive and investment-friendly disposition of our administration. Ogun State, under my leadership, went beyond and above duty and did all we could to ensure that the project saw the light of day. As Governor at the time, I appointed two (2) carefully chosen stakeholders of Ogun East/Ogun Waterside Local Government extraction to represent Ogun State’s interests in the joint venture enterprise and advise the State. These were Dapo Abiodun (now Governor) and Mrs Kemi Adeosun, then Commissioner for Finance, who incidentally hailed from the host Community of the Olokola project. After Mrs. Adeosun was elevated and became a minister, another son of Ogun East, Lekan Onamusi, took charge and represented Ogun State on the Joint Venture.
“Based on the advice of our representatives on the project, 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.
“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.
“As a mere holder of 14.5% equity interest, 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.
“Concerning all sides, it accords more with logic to appreciate the fact that Alhaji Aliko Dangote took business decisions of his own by the goals of his business strategy and risk assessment.
“It is, therefore, interesting to read that the present Ogun State governor holds me 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.
“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.”