When we last gathered here for this forum two years ago, Nigeria was slipping into its worst recession in decades.
The ultimate goal has been the diversification of the economy, away from the kind of unhealthy dependence on oil and gas revenues that led us to the dire straits in which we found ourselves.
We were also zealous about reversing the trend of under-investment in infrastructure that had characterized our recent history. But perhaps most importantly, we have reversed grand corruption in public finance, and the impunity which attended the conduct of public business especially in the past five years.
Today, with less revenue but no leakage, we have increased funding capital in Power, Works and Housing, Defence, Transportation and Agriculture by as much as 400%.
Today, we are two quarters out of the recession and firmly on the path of recovery. Our external reserves are at their highest levels in five years. Inflation has dropped for 13 consecutive months, manufacturing confidence is on the rise.
Already, Ogun State is the industrial hub of the nation, but it must also be the business hub; it must also be a business district of choice for everyone who wants to do business in Nigeria.
It feels almost inevitable, that as Lagos grows in the most feasible direction: which, of course, is upward; that Ogun State is going to be a very important rival indeed.
This proximity between both states and the fact that they will significantly affect each other for good or for ill in the years to come ought to be the starting point for more deliberate economic cooperation between the two States.
The closeness to Benin Republic means that Ogun is a potential trade gateway to West Africa and the rest of the continent. This is one potential that must be exploited. So, we must see a sub-regional meeting, a sub-regional summit between Lagos, Benin Republic and Ogun State. This is the kind of collaboration and cooperation that will take us to the destination that we set for ourselves.
The words of the Ogun State Anthem, a persuasive call to labour, to service, offer a fitting way to end this address. “Omo Ogun, ise ya a. Ise po fun wa lati se e.” “Ise si po fun wa lati se o!”