Ogun State Government and the United Kingdom Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Abeokuta, the state capital on urban renewal and public transportation.
The MoU would cover modern strategies to be put in place to accommodate the expected population explosion in the state and to address its effect on public infrastructure, especially transportation.
The Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbo Talabi, signed on behalf of Ogun State Government, while a Counsellor and Head of Future Cities Programme, British High Commission in Nigeria, Guy Harrison, signed on behalf of the UK.
The partnership drive between Ogun State and British government was captured under a programme called “Future Cities Nigeria,” a UKAID-funded urban renewal programme. It has a timeline of three years.
The programme’s outline indicated that the UK would provide support for Ogun State transport sector and fast-track housing and urban development in Ogun, which is currently facing the challenge of absorbing spillover of the population explosion from Lagos State.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the Governor’s Office in Oke-Mosan, Talabi commended the initiative, saying it would complement the various efforts of the state government in its desire to plan for a common prosperous future for the people of the state and for physical infrastructure.
Talabi noted that the present administration was duly committed to providing the enabling environment for such partnerships to thrive seamlessly.
“We thank the British Government and the Future Cities Nigeria for these laudable initiatives targeted at planning towards the future in Ogun State. This level of support cannot be diminished because the Governor Dapo Abiodun led-administration is determined to change the narrative on how things are being done,” he said.
These, he said, could be seen in the various interventions by the state government in road rehabilitation efforts, security of lives and property, as well as the ease of doing business strategies amongst many others.
“Our desire is to make Ogun State, a place where you could live peacefully, and work prosperously for the future,” he added.
The secretary reassured the partners that the present government would not just pay lip service to governance issues, but would continue to accelerate even development and stimulate rapid investments within the state through workable collaborations with Lagos State.
“Part of our effort in this direction is beginning to bear fruits with the setting up of the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission. It is meant to accelerate inter-state collaboration. We are already intensifying effort on road rehabilitation, provision of portable water supply, amongst many other initiatives still in the offing,” he said.
Talabi reassured all the partners of government’s commitment towards the realisation of the project in the state for the well-being of the entire populace.
Also speaking at the event, Harrison, who is the leader of the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, said the team was in the state to support the policies of the Abiodun administration in order to fully maximise all the benefits of urban renewal and transportation available.
He assured that the support of the British Government for urban renewal and public transportation in the state would be total, adding that the primary focus would be to develop the capacity of the people and the state at large.
“The British High Commission is extremely delighted with the state government on the various policies on sustainable development, job creation, poverty reduction and many others targeted at giving the people a new lease of livelihood,” he said.
Also, the Team Lead for the Future Cities programme, Simon Gusah, underscored the importance of planning as a prerequisite to nation building.
He said there was an urgent need for government at all levels to start planning for future challenges ahead, noting that the initiative was predicated on inclusive prosperity for all.
Gusah contended that the programme represents a catalytic intervention aimed at leveraging international and British expertise towards improving trade and investments between Nigeria and the rest of the world.
He asserted that the programme has the potential to facilitate additional finance and improved opportunities for international and UK businesses in Ogun State