…..In this Exclusive Interview, Chief Alex oluremi Ajipe who is the CEO, Klick Konnect Networks and Convener of Ibi Giga Ambassadors, shares with SUNSHINETRUTH how Gov Akeredolu masterminded industrial revolution in Ondo state and expectations from his second term.
Q: Who is Chief Oluremi Alex Ajipe for record purpose?
My name is Chief Alex Ajipe, I am the Chief Executive Officer of Klick Konnect Network International Limited, we are a PR (public relations) company and we call ourselves investors’ hunter, we are private/public consultant, we are consultant to Ondo State Government and also consultant on business investment in Ondo state and I’m also the Convener of Ibi Giga Ambassador.
Q: What has been the contributions of your firm to the development of Ondo State especially in the last four years?
I want to appreciate God for what He has done and what He will do and what He has accomplished through us. I remember that when this government (Akeredolu’s administration) came into power, I remembered that the first partnership we midwived was the aforestation project, which is a PPP project between Ondo State Government and WEWOOD, a Chinese private company that is into wood processing. It is a ten thousand hectares of land, as am talking to you now, over seven million trees have been planted between that time and now, which has given birth to other investment drive such as Ondo-Linyi (industrial hub, Ore) today, that is the success of what we have on aforestation.
So, we facilitated the Government of Ondo State going into partnership with Ondo-Linyi investors which happened that Ondo became the first state in Nigeria to sign a bi-State agreement with any State in the Republic of China.
At the moment, Ondo-Linyi (industrial hub, Ore) worths over $350 million in foreign direct investment. As we are talking, we have ethanol project factory, cassava-to-ethanol plant, we have MDF plant which fetches over 3,300 tonnes of wood every day, the first and the only type we have in Nigeria.
We have textile (factory) that started by producing thread, later lace at the moment, we are producing Ankara fabrics the HDF, we have fertilizer, Automobile Assembly plant, we have the alcoholic manufacturing plant that is also there and we have chemicals and others that are under construction such as plastic, battery, toys and all that, these are what we have done in Ondo State.
Q: How did the influence of Governor Akeredolu come into play in this huge feats?
Yes of course, without the government’s political will and the willingness; the focus and the resolve to use the private sector to drive the economy of Ondo State, it will be difficult to achieve all these. We have achieved much more, we have mentioned Ondo-Linyi industrial park.
When you are also talking about aforestation project, let’s take Ondo State for example, it was established in 1979 during the era of Michael Adekunle Ajasin, the first civilian Governor (of the state), we don’t have an aforestation project in the State until Arakunrin Akeredolu came in and he released 10,000 hectres of land and many trees have been planted and MDF company is there too, it’s the political will of the Governor, the Governor was in China himself, to appeal to the willing investors for them to gain confidence to be here.
Had it been he does not care, he wouldn’t have done that. Every investment drive comes with his challenges, but the political will of the Governor surmounted every uphill, so the Governor is at the centre of all we are achieving.
Pix: you can read this interview in our SUNSHINETRUTH Magazine still in circulation.
Q: With all you have said, how has the people of the Sunshine State benefitted from the aforestated projects?
The people of Ondo State have benefited directly or indirectly. Ab initio it (Ondo-Linyi industrial hub) has showcased Ondo State, remember the President (Muhammadu Buhari) was here sometimes ago to commission some beautiful projects in which the entire world saw that day. So everybody is looking at Ondo State. Our hardwork increases hospitality business, because people coming to purchase woods and other products of ours will sleep in hotels, they will buy food.
If not for COVID-19, we would have been boasting of 15,000 employment (at the hub). We are proud of over 6,000 people that are directly employed. This also contributes to the internal generated revenues of the state. We have people who sell wood and 80% of our employees at the textile industry are women.
Q: Can you speak largely on the future of the industrial hub?
For example, Ondo-linyi industrial hub is of two phases. The first phases, any company coming in the first phase must be able to utilize Ondo State raw materials. That’s why you see company using our wood. Talking about the marketing phase, as of now, we have 250 companies’ representatives that have subscribed to the second phase.
Many of them whose products are at 90% come here (at the hub) to finish it all. We are only assembling at Ondo linyi, so this is the future of industrial drive in Ondo State, as will be producing the parts of Trucks soon.
Q: More insight into Cassava to Ethanol project?
Talking about cassava, we don’t have enough, the ethanol needs 1,500 tons of cassava daily to be able to produce 100,000 ethanol which is still not enough. Although we have not been able to meet the demand, but now that we are partnering with local farmers, we will be able to meet with the demands of the people.
Don’t forget that edible ethanol are useful to pharmaceutical companies, even the company are already coming to us. Now Distilleries that are into wines and other drinks are building their houses there. So we will have our own beverages and libation.
It will also help Ondo state to have their own company because we have the ethanol plant. We only need to increase cassava farmers, even we can go to neighbouring state just to ensure we have enough cassava for ethnol.
Only in Ondo state we have an indigenous MDF. So we are moving forward to increase aforestation and meeting with the demands of the people. Now when the people increase (employees), there will be accommodations, even real estate agents will be able have houses built, people who are into hospitality we get sales.
We are going into the future where all and sundry will benefit. Part of Ondo-linyi, our investors will be producing cement, part of the needed items have been taken from Okeluse (a town in Ose local govt area of Ondo state).
We were able to get limestone. We are only waiting for the licence. Having all these done with the licence, we will be producing 1000 tons (of cement) daily in Ondo State.
