The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to give Oloibiri, the site of Nigeria’s first commercially viable oil well in Bayelsa State, a facelift before the end of this year.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke made the promise at a Gala Night organized by the Bayelsa State Government as part of activities commemorating this year’s World Tourism Day in Yenagoa.
While lamenting the level of neglect being suffered by the Oloibiri, the Minister bemoaned how past governments paid lip service to the proposed Oloibiri Oil Museum project.
His words: “My heart bleeds when I see the bushes around Oloibiri. I recall that as a General Manager in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC in the 1990s, there were a lot of talks about developing the Oloibiri Museum. I’m surprised why that proposal has not seen the light of day.
“I will therefore discuss with the Permanent Secretary to ensure that the pump head of Oloibiri, the first oil well in Nigeria located in Bayelsa State gets a bit of a facelift. At least, let us clean up the environment; let us protect and designate it; let us apply some kind of embellishment to truly make it a very important landmark in Bayelsa State. I give you my word that, that will be done before December, 2013.”
Expressing delight at the level of entertainment and the quantum of natural endowments in the state, High Chief Duke observed that Bayelsa possesses the wherewithal to become a major tourism destination in the West African sub region.
The Minister however noted that this could only be possible if the people look inward and cooperate with government and other critical stakeholders to develop the State’s eco-tourism.
He also called on oil companies operating in the State to take their corporate social responsibility seriously by ploughing back part of the profit they make to promote cultural and tourist activities, which according to him contribute significantly to the wellbeing of a people.
“From the natural endowments and from the songs and dances and power point presentations we have seen here tonight, I think what Bayelsa and her people need first and foremost, is self-belief that you have the collateral to begin a truly significant tourism destination in West Africa. And, I know that the dogged leadership and determination of the Governor of this state; with the support of the State House of Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, this vision will be realized.
“Let us not seek the barrel of oil because oil will soon come to an end. But let us engage with the oil companies and say to them that in every local government in Bayelsa State, we need the establishment of theatres for our youths to train and perform.
“Let us say to the oil companies that today, that Bayelsa State is safe, so rather than for workers in the oil companies to make their money in Bayelsa and fly to Dubai or any other part of the world, we should prove to them that truly, this place could be made conducive for them to spend the money generated here.”
In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson reassured the people of his administration’s resolve to fast track development and boost the economy through tourism.
The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Retired Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, expressed gratitude to the Federal ministry of Tourism for closely partnering with the State.
He said government was poised to develop the tourism sector to generate more income to implement its restoration agenda instead of wholly depending on federal allocation.
To this end, the Governor disclosed that efforts were being intensified to upgrade tourist destinations in the State and complete the Tourism Island project on schedule.
“I observe that there is a remarkable congruence between your vision and that of the Governor of this State as far as tourism is concerned.
“For the Governor to designate an area as Tourism Island within a year of taking over the leadership of this State means he knows the value of tourism and every effort is being made to ensure that the sector blossoms to the fullest.
“Within the Island, we are expecting that very good event facilities, including casinos would be put in place by the end of this year. The Golf Course would be built there and contracts have been awarded. For the Polo Club, construction is already going on. We will also construct a network of roads to make sure that when you get to the Island, you will feel what Bayelsa has to offer. We want tourism to contribute effectively to our economy.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State