BDIC: NEW ECONOMIC ROADMAP FOR A NEW BAYELSA By Daniel Iworiso-Markson


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BDIC: NEW ECONOMIC ROADMAP FOR A NEW BAYELSA
By Daniel Iworiso-Markson

Driven by the likelihood that in the next 20 to 30 years we may
experience dry oil wells all across the Niger Delta, which portends
very dire consequences for all of us as a nation, particularly to
those of us in the oil bearing states, Governor Seriake Dickson of
Bayelsa State only recently took the bull by the horns to begin the
process of planning for a future without oil by setting up the Bayelsa
Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC).
In the wisdom of Governor Dickson, with the advances in science
and technology in the majoroil consumer economies, it is
imperative that we take the issue of diversification­ of our economy
seriously. So BDIC was set up to drive investments, create skills and
develop a robust economicbase that can withstand the shock that
will come the day after oil, which is why his administration is
serious about investing in agriculture and tourism, among others,
as alternativesto oil and gas.
The BDIC initiative is an integral component of the new Bayelsa that
Governor Dickson often talks about. This new Bayelsa, many will
readily admit, is fast becoming a reality. Virtually every facet of
governance bears eloquent testimony to the emergence of this
paradigm with distinct focus. It is all about the future. Intrinsic here,
however, is that the critical pillars and catalyst that will enable us
arrive fully at the new Bayelsa of our dream lies in our economic
prosperity. And the strategic vehicle designed to convey us to that
destination of economic prosperity is the Bayelsa Development and
Investment Corporation (BDIC).
Speaking at the Inaugural Board Retreat of BDIC held at the weekend
in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson pointed out that the new Bayelsa that
we all crave, the new Bayelsa that we actually deserve, can only be
founded on prosperity and security. “Government is building roads
and bridges, schools and so on, but in vain do we do all of this, if
these activities do not translate to economic prosperity and
opportunities for our people”, he declared.
As the visioner and brain behind the BDIC, Governor Dickson was
very clear about his expectations of the role of the body when he
said, “We will like the BDIC to turn Bayelsa to the new Dubai of
Africa and we can do it because we are a resilient and resourceful
people.”
Even more profound, Governor Dickson did not mince words when
he said that the restoration government under his watch is a believer
in free enterprise. He believes that the private sector is best suited to
promoting enterprise, creating wealth, sustaining development and
government should therefore have very little business in running
businesses. Hence, he believes from the work of BDIC that the
people of the state will experience sustainable growth and
development.
Giving insights to his conviction in setting up the BDIC, Governor
Dickson had this to say: “the actual job of creating wealth,
developing skills, that has to be driven by a body of people put
together in a way that can enable it to compete and do business is a
private sector driven initiative. That is why we have come up with
this body in this state. We have instances of the Odua Group, Ibile
Holdings by the Lagos State Government, the NNDC of old and other
similar bodies in this country. Outside the country, you have
sovereign entities like the IDC of South Africa, the one in Rwanda
and so many others; those models exist and that is where we want
to take our state to.”
In what may appear as setting a clear agenda for the BDIC, Governor
Dickson said, going forward, all capital investments that have a
business element will be undertaken by the BDIC. For example, it
will be the duty of the BDIC to see how we can attract funding to
projects that can add value to us, which is also an investment in
nature.
Elucidating on the economic and financial requirements of needed
infrastructure and benefits in the new thinking, the governor said,
for example, if we want to complete the Tower Hotel in the state
capital, the BDIC is in a better position to go to the market and talk
to people and see how we can also attract expertise and blend the
two to ensure that the project is completed on terms that are
acceptable and fair.
Citing another example, the Contriman Governor noted the
importance of constructing such strategic roads like the one linking
Brass which, he said, is long overdue. Already three companies have
been assigned to do the estimate and the least cost is N90 billion;
that is from Nembe to Brass. He hinted that there is no way we can
be taken seriously unless our state has that road to link the area
where we have the Brass LNG. And getting the LNG started;
expanding its opportunities for our people is another ball game.
Again, these are areas where the BDIC will be best suited to handling
the inter-related issues. With respect to the road to Agge, where we
intend to have a deep sea port, there is already an application for a
free trade zone in that area.
Stressing the importance of the task at hand for the body, Governor
Dickson said all these arehuge investments which the BDIC can drive
more actively to achieve intended objectives; adding that if we think
carefully and well enough on such huge capital investments, they
could also have some kind of economic and investment element to
it. If other states are doing it, we too can think along that line.
“The point I am making is that, going forward, it is our intention to
allow the BDIC drive capital investments that are of a commercial
nature in whichever sector,” he stated.
Governor Dickson took time to clarify the status of the BDIC with
respect to its function viz-a-viz the role of government: “Let me state
for the records that the BDIC is not intended to take the place of the
ministries in this state. The BDIC is not a body we have set up that is
to be higher than the government of this state. The BDIC’s role is not
policy formulation because that function will continue to reside in
the state government and its formal organs. But it will be the duty of
the BDIC to drive those activities that are investment related. So the
BDIC, if you like, is an investment organ. The BDIC is an instrument
for driving, attracting investments and alsodirectly investing.”
It is instructive to note that BDIC is a creation of our laws, wholly
and fully set up as a distinct corporate entity devoid of the control
and undue influence of government. It has a duly constituted board
and management made up of some of the finest professionals in the
country, some of whom have worked at the topmost level of
management in very reputable blue chips companies in Nigeria and
abroad.
What is working for the BDIC is the fact that it is coming into the
market as a big player. It currently enjoys the capital injection of
N10 billion from the Government of Bayelsa State. This is to enable
the BDIC take off in earnest. According to Governor Dickson, the
BDIC is not intended to be a paper tiger. Perhaps to underscore the
sheer worth of this corporate entity, Governor Dickson has
authorized the transfer of key assets owned by most of the other
agencies and subsidiaries of government to the BDIC.
Also, it is interesting to note that some of the recent acquisitions
that government has made since coming into power, for example,
the acquisition of 53 percent stake in Linkage Assurance and other
similar acquisitions have been put under the control of the BDIC
and it is the responsibility of this corporate body to see how all
these companies will be put to maximum advantage.
Hence, the BDIC is expected to leverage on existing assets that the
state has in addition to the new acquisitions that will be made as
part of its mandate to chart a new economic future for Bayelsa State
that will guarantee its economic prosperity and security going
forward.
The BDIC has already opened offices in South Africa, one in
Johannesburg and the international head office in London. So come
May 5th 2013, Governor Dickson is expected to lead a high powered
delegation from Nigeria and having graciously gotten President
Goodluck Jonathan to accept to perform the official commissioning
of the BDIC office in South Africa along with President Jacob Zuma.
The opening of this office is to encourage BDIC to look at
opportunities in the major markets, major economies with a view to
establishing a formidable base for the state.
Governor Dickson’s dream about the BDIC is to chart a robust
economic future for the state as well as use it as vehicle to re-create
a road map that will birth the new Bayelsa of our dream. The
realization of this dream is not anchored on oil and gas but through
massive investment in agriculture and tourism, among other
lucrative investments. This is what he had to say: “We are very
serious about promoting tourism and part of what I suggested to the
Director General of the Tourism Development Agency is that by the
time we are set and we have appropriate partners in that insurance
area, we should be able to take a policy for every tourist that is
visiting Bayelsa State. And when we prepare that and they know that
we are already in their London and South African offices, they will
have confidence in us.”
So the BDIC’s vision is to be an enabler for transforming Bayelsa
State into one of the top economies not just in our country but in
Africa. Our mission is to protect, stimulate and grow the wealth of
all Bayelsans through responsive, innovative and sustainable
investments while acting as a catalyst for socio-economic
development of our state.

