Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has identified paucity of funds and the difficult terrain as some of the challenges militating against aggressive infrastructural development in the state.
Governor Dickson who stated this, when he granted audience to members of Team 5, Course 22 of the National Defence College, Abuja at Government House, Yenagoa, also highlighted neglect of education and human capacity development as the bane of sustainable socio-economic advancement of the country as a whole.
Describing the theme of the study group: “Infrastructure as a catalyst for the development of Bayelsa” as very apt, the Governor said his administration was bracing all odds to address the infrastructural deficit in the State within limits of available resources.
He however, sued for external intervention particularly from the Federal Government, pointing out that environmental and other challenges pose great difficulty to the State Government to single-handedly tackle its developmental needs.
“The most critical challenge is that of funding and it is directly associated with the terrain. The terrain is so challenging in terms of development because what you call roads in other areas, are bridges in this place. Most of the roads we are talking about are actually like the third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State. And, you know it was not the Lagos State Government that built third Mainland Bridge. It was a Federal project in Lagos at that time. So that is the kind of intervention we need in this place.
Fielding questions from the participants at an interactive session, Governor Dickson lamented the level of environmental degradation being suffered by the State and the indifference shown by multinational oil companies towards their social corporate responsibility.
On education, the Governor noted that his administration would continue to prioritize efforts at revamping the sector because of the critical role it plays in societal growth and development.
According to him, the State Government has built over 400 Primary and Secondary Schools with teachers residential quarters across the state in addition to a robust scholarship programme in which Bayelsans including over 100 Ph.D students in various educational institutions both within and outside the country.
“We are building so many schools in the State; people sometimes tell me that we are building too many schools, but my response is that we are just starting, because we will even build more.
It is better to build schools than to build prisons because you must do either of the two. And we prefer to build schools, train people and give them skills because there is a relationship between low quality or neglect of education and the challenges of law and order and security. If we are not careful in this country, we could have villages and communities whose role models would be people wielding AK47.”
Commenting on efforts at generating more revenue, he said Government was diversifying from the oil and gas sector by developing agriculture and tourism.
According to the Governor, the present administration’s revenue drive has started paying off with the full implementation of the Federal Tax Law (Personal Income Tax Act, PITA) as stipulated in the country’s constitution, adding that the State’s IGR has increased from a paltry N50 million at the beginning of administration to over N700 million.
Governor Dickson, who assured investors and tourists of their safety in Bayelsa pledged to give more attention to security, describing the crime control system in the State as highly computerised and second to none in the country.
He used the occasion to thank security agencies in the country for their sacrifice and dedication to duty, noting that “the major guarantee for democracy is the military”.
Earlier, the leader of the study team, Navy Commodore Tariworio Dick said they were in the State for a week-long Geo-strategic study tour, which he noted was going on concurrently in all the Geo-political zones of the country.
Commodore Dick, who commended Governor Dickson for his developmental strides in the State, particularly thanked the Governor for promptly giving approval and support to the establishment of a navy secondary school in Bayelsa.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State