The Bayelsa Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr Kemela Okara on Thursday said the key thing that emphasis will be laid on during the State’s first Bayelsa State Investment and Economic Forum (BSIEF) in Yenagoa, the state capital, is the people of Bayelsa.
“For us the main aim of hosting this conference is to unlock the potentials that we have in the state for the benefit of the people” he said.
He also noted that though oil and gas is the major contributor to the nation’s economy, Mr Okara noted that “it doesn’t have the capacity to employ as many people as we would like. So we have to diversify our economy and ensure that the places where our people have the advantage and unlock the potentials there”.
With the expectation that the world will come to invest in the state, Mr Okara said the state has invested massively in manpower development especially in the areas of “formal education, enterprise and vocational trainings” to get the citizens ready and employable to companies that will invest in the oil-rich state.
“We can’t be an attractive place for investors if we don’t have the manpower” maintaining that “we don’t want the investors to come and our people are not employed”, he said.
He said the state government has invested in security measures so as to give investors the sense of belonging and remove the fear of being victims of criminals in the state.
“The governor from day one has tackled the issues of insecurity through the massive investment into things like Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) monitoring all over the state and also the rapid response of the police to where there are incidences of crime.
“We all understood that if we don’t create a safe atmosphere; if people don’t perceive that Bayelsa state is a safe place, then we can’t even start talking about anything else, even for us indigenes of the state”, he added
The event, according to Mr Okara, forms part of the vision of Governor Seriake Dickson “to build a strong, thriving and competitive economy, and to make Bayelsa State a model of an African economic success story.”
“We want to show that a state that was hitherto seen in bad light for so many things like militancy and pipeline vandalisation can be turned into a model that others can copy”.
He added that the forum is expected to highlight and showcase investment opportunities in the state, in addition to fostering discussions and dialogue between prospective local and international investors, finance experts and regulators.
It will also encourage and facilitate investment in Bayelsa, while projecting the “state as the haven and destination of choice in Africa for investment and massive industrialisation, particularly in the oil and gas, energy and power, technology, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors.”
Nigeria’s Best Kept Investment Secret
Governor Dickson had described Bayelsa State as Nigeria’s best kept secret and investment destination.
The Governor said this in London at the official opening of the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC), international office in London, a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson earlier in July.
Dickson said the BDIC’s London office was principally intended to complement the efforts of the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom by promoting the trade and investment potential of Bayelsa and Nigeria.
Dickson said, “This office shall be the international headquarters of the corporation and shall deepen and strengthen our collective resolve as a government and as a people to promote wealth and prosperity in the state.
“Our administration’s strategic vision is to attract the private sector, both within and outside the country to open businesses in the state in order to create job opportunities as well as create alternative sources of revenue for the state.
“Government will provide the enabling environment for the private sector, which has the capacity to grow the economy and create job opportunities in the state.”
Dickson explained that the opening of the BDIC international office as well as the Bayelsa Economic and Investment Forum holding in Yenagoa were to underscore the fact that Bayelsa is safe and secure for investment.