Daniel Iworiso-Markson­, Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa Governor,sent this piece from Yenagoa.

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2 thoughts on “BDIC: NEW ECONOMIC ROADMAP FOR A NEW BAYELSA By Daniel Iworiso-Markson

  1. Wow! It is hard to believe that Bayelsa can reach such heights so fast. Well! Oga has done his work by setting this agency and similar bodies up with such speed. I am told that the bodies are run by people with appropriate qualifications and experience. The ball is now in their court as money has been earmarked and hopefully given out for commencement. The next thing is to demand that every agency of Bayelsa, except those that may be related to security follow in the footsteps of Countryman Governor by telling us how the money is spent. You may tell us in plain language what you are working on and the level of completion of such projects. Please, do so because history especially bad things seem to repeat themselves. A day may come when someone may probe the activities of these well intended agencies, if the board members have been very open in their activities, the proof will be there for all to see. Besides, explicitly is a pre-cursor to public trust and prosperity. Please, put it online so that one may read about the outcome of this well-intentioned “Marshal Plan” of our governor. Lots of Bayesians leave outside Bayelsa State. Some may for one reason or the other never come back to Bayelsa. But, our souls and spirits are with where we come from. Thanks-I am Phillip Kientimi Owi(Prof-Math) Miami Florida: Native of Akassa Bayelsa.

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