In November, 2020, Gboyega Isiaka was appointed the Board Chairman, Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone by the governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Among many quarters, the appointment was seen as fitting and appropriate, since Isiaka was one of the masterminds of the zone’s establishment in the state, in 2007, during the Otunba Gbenga Daniel -led administration.
While addressing newsmen after a facility tour of the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone on Saturday, Isiaka was quick to lay down a marker, as he critically assessed the zone’s operations since 2007 when it started.
According to him, apart from over 6,000 jobs created since it started operations, the zone had increased the excise duty payment made to the Customs by 300 per cent.
He also noted that 80 companies had obtained operational licenses since the establishment of OGFTZ in 2007.
Isiaka put the worth of investments in the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone, Igbesa at “more than $300m.”
“We all know that this establishment started sometimes in 2007 when the joint venture agreement was signed and since then, a lot of things have happened, some very good, some very rough, some very tough, but in all, we thank God for where we are, from where we started at, even though we are not where we ought to be.” he said.
He identified some of the challenges facing the zone and its host community in Igbesa, as land encroachment, payments for compensation, poor road infrastructure, inter-agency rivalry, as well as toll collection issues.
Isiaka also listed some of the initiatives to include dry port, parking lot and other possibilities that would promote and enhance the value of the investment at Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone.
“The board is driven by the vision to make this place a lot functional, to drive growth and to drive development, to strengthen the sanity that is in this place; and to ensure the zone pursues the objective of the founding fathers.” he noted.
“We are going to effect necessary changes to the structure we run to reflect laws of the land and the joint venture agreement that was sign. We are immediately creating an office that will interface more with community and government related matters.”
“We are going to put in place an MoU drafting committee, that committee will include five members from the community and land owners, four members from Ogun Guangdong free trade zone including the enterprises and two that will be discretional.” he said.
Taking into account perceived conflicts of interests, especially between the host community and the Zone, the Board chairman vowed to promote fairness of all the stakeholders – the community, the investors, the agencies and the employers’ welfare.
He assured that the board will work towards setting up a community social responsibility fund that would be used to achieve the corporate social responsibility drive of the zone.
More importantly, the board Chairman said the Agbara/Igbesa road which has been a major challenge for road users will be done under a public-private partnership initiative, in good time.
In the meantime, Mr Hanson Huang, the General Manager, African China Investment Company commended the new board of OGFTZ for efforts put in place to better the zone.
Huang said there were many developments and achievements recorded so far in the zone.
“We have so many developments and achievements happening in this area, we believe we can get more support for the development of the free trade zone.
“I hope we can work hand in hand with Ogun state government and the community and go further to create a better future for everyone,” he said.”