Concerned individuals from the Southwest are still reacting to the recent admission of Lagos State into the regional business outfit, Oodua Investment Group. While many said the action would drive the socio-economic integration of the region, others are of the opinion that with the inclusion of Lagos, the dream behind the investment company has just come true, as the group was never complete without the state.
Special Adviser to Governor of Lagos State on overseas affairs and investment, (Lagos Global), Professor Abass Adewole said it took a while for Lagos to join the group because it used to be the Federal capital territory (FCT), so it could not be seen as a Yoruba state until the FCT was moved to Abuja. Also, it was not a priority for previous administrations.
Many have welcomed the idea with great enthusiasm. Some believe Oodu’a is finally complete with the addition of Lagos State. Others see it as a mutually beneficial relationship.
“The admission of Lagos into the group is not just a promotion for the state, but also the completion of Oodu’a itself. I am happy that Lagos has finally joined the Oodu’a group, which can now say it is complete. With a population of about 22million people, and N136b GDP, and the fact that 95 percent of foreign direct investment (FDI) comes to Lagos, the state is expected to be a hub. We are hoping that other Southwest states can start thinking of regional infrastructural development. There is need for regional transportation system between member states, like it is done in Europe and some other countries. And now that the circle is completed, it will make things easier. Also, there is need for a central educational system in the region and even health infrastructure, which will become easier to create. The benefits are tremendous; states will also be able to latch on to their development ability, because of the drive and agenda for all members of the region,” he said.
For the Director General of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission (DAWN), Mr. Oladipo Famakinwa, synergy for improvement is important for Oodua states, especially in terms of economies of scale and investment.
“Lagos will come on board to synergize and strengthen what is on ground to improve the company’s fortunes. The dynamics of nation building is one of the reasons why it took so long for it to happen. Some things happen early, while others happen later because it takes consultation, force of personality and political will for it to happen. DAWN is a programme management body for the actualisation of regional integration agenda.
Chairman of Oodu’a Group, Dr. Isaac Akintade, said the listing of Lagos in Oodua Group comes with huge prospects for all the parties involved.
According to him, there is a lot to gain in terms of economy, culture, social interactions and strategic partnership among others.
Akintade explained that evaluation of assets to determine the value and the new shareholding structure process is ongoing.
“What we are currently doing is to assess all Oodu’a assets to determine the total value. It will be divided equally with what Lagos brought into it, which would be shared equally. Economically, we have so many investments in Lagos, and it is possible to form economic bloc because there are so many things we can do together for joint regional development,” he said.
The group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Oodua Investment group, Mr. Adewale Raji, said Oodua investment group was not a complete entity because of Lagos State’s absence, which he said was once in the group up till the creation of states in 1967, noting that its admission was only a repeat of history.
“Taking a step back into history, what currently is geographically called Lagos State was all part of Western Region, until the creation of States in 1967. Then, Western Region started from Jibowu, Yaba and includes all of what we know as old Ikeja, Epe and Ikorodu Divisions. In fact the entire Ikeja Industrial Estates around Oba Akran Avenue, Adeniyi Jones and Ogba were creations of the then Western Region government within their geographical jurisdiction. In essence, the rejoining of Lagos State and accepting them it back into Oodua Group is clearly a repeat of history,” he said.
On the expected impact of Lagos in the group, he said, “We look forward to tremendous changes with Lagos State joining Oodua. The scale of synergy that we intend to achieve is geometric rather than arithmetic. Our membership will become six from five and the expectations of the owner states and stakeholders are that we are not looking for an economic and social impact of six, but that of 20 and more. Extensive complementarities of the six states are expected. The commercial and financial muscles of Lagos will strengthen Oodua Group to play optimally on a regional basis and scale. Lagos will bring increased capability and perhaps added vigour and drive to the Group.
“Lagos is the commercial hub of Nigeria and its membership of Oodua Group allows us to take regional integration as the cornerstone of our strategic thrust. In our strategic planning, the entire South West region and the comparative advantages of its constituent states will be paramount. Lagos, with its huge population and vibrant economic base, needs support of the entire region in many key areas, particularly the adjoining states for complimentary infrastructural development on transport, housing, food supply, etc. In essence, there are mutual benefits accruing to Lagos and other Oodua states with this development.”
On the possibility of forming a regional economic block, using Oodua group, Raji said there would be emergence of a regional economic block, as a result of the acceptance of Lagos into the group, adding that the focus would be accelerated economic development with sustainable impact.
Oodu’a Investment Company Limited, also known, as Oodu’a Group is a conglomerate with diversified subsidiaries, which include Cocoa Industries Limited in Ikeja, Epe Plywood Industries Limited and Oodu’a Printing and publishing Co. Ltd. The Group holds stakes in Nigerite Ltd. and Lafarge Cement WAPCO Plc. Oodu’a Group is also a player in the hospitality industry in Nigeria with hotels such as Lagos Airport Hotel Ikeja, Premier and Lafia Hotels both in Ibadan among others.