Oyo Governor, Seyi Makinde, has said he will partner France to develop the state in different areas, including education, agriculture, security and economic expansion.
The governor stated this when he received a delegation of the French government, led by France Ambassador to Nigeria, Jerome Pasquier, at the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde said he was ready to seek help wherever necessary to turnaround the economy of Oyo State and take the state away from its sole dependence on federal allocations.
He said: “There are few things I will like to draw your attention to. One is, when we came in, we had the national anthem and we said let’s have Oyo State anthem. It is simply to reinforce the fact that this is a federation. It is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which means the governments at the centre and at the state level are coordinated.
“One is not subordinate to the other. So, we are at liberty to actually develop a relationship with other entities in government and agencies of government.
“For Oyo State government, under our watch, we believe we should be allowed to grow at our own pace.
So, some of the things you have listed as your areas of interest are things that are very interesting to us. They are within the federal arrangement and our ability to chart a course for the state. We won’t be leaning on ourselves for support,” the governor said.
Makinde, who explained his administration was seeking to develop Oyo State through four major areas of focus, namely: education, health, security and economic expansion, explained how his administration reviewed the 2019 budget downward but increased the education budget to 10 percent.
The governor further explained how his administration had been making efforts to transform the health sector and ensure the security of lives and property, noting that the fourth major focus of his government was economic expansion through agriculture and agriculture value chain.
“We don’t have oil in Oyo State and we have to decouple our economy from depending on federal allocation. So, we will look for where we have comparative advantage, which is our land. If you may know, Oyo State is actually as big as your neighbour, Belgium, in terms of land size and vegetation.
“So, I will look for help wherever I can get it, because we need all the supports we can get and we guarantee that we will be open with all the assistance we get. We will be ready to open our books so that you can see that supporting Oyo State is not like pouring water in a basket.
“We are open for business and we want to give confidence to the international community that we are going to be transparent,” Makinde said.
Earlier, Pasquier said there were a lot of things the French government could do with Oyo, expressing the willingness of his country to work with the state in agriculture and developing strong links that could help tertiary education in the state.