Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, said that the Federal Government had, so far, spent over N1.19 trillion to support the 36 states of the federation.
He said the funds were made available to enable the states pay salaries of workers and meet the challenges of shortage of funds for the execution of programmes in the respective states.
Osibajo made this disclosure at the maiden Kogi State Economy and Investment summit, which attracted various dignitaries including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
According to him, the funds were made available through the Excess Crude Account, the Paris Club refund, loans to states, among others.
He explained that parts of the funds were the entitlements of the states that they had legal access to, while some of them were loans to be repaid.
The vice president noted that the present administration had the highest capital expenditures in two years, adding that these were evident in the ongoing railway line and road constructions as well as hydro power projects across the country.
He said the summit came at the right time that the country was trying to reduce its dependence on oil and increase its non-oil income with the promotion of agriculture and the abundant solid mineral resources across the country.
Osinbajo also said Kogi State was strategically located with vast mineral resources that could make it a hub of commercial activities, adding that the summit was capable of reinvigorating and inspiring the people.
Governor Yahaya Bello of the state, who apologised for his recent comments against Catholic Bishops, however, said the summit was packaged to change the identity of the 27-year-old state from a civil service state to an industrialised one.
He said his administration had, in the last two years, prepared the grounds for economic and industrial breakthroughs for the state by solving the problems that had been hindering economic growth in the state for many years now.
Governor Bello said the state was now safe for investors and investments, adding that the problem of security had been tackled.
In his words, “We are changing the toga of a civil service state to an economic and commercially viable one and we want investors to collaborate with us and contribute to the prosperity of the state.
“Kogi State is now open for business. We want to be signing MoUs. I invite the private sector to collaborate with us in our bid to develop the state. Kogi State is ready for serious business”.
In remark, the minister of solid minerals development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the Federal Government had so far spent over N80 billion to rehabilitate Ajaokuta Steel Company and yet nothing had happened there. He wondered whether the Federal Government should be spending without result.
While buttressing Osinbajo’s claim that a 110 megawatts plant has been constructed for the final take off of the plant, Fayemi said the best thing to do was to concession the plant to foreign investors for optimal performance.
Ooni of Ife in, Oba Ogunwusi, his remark, called on the Federal Government to lay more emphasis on small and medium scale enterprises to reduce unemployment rate among the youths.