By Adejoke Adeleye
The Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo has commissioned a new hotel built by the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, eight years after it was locked down by the Ibikunle Amosun administration.
Osinbajo came in with the former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Governor Dapo Abiodun and his wife Bamidele Abiodun, the deputy Governor, Noimot Salako-Oyedele and Daniel’s age-mates in Ijebuland’s Egbe Bobakeye.
Other dignitaries present include Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, former Ogun deputy-governor Salmot Badru, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, traditional Rulers, archbishops and many more.
The completion of the Conference Hotel and Suites was delayed for eight years by the Amosun administration, who also snubbed court orders to vacate stoppage of work at the site.
At the ceremony, Osinbajo, who is also a son of Ogun State, said culture and tourism in the new world order are referred to as soft power because of their influence in economic and international relations.
He said that the location of the facility in Abeokuta would attract international conference organisers desirous of serenity and tourism potentials.
“Indeed, many tourist sites are here in Ogun State including the Olumo Rock, all of the places we have around us today; I don’t want to go through the long list, the Presidential Library and Wole Soyinka Foundation Writers Retreat, and so many other tourist attractions.
“I doubt whether there is a need today to make a business or economic case for tourism.
“In fact, in the new world order, culture and tourism are not merely economic gold mines; they are often referred to as the soft power. In the years ahead, there is no doubt that tourism will increasingly become the driver of economic well-being and job-creator.
“According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourism and hospitality industry in Africa as a whole has a potential of 203.7 billion dollars, out of which only 50 billion dollars is developed due to poor infrastructure.
“UNWTO projects that international tourist arrivals to Africa in 2020 will be 77.3 million, representing an annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.’’
He said that the government was investing massively in critical infrastructure such as railway and road construction to ease human traffic and movement of goods and position the country for a bigger share of the global tourism market.
The vice president said that President Muhammadu Buhari had set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to drive the Ease of doing Business Reforms.
“Our simple mandate is to do everything to make sure that Nigeria becomes an easier place to do business.
“We are pushing the necessary reforms, cleaning up our airports, introduced visa on arrival, freeing up licenses and approval processes, among others and focusing on key infrastructural projects.
“For instance, earlier this year, I had the pleasure of commissioning the Lagos-Abeokuta railway. In fulfilment of the promise we made then, I am now pleased to announce that we have added the Lagos-Ibadan service; starting with free rides through the Christmas season– therefore linking Ogun, Lagos and Oyo States by modern railway.
“We will be linking Ogun, Lagos and Oyo by modern railway and we are going all the way to Kano.
“We are working also with the state government on the ease of doing business and this is an important part of the economic policies of the Buhari administration. In 2016 the president set up what is called the Presidential Enabling Business Council to drive our ease of doing business. Its easy mandate was to make sure that Nigeria becomes an easy place to do business.
“It is not a coincidence that the government is investing massively in critical infrastructure such as road construction in our efforts to see that we do not only enjoy the ease of doing business but also to position ourselves as a country that is ready to take a bigger shear of global tourism market”, he added.
“Our administration is fully committed to the promotion of culture and tourism.
“Only last month, President Buhari approved the hosting of the International Arts and Crafts (INAC) Expo in Abuja,” he said.
On his part, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, thanked Osinbajo for gracing the occasion.
He also congratulated the proprietor, Gbenga Daniel, for the successful completion of the project.
Abiodun said he was delighted to note that each time the vice president came to his home state, it was always for a positive landmark, progress and development of the state and the nation at large.
“The last time you came was to turn the sod at Kajola where we are meant to have a workshop for trains that will be going from Ibadan to Lagos.
“ I wish to particularly congratulate the vice president for the completion of this facility; as our state continues to rise in the ladder as an industrial economy, as we continue to expand our economic base being the overflow of the fifth largest economy in Africa, more people will be coming to the state.
“Therefore, there will be a need for comfort; that itself justifies a facility like this.
“On one hand, this beautiful facility will contribute in no small measure towards providing conducive and standard hospitality to our guests, and even most of us residing in the state who needs a home away from home,’’ he said.
He said the strategic location of the facility would not only add to the aesthetics of the area but would significantly contribute to employment generation initiatives of the state government.
In a remark, Daniel said that he was overwhelmed by the strength and quality of turnout at the ceremony.
The former governor of Ogun State said the project was a contribution towards the growth of the tourism industry.