It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this inaugural joint Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit, put together by the governments of both States Lagos and Kano State Governments to provide a common platform for captains of industries, professionals, the organized private sector, public private partnerships, business-to-business, inter-governments-ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on investment opportunities and leading best practices.
This inaugural summit, with the theme “States Partnership as a tool for Sustainable Economic Development”, the first of its kind in our nation is aimed at enhancing the economic development of the two States and by extension promote national unity. This Summit could not have come at a better time owing to the fact that the two states account for the fastest growing and most youthful population in the country.
Nigeria currently faces a national economic challenge with urgent need for drastic remedial actions to refocus the economy on the path to renewal. Most importantly, there is an urgent need to restructure the country’s economy following the adverse impact of the recent fall in commodity prices including global oil prices on our national economy.
We believe that our national economy remains largely undiversified with crude oil sales still accounting for over 90% of total revenue and this means that the economy will remain vulnerable to volatilities in the international oil market unless something is done immediately to stem the tide; hence the reason for this summit.
An important and major key to effective diversification is investment in supporting infrastructure, which will require better cooperation between the Federal and State governments.
Hence the broad objectives of this Summit are to:
- Create awareness of both State Governments’ investment climate and policy thrust;
- Create a platform for dialogue on potential investors in both States;
- Share emerging investment ideas with the target audience and
- Engage States’ unutilized and under-utilized resources towards efficiency and prosperity.
Moving our national economy forward will require ‘thinking without the box’ and we must begin to do things differently.
One way to start will be to explore and expand inter-State relations and strengthen regional competitiveness by maximizing economies of scale, regional optimization of assets and endowments, mitigation of economic afflictions and natural disasters. We see potential areas for this collaboration in the areas of transport infrastructure – roads and rail lines to facilitate market linkages, education, market development, human capacity building, security and intelligence sharing, among others.
Given our current national economic challenges, we believe it is time for us to contribute our quota towards national revival. We urge other States and Regions to begin to leverage on their respective areas of comparative advantage by establishing partnerships towards establishing an inter-state or inter-regional commodity value chain.
The idea of an intra and inter-regional trade and cooperation is not new to Lagos State. Over the past years, our State has collaborated with Kebbi and other states from within the western region to drive economic growth and development.
In furtherance of this economic initiative, we decided to extend the same hand of partnership to Kano State with more expanded scope of offerings on comparative level. The immediate aim of this strategic initiative is to produce about 80% of Nigeria’s agro-allied inputs such as wheat, groundnut, onions, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane and beef. We shall undertake the signing of an MoU in the course of the summit to demonstrate our commitment to the sustainability of this vision.
I am of the opinion that for inter-state and inter-regional trade cooperation to yield the desired result in terms of enhanced inclusive growth across the country, the leadership at all levels of government must demonstrate the will to make the initiative work. Notably, key enabling policies and infrastructure, particularly in the area of transportation, must be in place. Effective cooperation between the Federal and State governments is therefore critical, including prompt refund to states for expenditures made on Federal infrastructure.
We all know that movement of people and goods within our country is done largely by road, which is not cost effective and results in longer delivery/turnaround time. Consequently, we will need to invest in alternative transport infrastructure such as a modern rail network linking all the major cities in Nigeria to provide a faster, cheaper and ultimately, more efficient means of transporting goods between states and regional groupings.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, restoring our economy will require an ‘all hands on deck’ approach. It is obvious and no longer sustainable to operate an economy that is solely dependent on oil.
Government must initiate major reforms aimed at diversification of the economy especially through promotion of inter-state relations and regional competitiveness. Each State must identify its economic areas of comparative strength, articulate a well laid out plan over the short, medium and long term, which must be reviewed periodically to ensure its effectiveness.
We sincerely hope you will find the experiences of the next two days of debate and networking stimulating.
We wish you successful summit and fruitful deliberations.
Thank you all for your attention.
Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko lo jewa l’ogun