By Steve Otaloro
The mention of Ore town will send chills down the spines of so many persons who either witnessed or participated in the battle that took place there during the Nigerian Civil War. Ore is a gateway of sorts to the Western and Eastern parts of the country. The historic town was so important to Nigeria’s continuity that it could sway victory to the enemy if captured during the civil war by the Biafra soldiers; but for the Nigerian Army that engaged in a fierce battle for the soul of Nigeria.
The Biafran Army could not withstand the firepower of the Nigerian troop had to retreat and the war was eventually restricted to the Eastern side of the federation. Vestiges of the civil war are still evident in this town. A Yoruba maxim- “Ole ku, Ija Ore”- meaning: “The military battle at Ore was tough” derived its coinage from the essential history of the war.
In spite of the significant place of Ore in history and its being a strategic gateway between the Western and the Eastern blocs of Nigeria, Ore remains a very semi-urban town with poor infrastructure to support its huge population of Nigerians from different parts of the country who have found comfort in the town for trading and farming activities.
Also, Ore’s potentialities as a viable transit gate between the western and the eastern parts of Nigeria are other reasons that its population is booming. The town has, however, been growing organically from its modest beginning after the civil war with no concerted effort after the war on the part of subsequent Federal or Ondo State governments to document and address this historic town as a constant reminder of our civil war, and, more importantly, to develop it into a functional city with full complements of infrastructure development that will support her ever teeming population post the civil war.
All that stories of woe have now been consigned to the past as Ore now enjoys the attention she deserves since the advent of the administration of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) in Ondo State. Arakunrin Akeredolu has made true his promise of turning Ore, a once famous theatre-of-war, into one of the industrial hubs of Nigeria.
Massive construction sites – overhead bridges, link roads – are common sights when passing through Ore. These will serve as infrastructure support base for Ore as an industrial hub.
When these multi-billion Naira constructions are completed, an end will be put to the traffic congestions on the popular Ore junction and adequately ease the flow of traffics on the notorious transit axis of Lagos-Benin-Ondo road in Ore town that was partially caused by the location of NNPC depot at the entry of the express way in Ore.
In his determination to ensure the realisation of Ore as an industrial hub and as a solid economic base, Arakunrin Akeredolu had embarked on an investment tour to China at the inception of his administration in 2017. That tour gave birth to an entirely new industrial park, now called Ondo Linyi Industrial Park, situated at Ore.
The park is an offshoot of Linyi municipal government of Shandong in China where Arakunrin Akeredolu signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Linyi Municipal government of Shandong province of the People’s Republic of China in 2017. Since that MoU was signed, many investors from the Shandong province of China have made good their promise to set up different industries in this park.
Already, Linyi industrial park in Ore is bubbling with life as human and vehicular traffics beautify the landscape of the once empty space in the woods. Different companies have set up plants and warehouses while many other companies are being constructed. A paper mill, a textile company, an ethanol plant, a medium-density fiberboard, a high-density fiberboard and plywood factories, and a host of other agricultural based products companies have commenced production at the Ore Industrial Park.
With the completion of the paper mill, the ethanol plant, the plywood factory and other industries, these would cumulatively provide over 20,000 direct jobs while many people, double that figure, are expected to benefit indirectly from jobs created down the value chain.
The choice of Ore as the nation’s industrial hub was apt and it is a decision well thought of by Arakunrin Akeredolu for the reason that the town is strategically placed between the western and the eastern gateways of the country. The people in the community are mostly settlers. The land is devoid of the activities of the notorious land grabbers who often prevent ease of doing business in some other traditional settlements.
The proximity of Ore to Lagos port through the proposed bridge by the Arakunrin Akeredolu’s Government over the Atlantic ocean to Lekki in Lagos is the icing on the cake that makes Ore town the perfect location for the nation’s next industrial hub of the near future where thousands of hectares of forest land are in abundant and waiting for development.
Many established companies in Nigeria are now taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Ondo State Government in assisting prospective businesses in securing land for free in establishing their factories upon request.
More than fifty existing companies in Nigeria at the last count have made inquiries on how to relocate their companies to Ore and be part of the industrial revolution going on in Ondo State. Through his performance in two years in office, Arakunrin Akeredolu has turned Ondo State into one big construction site as massive roads constructions are going on across the eighteen local governments in the state; new blocks of school classrooms are being built and several renovated; hospitals and rural health delivery services are being improved upon, daily. Schools are being energized to bring in more quality education, infrastructure development; Local Council Development Area LCDAs are to be created throughout the state soon while IGR is on the increase without necessarily increasing tax.
Everyone in the state is embracing agriculture because of government’s incentive and grants extended to the sector. There are unprecedented improvements in the state’s tourism sector that will see Ondo State go to historic heights in employment and revenue generation, as well, as other multi-billion naira projects, community engagements, trade-group empowerments and human and resources development visible across the State.
There were also good investments in many industrial sectors to provide employment and empowerment. In addition, many notable private sector developments and partnership drives took place in the state, which led to the restoration of electricity to the South Senatorial District of the state, starting with all the houses in Ebute-Ipare and Aboto towns in Ilaje local government area and a majority of houses in Igbobini in Ese-odo local government area, which were powered using solar technology as well as Ode-Aye that was recently reenergized by BEDC, after several years of being cut-off from the national grid.
Arakunrin Akeredolu’s moral ethical compass to genuinely develop Ondo state will surely speak volumes to the hearts and the souls of the people in the coming governorship election. No doubt, he has, through his performance indices across the nooks and crannies of the state, etched his name in gold and built a body of legacies as a visionary leader, one with inexorable desire for the growth and the development of his people.
The footprint of his great efforts will forever be recorded for posterity to judge as his legacy of service to the people of Ondo State.
· Otaloro is the Director of Media and Publicity APC, Ondo State.