The Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, says the State’s ongoing economic summit is a State government’s strategy of bringing more investments into the state to open it up and reduce the stake of the government in employment of labour.
In an interview with Channels Television on Friday, Governor Dickson said that there were gains already recorded from the inaugural summit held last year, as investors had expressed interest in various sectors of the state’s economy.
He said that having investments in different sectors would create more jobs to ensure that the government would not remain the major employer of labour in the state.
An Ambitious Programme
“We have made a lot of progress, with so many Memorandum of Understanding signed and a lot of conversations have gone on in terms of how most of those projects can move into reality.
“We have finished the design of the industrial park. We are also working with investors who have come to indicate interest. We have acquired and provided a place for power investors to go.
“We are working on agricultural investment. There are a lot people, who from last year till today, are building major aquaculture farms. There is cassava plantation going on,” he said, listing the investments that the summit had brought to the state.
The Governor further stressed that the programme of the 2015 summit had a practical concept centred on ‘Unfolding Bayelsa State’s Industrial Future’ for investors.
He said that the state had made a lot of progress after the summit of last year.
“There are partnerships that are on. We are starting from ground zero and for us any progress is a progress well-made and appreciated.
“We don’t expect to be Dubai overnight. That is an aspiration. We are pursuing an ambitious programme of expounding the base of our economy.
“We have made a lot of progress and advance conversations that we have started last year.
“The programme is a practical concept that is zeroing in on power this year,” he said.
Listing the investment opportunities in the state, the governor said that State government was focusing on the huge gas deposit in the state and other areas that the state had comparative advantage.
“Our position is that if we have gas and we have people who come in to indicate interest building power plants and we generate power, we will have people who will come down and set up businesses.
“Shell already has a four billion dollars gas gathering facility where the power hub we have created lies.
“What we are showcasing this year is that very close to that place we have decided to create the industrial park. We have factories, industries there now.
“We want to create as many jobs as possible but the basic foundation must be laid,” Governor Dickson stated.
On the availability of manpower to sustain the industrialisation and the investment in the power sector, he said that Bayelsa State started the first independent power plant in Nigeria and had over the years groomed persons that were knowledgeable in the sector.
“There is abundant manpower that we are prepared to export. This is a practical summit.
“We have the biggest fish farms going on now. In this year, we are unfolding a micro finance bank, which the CBN has approved.
“The aim is to extend credit to people who are involved in SMEs to be able to create inclusive growth.
“We are also showcasing the Deep Sea Port and the Brass Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone approved by the government.
“These are very critical concepts in terms of developing our state,” he reiterated.
No Security Concerns
On Security, Governor Dickson said that there were no special security concerns in Bayelsa, as security agencies were committed to the security of lives and property of residents.
“Bayelsa is safe and we have made sufficient investments to ensure that it will remain safe because we see safety as the first condition for development,” he said.
On Friday, the summit will focus on Fixing Nigeria’s Power needs, exploring the huge gas deposit, transmission and greenfield projects, with Dr. Sam Amadi of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission delivering the key-note address.
The summit will also look at the value chain of agriculture, with focus on creating jobs and growing prosperity.