PRESIDENT JONATHAN, GOV DICKSON CALL FOR MASSIVE INVESTMENT IN BAYELSA’S VAST ECONOMIC POTENTIALS.
A 3-day Bayelsa Economic and Investment Forum commenced on Thursday in Yenagoa, with President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson leading calls for willing investors to explore and invest in the vast economic potentials that Bayelsa State has to offer, particularly in the areas of oil and gas, agriculture, seaport development and the tourism sectors.
Declaring open the forum with the theme, Unlocking Bayelsa State’s Economic Potentials: Opportunities and Challenges, the President, who was represented at the occasion by the Vice President, Arc Namadi Sambo, said the state has potentials to drive the nation’s economy, adding that, for this feat to be achieved, there is need for peace and unity.
Describing peace and unity as panacea for economic growth, the President submitted that, this is the only way to attract foreign investors not only to Bayelsa State, but the Niger Delta region as a whole.
Drawing the attention of investors to the state’s unique coastline and green vegetation, President Jonathan stated that, if well harnessed it would increase the state,’ Gross Domestic Product, (GDP).
Earlier in his address, Governor Seriake Dickson described the turn out of investors as massive, disclosing that over four hundred participants from different parts of the globe, registered for the Investment and Economic Forum.
Highlighting the areas that, the government is looking forward for partnership to include; agriculture, road construction, power generation, Small and Medium Enterprises development, the tourism industry, the governor said, this would assist in preparing the state’s economy beyond oil and gas.
He said the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation, BDIC which has an asset base of over N300 billion was set up to drive government’s public private partnerships for the overall development of the state as government alone could not shoulder the responsibility of addressing the challenges of the state.
Responding to questions from an investor on government bureaucratic challenges, Governor Dickson said the BDIC and the Bayelsa Investment Promotion Agency, BIPA were established to facilitate investments in the state.
The ministers of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke and her counterpart of Trade, Industry andInvestment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga as well as the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur were among dignitaries that delivered goodwill messages.
Mrs. Madueke said the Federal Government has taken practical steps to deepen its partnership with Bayelsa on a number of projects, including the Brass Liquified Natural Gas (BLNG).
According to her, the final investment decision (FID) will be reached in the first quarter of next year, as the Federal Government intends to create more jobs in the state through various programmes, using the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.
She noted that, work on a pipe mill development project at Polaku in Yenagoa local government area was ongoing in addition to the proposed industrial park at Otuoke.
In his remarks, Dr. Olusegun Aganga noted that Bayelsa, like Nigeria possesses a viable macro economic environment for investments to thrive, noting that, the State accounts for more than 30% of the nation’s crude oil production and could do well in agriculture, if the much needed investment is made in the sector.
Keynote Speaker, Mr. Jim O’Neil, Retired Chairman of Gold Sachs Asset Management, represented by Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Lord Malloch-Brown stressed the need to build an inclusive political government, create critical infrastructure as well as build institutions to gain the confidence of investors.
Prominent personalities, who spoke at the summit include Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke.