Ondo State and Ekiti State, both located in southwestern Nigeria, share a close political and economic relationship. Historically, Ekiti State was carved out of the old Ondo State in 1996, leading to the establishment of two separate state governments with distinct administrative structures.
The political and economic relationship between Ondo State and Ekiti State in Nigeria has been characterized by mutual benefit and collaboration. Ekiti indigenes in Ondo State have made positive contributions to the state’s economy, cultural diversity, and community development. Their active participation and involvement have strengthened the bond between the two states, fostering growth and prosperity for the southwest region.
The approval of the Ondo Deep Sea Port, the development of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ), and the establishment of the Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport mark significant milestones in the economic transformation of Southwest Nigeria. These projects, driven by the visionary leadership of the governments of Ondo and Ekiti states, in collaboration with the Federal Government, have the potential to unlock immense economic prosperity and positive implications for the region. This piece explores the importance of these initiatives and highlights the benefits they bring to the owner states, as well as the collective positive implications for Ondo State, Ekiti State, and the entire Southwest region. I appreciate the visionary leadership of Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Odunayo Akeredolu of Ondo State and former Governor Dr. John Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State for their instrumental roles in the development of three significant projects. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of His Excellency Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji present governor of Ekiti State, who has continued to drive progress in the state. Furthermore, I commend the efforts of first civilian governor of Ekiti-state/incumbent minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti State, and the Honourable Minister of Transportation (State) Prince Ademola Adegoroye from Ondo State for their valuable representation and their role in obtaining the federal government’s support for these projects.
The Ondo Deep Sea Port: A Gateway to Economic Growth
The approval of the Ondo Deep Sea Port by the Federal Government is a cause for celebration. This strategic infrastructure project will serve as a conduit for goods and agricultural produce, boosting trade and commerce in Ondo State. With the potential to handle large cargo vessels, the port will facilitate import-export activities, attract investments, and create employment opportunities. Additionally, the port’s proximity to the state’s bitumen reserves positions Ondo as a significant player in the global bitumen market. By maximising the potential of the Ondo Deep Sea Port, the state government aims to propel Ondo State towards sustained economic prosperity and unleash its true potential.
Ekiti Knowledge Zone: Fostering Innovation and Collaboration
The Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ) is a visionary project that leverages Ekiti State’s comparative advantage to create a vibrant ecosystem of innovative businesses. This world-class knowledge park aims to foster collaboration, technology transfer, and research and development. With its strategic location, close proximity to Lagos and Abuja, and renowned educational institutions, EKZ is poised to attract domestic and international investments in various sectors, including ICT, software development, skills development, and commercial services support. The development of EKZ as a public-private partnership underscores the commitment of the Ekiti State Government to drive economic growth, create jobs, and ensure inclusive socio-economic development for its citizens.
Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport: Enhancing Connectivity and Trade
The establishment of the Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport further strengthens Ekiti State’s position as a hub for trade, agriculture, and tourism. This critical component of the state’s broader strategy complements the EKZ and other developmental initiatives. The cargo airport, with its modern facilities and strategic location, will facilitate the export of agricultural products, attract agro-processing industries, and enhance connectivity within the region and beyond. By capitalising on its advantageous position, Ekiti State aims to become a destination of choice for investors, entrepreneurs, and tourists, creating a ripple effect of economic growth and job opportunities.
Synergy and Positive Implications for Ondo, Ekiti, and Southwest Nigeria
The synchronised development of the Ondo Deep Sea Port, EKZ, and Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport establishes a strong foundation for regional integration and economic advancement in Southwest Nigeria. By leveraging the existing economic prowess of Lagos and complementing its myriad developments, these projects foster a synergistic ecosystem that enhances the region’s competitiveness and attractiveness for investment. The seamless connectivity among these key infrastructures strengthens the economic ties between Ondo State and Ekiti State, leading to mutual benefits, knowledge sharing, and increased trade activities. Moreover, the Southwest region as a whole stands to gain from the multiplier effect of enhanced trade routes, improved logistics, job creation, and a surge in economic activities.
Economic Growth and Job Creation: These projects contribute to economic growth by attracting investments, promoting industrialisation, and creating job opportunities. The Ondo Deep Sea Port facilitates international trade, encouraging businesses to establish operations in the region and boosting employment in various sectors, including logistics, manufacturing, and services. The Ekiti Knowledge Zone serves as a hub for innovation and technology-driven industries, attracting businesses and creating high-skilled job opportunities. The Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport supports the agricultural sector by improving the transportation of agricultural products, leading to increased agricultural productivity and employment opportunities.
Infrastructure Development: The implementation of these projects involves the development of critical infrastructure, including transportation networks, industrial facilities, research centres, and educational institutions. This infrastructure not only supports the specific projects but also contributes to the overall development of Ondo State and Ekiti State. It enhances connectivity, facilitates trade and investment, improves access to markets, and creates an enabling environment for economic activities.
Regional Development and Integration: The synergy of these projects extends beyond Ondo State and Ekiti State, benefiting the entire Southwest region and promoting regional integration. The Ondo Deep Sea Port provides a vital maritime gateway, enhancing trade links within the region and connecting Southwest Nigeria to global markets. The Ekiti Knowledge Zone acts as a knowledge and innovation hub, attracting talent, businesses, and investment from neighbouring states and beyond. The Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport supports agricultural trade and connectivity, benefiting farmers, agribusinesses, and consumers across the region.
Revenue Generation: These projects have the potential to generate substantial revenue for the states and the region as a whole. Increased trade activities, investments, and economic growth lead to higher tax revenues for the state governments, which can be utilised for further development initiatives, public services, and social welfare programmes. The projects also create opportunities for revenue generation through fees, tariffs, and other commercial activities associated with port operations, knowledge-based industries, and cargo handling at the airport.
Social and Human Development: The projects contribute to social and human development by promoting education, skills development, and knowledge transfer. The Ekiti Knowledge Zone, in particular, focuses on capacity building, research and development, and fostering a culture of innovation. This leads to the creation of a skilled workforce, improved educational opportunities, and knowledge spillovers, which benefit the local communities and contribute to human capital development in Ondo State and Ekiti State.
The approval and implementation of the Ondo Deep Sea Port, Ekiti Knowledge Zone, and Ekiti International Agro Cargo Airport reflect the unwavering commitment of the Nigerian government to foster economic growth and development in Southwest Nigeria. These projects offer an unprecedented opportunity to unlock the immense potential of the region, accelerate job creation, attract investments, and position the states as vital players in the global economy. It is crucial for stakeholders, including governments, private sector entities, and local communities, to collaborate and maximise the benefits presented by these transformative initiatives. By harnessing the power of synergy, Southwest Nigeria can pave the way for sustainable economic prosperity, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.
ILESANMI ADE-ADEMOLA BRAINBOX
An informal sector and community development expert
MD: Legacy Access Hub Africa (LAH)