Ondo Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has assured that the state will be the number one destination of investors in Nigeria by 2020.
He stated this during the inauguration of the board of the State Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA) on Thursday in Akure, the state capital.
Akeredolu said the state had no reason to rely on federal allocation from Abuja to meet commitments to the people if the large deposits of mineral and agricultural resources were well harnessed.
The Governor lamented that Nigeria spent N300bn annually on importation of bitumen despite the fact that the state had the largest deposit of bitumen in Nigeria which if processed, could reduce pressure on naira and boost the nation's foreign exchange.
The governor also declared that his administration had dedicated 150,000 hectares of land to boost cocoa, oil palm and cassava plantation in the State.
Akeredolu further announced that the first company for Bitumen Exploration and Processing in Nigeria would commence operation in the state before the middle of 2018.
He said, "We are the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria. We are the largest producer of cassava in Nigeria. We have the largest deposit of limestone in Nigeria; let me inform this gathering that Ondo has the largest deposit of bitumen in Africa and second in the world.
"I want to use this opportunity to announce to this gathering that the first company for Bitumen Exploration and Processing in Nigeria will commence operation in our state before the middle of 2018.
"We are the largest producer of oil palm and cashew nut in South West. We have dedicated 150,000 hectares of land to boost cocoa, oil palm and cassava in Ondo State. We have major cash crops; maize, rice, soya beans, citrus, plantain; coffee, cowpea; we have the highest load of granite in South west.
"We have large rubber plantations in Ondo. We have oil and gas; we are the 4th largest producer of oil and gas in Nigeria, we can use gas to power of electricity. We are also the hub of tourism.
"The Smoking Hills and golf resort at Ilaramokin is the largest in Nigeria and the third largest in Africa. The longest hill on the continent of Africa is here. Ebomi Lake Tourist Centre is here. The International Culture and Event Centre (DOME) where we are hosting this event is the biggest in South West.
"The popular igbo olodumare is in my town at Okeigbo and to the glory of God, the largest palace in Africa, the Olowo palace domicile here in our state. From Lagos to Akure and Akure to Lagos now take 25 minutes by air.
"Furthermore, to ensure that inter-state movement is made easy, Ondo State just signed a memorandum of understanding with Niger/Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the construction of 45km Araromi-Epe road to be completed before the end of 2018", he stressed.
Assuring the investors of their safety in the state, Akeredolu said "ONDIPA means business. The mandate of ONDIPA is to ensure that private sectors have no problem doing businesses in Ondo State. Today, you do not need to go to ministries to register your business and process papers; ONDIPA will do everything for you.
"I want to assure investors that whatever Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we sign with you will be fulfilled with sanctimonious attention. We would not compromise integrity. In three years, i want to see Ondo being the number destination of investors in Nigeria.
"I want to export our cash crops and mineral resources to reduce pressure on our naira to boost our foreign exchange. My office is opened to investors. ONDIPA is open. The office of ONDIPA is even beside my office" he stated.
ONDIPA, saddled with responsibility of managing the state's investment promotion and multilateral cooperation and chaired by the Governor, has Special Adviser on Development and Investment, Mr. Boye Oyewumi as Vice-chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Members of the agency are Commissioners for Commerce and Industry and Agriculture, the Vice-President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Mrs Cecilia Akintomide, CEO, Delta Africs, Engr. Olu Odumakinde.
Present at the event were Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi and his wife, Secretary to the state Government, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, and several other government functionaries.
Others were Professor Adesoji Adesugba, representative of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Omolola Adegbenga, human rights activists, Femi Falana, Executive Director, Energy Renewal Division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Alhaji Abdulahi Adamu, Director General, National Emergency Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Mustapha among others.