Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, said the Federal Government has spent over N1.19 trillion to support the 36 states of the federation pay workers salaries and finance other development projects.
Osinbajo 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 (ECA), the Paris Club refund and loans to the states.
He explained that parts of the funds were the entitlements of the states that they legally had access to, while some of them were loans to be repaid in future.
The vice president noted that the present administration had the highest capital expenditure in two years, adding that these were evident in the ongoing rail line and road constructions as well as the hydro power projects.
Osinbajo 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.
He 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.
Speaking at the occasion, state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who apologised for his recent comments against Catholic bishops, said the summit was packaged to change the identity of the 27 years old state from a civil service state to an industrialised one.
He said his administration had in the last two years prepared the ground for economic and industrial breakthroughs for the state by solving the problems that had been hindering economic growth in the state.
Bello said the state was now safe for investors and investments, adding that the problem of security had been tackled.
He said, “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 for serious business.”
In his remarks, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the Federal Government has so far spent over N80 billion to rehabilitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company and yet nothing has happened. He asked rhetorically that should the Federal Government 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, he said the best thing to do was to concession the plant to foreign investors for optimal performance.