Q: Hope no security challenges to all these projects?
The Governor (Oluwarotimi Akeredolu) has helped enough, like giving us a conducive environment. Security is everybody’s business. People working with us won’t want anything to happen to their source of livelihood.
So we believe our people will secure the hub. Akeredolu has taken bold steps for us and the investors must to be secured by all.
Q: Is the establishment of the factories aimed at exportation of products?
Yes, three companies here in Ondo State have ‘mancap’, without mancap you can’t export anything. Only this era of Akeredolu we enjoyed quantum leap. Anyway, we project 400,000,000 million of ethanol, so for now will focus on the internal demand first.
Q: You played a major key role in the reelection of Akeredolu, what prompted you to create Ibi Giga Ambassadors?
We are not appointment holder, but we are part and parcel, because this Government has given opportunities to the private sector.
Everybody wants to see Ondo State with a port, everybody wants to see us develop. A reasonable person will wants to support a government who is working to have a seaport which will bring about development of the community.
Politics is not a game for the politicians alone, everybody votes. What we did was just to mobilize like minds and interested people to say we need to support beyond theoritical affirmation, like we need to support Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in coming back again to complete what he started which of course the whole state will benefit from the second coming.
The seriousness and sincerity geared us up to throw our weight behind the Governor. We are only driven by what we have seen.
Q: What are the contributions of Ibi Giga Ambassadors to the re-election of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu?
What we did was that we knew that this is a Man needs to win for Ondo State to move forward and not wallow in the deep of retrogression.
No doubt we knew then that two stages are involved for him to win, Firstly, he needs to win the Primary, secondly he needs to win the general election. We got ourselves involved, for me I have been a progressive person from time immemorial. I have been here in Ondo State for long, I know our people, and we were able to talk to our people.
We even worked day and night, and at the end, we won the primary. Ibi Giga ambassadors were mobilized from all the nooks and crannies. We held meeting with many people from the ward level.
We told people that he needs to complete what he has started, like in the area of Agriculture, education etc. The election was WON. The is the first election that the margin in the general was too wide.
Q: Can you give us the brief history of Ibi Giga Ambassador?
We didn’t Form it just like a typical political group, we brought people of like minds, we contributed money, spent it ourselves. We mobilize our selves because we added slot of innovations for the people. Our resolve are not petty.
We knew Akeredolu will be the man that will take us that promise land. When others are still dilly-dally, we have prepared a lot of people together to propagate the political gospel. Even when Aketi has not made his intentions known, we were out already.
Q: What were the mountainous task you and your group faced during the electioneering period?
Most challenging is the people within, when Ibi Giga came on board, there was an alleged suspension by the party, and people said the suspension may not be lifted.
The issues of unity forum came too including the dichotomy about the party executives, the Otetubi and Adetimehin faction. Later the pendulum swings to the right place. Later we kept our people at the right place. All these were challenges, but we engaged our people.
Arakunrin told me and he said he is running because there were speculation in thin air that he may not even contest with all these aforestated problems. Funny enough cabinet members came to meet me that his the Governor running? Glory be to God today.
Q: Many Said Akeredolu won on the fact of Sincerity and boldness, what’s your take on this?
Akeredolu is a rare gem, if you follow the political trend in Ondo State, you will know we hardly have this type of sincere person, hardly you will see a politician that will not play ‘Leg-over’, many don’t call a spade-a-spade. But Akeredolu is not so, he will call a spade a spade.
Many tagged him an inexperienced politician, but today he is now a ‘talk and do politician’. Many don’t know him earlier. Actually, you can be a God fearing man and still be a politician. If not for his political will, we may not have been generating a robust IGR today. Based on his focus, he is a good man. Akeredolu is a stable man which earned him support (second term).
Q: How will you managed your large Ibi Giga family?
Like me am not an appointment person, many are like looking at service to humanity. Everybody can’t be Commissioner. All of us can’t have appointments. We can empower people through innovation, empowerment and nominees in the industry hub. After the sea port, many employement chances would fill the atmosphere.
Q: By happenstance, if you are to meet the Governor, what piece of advice will you offer him, regarding appointments?
Well nobody is perfect, he has constituted a committee on Handover. But to me, those that should constitute the next cabinet should be politicians and technocrats, however all legacy projects must be consolidated.
Also I will not want what happenened in the first term to repeat itself in the second term in terms of media, information and Orientation.
In Ondo State, we have ministry of information and Orientation, but we have not seen that orientation. So now we must concentrate on that orientation aspect.
For example, we have ethanol plant in Ore, then we need to orientate people in remaining Senatorial Districts (Ondo Central & North). People need to be orientated about government’s projects, Going on in order places such Ore Flyover, dualization of roads etc.
Q: As a community title holder, how do you manage the community and your business task?
Of course, everything has his own way, talking about traditional way, majorly it is supervised by the King, the King does the managerial affairs while the Governor does his own. I am a Pastor too, also an industrialist. It is not challenging like that.
Q: However, do you have any background of politics that became an impetus for you to have passion for politics?
Well, for any body to survive amidst the prevalence of harsh economy, you must be a politician either actively or partially, I want to say that an average Nigerian is a politician.
Businessmen must have interest in politics because it is on the wings of politician you get business survival. Am interested in politics because of my business. We entered into politics because of our people too.
Q: Your take on Gov Akeredolu’s stance on security matters?
For us that know Akeredolu, we know is an activist, he is brave, he led the NBA, he doesn’t matter whose ox is gored.