Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Monday said the state was able to attract various investments ranging from 100 to 500 million US dollars following the hosting of the just concluded State Investment and Economic Forum.
The Governor, who made the assertion in a special live interviewprogramme on radio and television, noted that several investors were already holding talks with government officials to explore business opportunities in the state.
According to Governor Dickson, the state has gained the confidence of investors through the creation of a friendly investment climate, including donation of land to encourage private sector participation to stimulate economic growth in the state.
His words: “We spent the last 2 years and some months now; laying the foundation, creating a conducive environment to woo investors and with the cooperation of all Bayelsans, we are getting out of the foundation level, so God willing and we move the way we are doing, serious minded business people within Nigeria and outside will come and invest in power, others are investing in agriculture.
Highlighting agriculture and power generation as critical sectors that require private sector involvement, he explained that designs and survey work on the proposed industrial park have been concluded, which has the capacity not only to create employment, but also attract subsidiary companies in view of its proximity to gas resources.
On agriculture, the Governor said a lot of strategic investments were on going such as the construction of what he described as the biggest cassava processing plant in the country located at Ebedebiri in Sagbama local government area, as well as the construction of anaqua-culture farm at Ogbogoro in Yenagoa with the capacity to produce 3,000 tons of fish for local consumption and export.
“We want to be number one in agriculture and aqua culture. We have a palm plantation and we are encouraging people to come and work with us to expand it. And we have a lot of investors coming and holding different meetings with my team. And, I told them, if they even need any amount of land for palm production I will grant it. This is the time for this state to make that investment. So, that in the next 5 years or so, whatever happens to oil prices in the international market, we will not be too seriously affected.
“You are all aware of what is happening with the discovery of shale oil and gas, at the time that the heat will come, whoever will be governor at that time will deal with that crisis with the over-bloated wage bill that we have and everybody depending on government, it would be a major disaster and it is that disaster that, we are working hard to mitigate.”
Responding to a question on the state trainees from the Songhai Farms in Benin Republic, Governor Dickson remarked that, the government needed to concretize its policy on Small and Medium Enterprises to enable government incorporate them in the N25 billion scheme.
Making clarifications on the partnership of the state’s international cargo airport under construction, he explained that, the state government was handling the critical aspects of the project, which include acquisition of land, payment of compensation, sand-filling of the site, construction of the runway, while the federal government was in charge of the terminal building and the airport is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Governor Dickson also commented on the agreement government entered into with the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology and telecommunication service providers, stressing that the 50% tax waiver granted in the partnership was geared towards enhancing government’s drive in the compulsory ICT literacy programme in schools, attract investors and generally accelerate the pace of development.