The new United States Consul-General, Williams Stevens, has said his country was poised to improve economic relationships and bilateral trade and work together with Oyo State to combat crime, while also partnering to prioritise Agriculture, Health, and Security among other initiatives.
Stevens who made the pledge when he paid a courtesy visit on the Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on Monday, praised the government of Oyo State for setting the pace in the areas of healthcare delivery, among others, adding that the state’s parameters on HIV prevalence are already ahead of some countries.
He added that the United States will partner with Oyo State and the Federal Government in combating trans-national crimes and ensure the security of lives and properties of residents, which according to him is key to creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
He said: “We are focused on security. We are focused on ensuring that we are working together with Nigerian organisations and law enforcement to combat international crime and help environment here to be safer and more secure, which actually directly connects to trade investment.
“We are also focusing on the human concept on regulations, health, partnership, democracy, governance, preparation for the upcoming elections; everything we can do to ensure that people who are here in Oyo State and around Nigeria can have the opportunity to live healthy and safer.”
Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, speaking earlier said that his administration is open to a partnership with the United States of America on Agriculture, Health and Security sectors with a view to moving the state forward and bettering the lives of the citizens.
The Governor, said that Oyo State will strengthen its partnership with the United States to deepen a mutually-beneficial relationship on security, business, entertainment, technology and good governance, among others.
According to Makinde, Oyo State government is looking forward to using the opportunities and mutually-beneficial partnerships between the state and the United States to better the lives of Oyo State residents and create an atmosphere where businesses can thrive.
Makinde who was represented by his Deputy, Barr. Abdulroheem Bayo Lawal, said: “You are all welcome to Oyo State. I am really happy that this visit is not about what we can do for you but about what we can do together to move the nation, particularly Oyo State, forward. So, thank you so much for that preface.
“Oyo State, under this administration, has four major pillars; Health, Security, Education and Economic expansion through Agribusiness and I am happy that even if you put us on a scale of measurement, we have scored more than 70 per cent.
“But we are not resting on our oars, as we believe we can do better. Through your assistance and help, we believe we can move the state forward.
“We really place high premium on agriculture. We also have a comparative advantage in land capital. So, there is no amount of enterprise on land that we cannot accommodate.
“Also, for us here, we know security is key and we have really deployed greater percentage of resources into security development. We have put in place, since the inception of this administration, an outfit called Amotekun. It will complement the efforts of our conventional security outfits – Police, DSS and others that are national in nature. “Amotekun is domesticated, localised and goes into the nooks and cranny of our communities to ensure our environments are safe.
“You must be aware while coming that people are talking about banditry, and kidnapping along the stretch of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. But Oyo and Ogun State government are putting arrangements in place to ensure that the stretch of the road is safe. As we speak, I can assure everyone here that the corridor is fully being secured by the collaborative efforts of the states involved.”
The Governor, equally commended the United States for its efforts in fighting HIV, stating that Oyo State has been working hard to reduce the prevalence of the virus.
“We need to really commend your efforts in the area of HIV, which to us in Oyo State, is one focal point and our Ministry of Health has been working assiduously to reduce the prevalence of the virus. Right now, the state has been able to reach only 41 per cent of children while that of adults stands at 77 per cent.
“For the agric value chain, we have put in place various projects to expand the economy and only about three weeks ago, we were in Abuja and we observed that most of the things we have been doing are what they just started over there.
“The SAPz, which is just being introduced at the national level, has been embarked on long time ago in Oyo State. And we have started agric value chain at Fashola. “We have been able to expand the scope and value for agribusiness.
“As we speak, we have, because of the seriousness we attach to agric in the state, attracted a lot of international funding, which we believe will expand our economy in due course.
“But we must give it to you that if you choose to assist, you can be deliberate and we will encourage you to assist and partner with Oyo State government in the area of security. It is becoming endemic.
“Initially, we thought we can localise this issue of security, but it has become a hydra-headed phenomenon. So, whatever technology is required to combat insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in Oyo State, we will welcome it.
“You spoke of the forthcoming election, and I can assure you that it will be peaceful and credible,” the Governor added.