Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Tuesday, absolved himself of blame in the situation that led to the relocation of the $19bn Dangote refinery from Ogun State to Lagos.
Abiodun, who confirmed that he was Chairman, Olokola Free Trade Zone, in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state during the administration of former governor Ibikunle Amosun, said he was not part of the moves that frustrated Dangote out of the state.
The governor, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin on Tuesday, said he should not be blamed for the loss.
Dangote had initially chosen Ogun State for the site of the refinery, which was inaugurated on Monday, in Lagos, but discussion broke down between Ogun State government and the billionaire businessman, leading to the relocation of the project to Lagos.
In the statement on Tuesday, he said his predecessor, Amosun, should be blamed Ogun lost the opportunity to host the mega refinery.
“Any true born Ogun indigene will sincerely be pained by the huge investment loss, especially when Ogun had been marked as the most suitable natural location for the mega project in Olokola Free Trade Zone, in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state,” the governor lamented.
Explaining his role, he said, “Governor Abiodun, as the chairman of the committee and a big player in the oil and gas industry himself, did everything possible to make sure the project saw the light of the day.
“The then governor, perhaps, having a personal axe to grind with the promoter of the refinery project, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, frustrated all the efforts of Governor Abiodun and his committee.
“The immediate Chairman, Board of Directors of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, who was then a commissioner, served as the secretary of the committee, which engaged Dangote on the mega project.
“Instead of showing enthusiasm towards hosting the project in the state, the former governor brazenly opposed and obstructed efforts of the Abiodun-led committee in ensuring that the OKFTZ came into fruition.”
Abiodun’s statement was in reaction to a former governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Segun Sowunmi, who blamed the incumbent governor for the loss of the $19bn Dangote refinery.
Meanwhile, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, on has felicitated Dangote on the inauguration of the integrated refinery.
Sule, who spoke during the opening and handover of the 2.2 kilometre Loko-Oweto Bridge constructed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), described the refinery as “the end of the energy crisis in Nigeria.”
On the bridge, Sule said, “It’s another dream come true for the people of Loko and Oweto in Nasarawa and Benue States respectively, as well as all the Southeastern part of the country. We are celebrating a dream come true of the bridge.
“Mr President, we can’t thank you enough. We believe you have paid your dues, you have done well for us and by the grace of God, God will be kind also to you.”
Also, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Tuesday said the 650,000bpd Dangote refinery had opened a new vista of opportunity for the nation’s economy, saying, “What this means is that we will be saving up to $15bn in a year for not importing. That’s more than the amount we spend today on all our infrastructure, education, and health. That sort of money is coming back to the government for growth.”
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement on Tuesday congratulated Dangote on the refinery, describing him as a game changer.
Gbajabiamila said Dangote’s “patriotic pan-Nigerian posture” is worthy of emulation by other Nigerian investors and wished the billionaire well “in his endeavour towards making Nigeria a virile economic giant in Africa.”