The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has absolved himself from blame in the loss of the multi-billion naira Dangote Refinery by his state to neighbouring Lagos State.
Abiodun made his position known in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, on Tuesday.
He submitted that any true born Ogun State indigene would sincerely be pained by the huge investment loss.
He accused his immediate past predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, of being liable to blame.
The Governor, who was reacting to criticisms in some quarters linking him to the loss of the refinery project, contended that it was Amosun that “killed the project and frustrated the promoter of Dangote Refinery out of the state”.
Although he did not specifically mention Amosun’s name, the governor maintained that his predecessor, who served between 2011 and 2019, had a personal axe to grind with Aliko Dangote, who was promoting the refinery project in the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state, several years ago.
He explained that despite all his efforts as chairman of the Committee on the Olokola Free Trade Zone projects during Amosun’s first term, the former governor frustrated his efforts and those of his committee.
The statement partly read: “Any true born Ogun indigene will sincerely be pained by the huge investment loss, especially when Ogun had been marked as the most suitable natural location for the mega project in Olokola Free Trade Zone, in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state.
“As we are all aware, penultimate administration made appreciable and concerted efforts to ensure that the Olokola deep sea port and other ancillary projects in the OKFTZ, become a reality, by rallying major players in the oil and gas sector, including Dangote Group.
“But, the successive government between 2011 and 2019, for reasons best known to it, killed the project and frustrated the promoter of Dangote Refinery out of the state.
“The present governor, Dapo Abiodun, served as the Chairman of the Committee on the Olokola Free Trade Zone projects during the first term of the immediate past governor.
“Governor Abiodun, as the chairman of the committee and a big player in the oil and gas industry himself, did everything possible to make sure the project saw the light of the day.
“The then governor, perhaps, having a personal axe to grind with the promoter of the refinery project, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, frustrated all the efforts of Governor Abiodun and his committee.
“The immediate Chairman, Board of Directors of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) Mrs. Ronke Sokefun, who was then a commissioner, served as the Secretary of the committee, which engaged Dangote on the mega project.
“Instead of showing enthusiasm towards hosting the project in the state, the former governor brazenly opposed and obstructed efforts of the Abiodun-led committee in ensuring that the OKFTZ came into fruition.
“Having become governor in 2019, it is on record that Governor Dapo Abiodun had always rued the missed opportunity and he’d embarked on efforts in reawakening the OKFTZ. At different forums, the governor had made it known that the Olokola project is a gold mine waiting to be tapped by the state.
“Apart from that, he has continued to shop for would-be investors to bring the project to life. His administration has not relented in bringing net-worth players in oil and gas as well as maritime, to ensure that the natural resources in OKFTZ such as bitumen, natural deep seaport, marine and natural gas are tapped for the economic development of Ogun State.
“Even, before Aliko Dangote declared on Monday at the official commissioning of the refinery in Lagos, that Ogun was the next port of call, Governor Abiodun was already wooing Dangote to reconsider the Gateway State.
“Conclusively, Governor Abiodun-led administration can never be held either directly or vicariously responsible for the loss of Dangote Refinery. All Ogun State indigenes know the administration that worked against the economic development of the state, all in the name of bad politics and shenanigans.
“Rather, Governor Abiodun’s government should be applauded for working to revive OKFTZ.”